by Noah Rothman COMMENTARY MAGAZINE  15 Jan 2021

There is a real and genuine desire among almost every responsible actor in American politics to move on from the era defined by Donald Trump’s presidency. Only cynicism—a condition distinct from wisdom—would lead anyone to honestly conclude that the nation’s stakeholders welcome the events of January 2021. But moving on is a luxury that won’t come easy. Even if those stakeholders are sincere in their desire to turn the page on this bitterly fractious moment in American history, the incentives to do that don’t exist.

What is the Democratic incentive to move beyond Trump?

Restoring a sense of normalcy, reducing the national temperature, and lubricating the gears of government to confirm Joe Biden’s nominees and pass Democratic initiatives into law? Of course. But to let Trump slip away quietly—even if he were so inclined, which he almost certainly is not—would be to abandon best political practices. Trump and his legacy achievement, the sacking of the Capitol, have cost the GOP access to millions of dollars in political contributions from private commercial interests. It has already convinced hundreds of swing-state Republicans to register as independent, and the party’s favorability ratings are in a tailspin. And the powerful psychological hold the president maintains over the voters who are left in the GOP column has compelled most elected Republican representatives to back the president even as his job-approval ratings fall off a cliff.

Noah Rothman is the Associate Editor of Commentary and the author of Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America.