Post #173: Keeping Trump Alive: A Strange Consensus

The leaders of both parties are divided on numerous matters, but on one critical piece of business they seem united: keep Donald Trump in office.  That rather extraordinary, and by no means welcome conclusion, stems from this simple observation: Republicans want to squeeze as much advantage as possible from Trump’s presidency to pursue and complete their domestic agenda, while Democrats want to squeeze the same advantage from Trump’s constant missteps and failure to push through his agenda.  Thus, while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan make excuses for every Trump excess and idiocy, they still value his continuation in office more than his removal—even for a tweet-less Pence presidency.  Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, attack every Trump move that undermines democracy and world order, but insist that impeachment is premature and that investigations of collusion and obstruction of justice must be allowed to proceed.

Republicans are hoping against hope that Trump’s agenda can somehow survive. Obamacare will finally be replaced, a big tax cut for the wealthy will be enacted, a Muslim ban will pass court muster, and employment and economic growth figures will start looking good.  The emperor’s political health is failing, but they need to keep him alive, at least through 2018.  Democratic leaders in Congress will do everything they can to frustrate the Republicans’ agenda so they can underscore Trump’s failures.  But while Trump’s defeats may be worth celebrating, they do not equate to Democratic success.  We should not underestimate how Republican legislative failures play in red states and Congressional districts.

Let’s face it: Republicans have the odds on their side.  The chances are slim to none that Trump will be indicted, impeached, or forced to resign.  Even in the best of circumstances, Robert Mueller’s investigation will probably take well over a year to reach a conclusion, and it is by no means certain that the conclusion will be so strongly against Trump as to force a Republican-dominated Congress to take action.  And at worst the Republicans have Mike Pence waiting in the wings.

Democrats may think that every day Trump is in office buys votes for them, but the jury (literally) is out on that one.  Plenty of analyses have appeared lately to show that Democrats remain deeply divided on strategy for 2018 and 2020—in a nutshell, whether to go for the jugular, as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren et al. prefer, and press for a truly progressive list of domestic reforms, or adopt a modestly liberal approach à la Hillary Clinton (and reflected in the Jon Ossoff campaign in Georgia) that is tailored to particular districts in each state.

Writing in the op-ed section of the New York Times on June 12, Charles M. Blow offers a reasonable guide to the road ahead: “In the end, the Resistance must be bigger than impeachment; it must be about political realignment.  It must be built upon solid rock of principle and not hang solely on the slender hope of expulsion.  This is a long game and will not come to an abrupt conclusion.  Perseverance must be the precept; lifelong commitment must be the motto.”

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4 Comments

  1. If we’re dealing with a demented whirlybird, which is the case, we have a very hard time settling on a rational mini-max strategy. I think this is our situation, and for now Republicans have the advantage.

  2. Re: # 173 – The Democratic Party seems to have learned nothing and is heading for loss after loss if it does not mend its ways. For decades, Dems ignored all the displaced folks that voted for Trump. Where was talk of new investment, like that of the German car manufacturers that revitalized 3-4 southern U.S. cities with new sources of employment? It feels hopeless that we don’t have a viable 3rd party. As Mel pointed out, Charles M. Blow said it well and wisely – political realignment is the hope and there are very few signs of it. Where shall we go? Do what? Yep, can and do carry out some actions recommended by “Indivisable,” or re: news items that outrage me, but don’t see a way out via Democratic Party not to mention how to deal with far-away gerrymandered districts, voter suppression in places like Texas, etc. WHERE shall those of use disgusted with the Democratic Party’s failures over the last 30 years go?

  3. Thanks, Roz. I couldn’t agree more–but like you, wonder where real change based on new thinking is going to come from. We all know the targets of our outrage, but scramble around when it comes to putting forth alternatives that make sense not only to progressives but also to sensible white middle-class folks who are looking for a better life for themselves and their children. Sanders, Merkley, and Warren seem to me to be our best hope.

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