It’s difficult to believe that any of Trump’s worst White House enablers, the ones who stood back as Donald did crimes or the ones who happily helped him in his efforts, will truly suffer long-term career damage here, because the Republican Party remains a cesspool of corruption, misinformation and fascism and Trump’s closest staff have strong resumes in facilitating all three. In the short term, however, it’s indeed proving a bit of a pickle. Timing is the main issue. During a passably normal campaign cycle, after we all learn who got reelected and who got dumped, there’s a mad dash to fill out the staff rooms of the new folks in town before they take office in January.
But Trump screwed his staff mightily when he declared that maybe he didn’t lose the election after all—and kept saying it, through all of November, December, and until his removal on January 20. His most loyal staffers didn’t want to break the illusion by hunting for new jobs while he was claiming their old ones would still exist, so they kept quiet. And kept quiet. And kept quiet.
That was enough to strip them out of contention for most of the jobs inside politics. After Trump goaded a mob of America’s most violent far-right figures into attacking the U.S. Capitol, adding the colloquial definition of “treason” to everybody’s resume in big bold letters, it swiftly made his job-seeking allies toxic in the halls of private business as well. There are precious few large American companies who want to be publicly associated with violent insurrection. It’s not good for branding.
All of this is good news. Very good news, in fact. If the Republican staffers who enabled four years of fascistic corruption, organized hate, and sporadic treasons are having a difficult time landing new jobs, that suggests that there are still certain actions, in politics, that cannot so easily be swept back under the rug. Republicanism may now be premised on widespread disinformation and propaganda-peddling, but a corporation that does the same will find itself subject to lawsuits or criminal prosecutions. They’re going to bow out.
The bad news, of course, is that catch: Inside Republican circles, being known as a staffer so loyal that they allow their boss to extort foreign leaders, undermine democracy, provoke an insurrection and golf your way past a half million dead Americans without speaking up will likely result in all of these people soon landing on their feet. Maybe not in the next few weeks, while the memory of dead Americans inside the Capitol is still fresh. But later, after the heat dies down. There’s no evidence Republicans are abandoning their embrace of fascist principles and strategies, and considerable evidence they are redoubling those efforts.
It falls on the rest of us to impose the most minimal bit of morality to this situation. Lying to Americans on a daily basis not only should result in permanent disqualification from future politics, but must, if democracy is going to continue to exist. The same goes for Fox News, and for the My Pillow Guy, and fascism’s other still-eager allies: as a matter of patriotism and morality both, they must be isolated. They must be shunned. There must be a price for attempting to overthrow democracy via hoaxes and cheap trickery, and it must be a lasting one.