DG MARTIN COLUMN: Peron, de Gaulle and Trump

Published 10:07 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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Democrats were celebrating their election victories last week in Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia. They have put aside at least temporarily their worries about the polls that show Donald Trump leads President Biden in the next year’s presidential election.

D.G. Martin

What many do not understand is that Donald Trump has established a political powerhouse and loyal group of followers whose political framework is based simply on their devotion to Trump. It is a special kind of loyalty based on more than his advocacy of issues important to them. It is much more than that.

Their loyalty goes beyond issues.

For them, Trump is their advocate, protector and guardian.

He is their champion or even their god.

He can do no wrong. But if he does, it will be forgiven.
Someday Trump himself will be gone. He will die, of course. Before then, he may lose an election or be defeated in another effort to take over the government by non-electoral means.

But his passing from the scene will not mean the end of the Trump movement.

Other national leaders such as Charles de Gaulle in France and Peron in Argentina have had powerful influences based on something more than issues, and their influences linger years after their deaths.

Perhaps the starkest evidence of the lasting influence of such a politician is that of Peron and his wife Eva in Argentina.

In the Nov. 19 Argentinean presidential election final, Sergio Massa and Javier Milei are competing. The New York Times, Oct. 23 edition, described Massa, currently minister of economy, as “a two-decade veteran of Argentine politics and the new leader of the Peronist political movement that has held sway in Argentina for decades and has won nine of the last 12 free and fair presidential elections.”

His opponent Milei was described in a Times article headlined “Javier Milei, a ‘Mini-Trump,’ Could Be Argentina’s Next President.” One of his proposals is to do away with the Argentine peso and make the U.S. dollar the official currency.

If Massa wins, it will demonstrate again the power of the Peronist movement.

Juan Peron, who died in 1974, still lives in Argentine politics.
Similarly in France, political parties and candidates still claim to be Gaullist based on their loyalty to Charles de Gaulle the French leader who died in 1970.

In a Nov. 9, 2021, article in Politico, John Litchfield wrote to explain the enduring influence of de Gaulle:

“In his lifetime, Charles de Gaulle was a divisive figure: revered by some, detested by others. He was adulated. He was mocked. He was finally rejected.

“No longer. Half a century plus 12 months after his death, de Gaulle is the presiding, many-headed deity of French politics.

“The far right, the right, the center, the left, the hard left, even some Greens, they are all ‘Gaullists’ now. Almost all tribes and tendencies of French politics claim to be, at least partially, followers or reincarnations of Charles de Gaulle, the wartime leader of Free France and founder of the Fifth Republic.”

Peronism and de Gaullism still live.

If our country follows the pattern of France and Argentina, Trumpism will still be in existence in 2090 when our great-great-grandchildren go to the polls.

Just think, your great-great-grandchildren may be able to vote for a Trumpist candidate in the United States…
…assuming, of course, they will still be holding elections in the U.S.

D.G. Martin, a retired lawyer, served as UNC-System’s vice president for public affairs and hosted PBS-NC’s “North Carolina Bookwatch.”