TTP: FuturePast

I happen to believe that the South Carolina Republican primary in early 2016 will one day be seen as the point at which Donald Trump’s nomination reached a critical mass. After it, Trump’s nomination became increasingly probable. The ability to turn in a different direction narrowed with each passing week.

Here’s why. South Carolina in early 2016 was a place with public opinion apparently unfriendly to Donald Trump. Public support for George W. Bush was high. The Iraq War and the War on Terrorism had deep support in the state. The US military as a whole was enormously popular in South Carolina.

Donald Trump spoke openly of his disdain for Bush and the Bush family, renounced the Iraq War and other mistakes he said had been made overseas, and more significantly still, speculated about various nefarious rumors regarding September 11. As a brash New Yorker with no record of military duty, he seemed an uneasy fit in the Palmetto state. If there was ever any place where an opponent of Trump would win decisively without any home-state advantage, where Republican Establishmentarians would right the ship, this was it.

And yet, Trump won the Republican vote in the South Carolina primary by an 11% margin. Crushing. This victory signaled a political earthquake in the Republican Party.

Down the road we could look back at South Carolina and say something of a similar scale shook the Democratic Party in late February 2020 when its version of Donald Trump was at a moment of ascendancy.

Both tonight’s candidate debate and this weekend’s primary vote will serve to either cement into place or jackhammer into pieces the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The chances are good the one or the other will be true.

In the future we will likely look back to now as a point of critical turning in the past. We will know we were living through history and sensed it at the time, when time was the present. Our self-awareness will be aided by the uncanny resemblance of two people, two junctures, and the same one place separated by four years less a few days.

This is FuturePast.