Cordelia Lynch: No epic farewell for Donald Trump...but US will be seeing ‘split screen politics’ for some time to come

Cordelia Lynch
·2-min read
<p>Donald and Melania Trump greeting supporters at Andrews Air Force Base before leaving for Florida</p> (AP)

Donald and Melania Trump greeting supporters at Andrews Air Force Base before leaving for Florida

(AP)

Profiles of Donald Trump’s departure from Washington will read more like obituaries.

Two weeks after a siege on the capitol and one week after he was impeached for inciting them, his presidency ended in a blaze of chaos.

He leaves behind a fortified city, a country with 400,000 dead from Covid19, a struggling economy and an almighty political schism. He is not it turns out, the man who ended “American carnage,” but a president who inspired it.

As Joe Biden prepared to preach about unity in front of a sea of flags, Mr Trump headed for the hills, or rather the haven of Mar-a-Lago - a MAGA oasis. There was no epic farewell fanfare. It was an ugly handover for an acrimonious era. Former comrades turned down the unexpected invite to wave him off.

An inauguration is meant to be a reopening of the great American democratic experiment. Biden used it try to convince the many Republicans who still think he stole the election, that they have a stake in it.

But his aggrieved predecessor, who’s lost power, lost loyalists and lost Twitter, is said to be plotting political revenge.

He’s reportedly talked to associates in the past few days about forming his own political party, “The Patriot Party.” His close friend Chris Ruddy tells me he’s sure Trump won’t run again, but he is the most powerful Conservative voice in America. He may prove impossible for Republicans to ignore - both an asset and an architect of outrage. Deciding where they stand with the man they enabled will define their political fortunes.

His former National Security Advisor, John Bolton told Sky News this week that Trumpism wouldn’t last. I’m not sure I agree. Seventy million voters watched four years of his leadership and decided they wanted more.

Cordelia Lynch on the National Mall ahead of the Inauguration Sky News
Cordelia Lynch on the National Mall ahead of the Inauguration Sky News

It was the voice of a more diverse, textured America that prevailed - one desperate for stability and civility. And yes, globalism and political convention will return to centre stage.

But Trump is more than an aberration. There are swathes of the country that will crave the unorthodox and previously unthinkable.

Trump changed people’s expectation of what a president can be, appealed to their anxieties and stoked them too. It remains an imperfect and hugely unequal society. I can’t see him resisting the urge to shout solutions from the sidelines or the media ignoring it. With a Senate trial looming, it may be politics in split screen for some time to come.

Cordelia Lynch is US correspondent for Sky News. She also hosts the Divided States podcast. @CordeliaSkyNews