Crisis demands making majority rule great again
The first month of what strikes me as a “pretend presidency” confirms this awful truth: the malicious, ignorant, insecure, deceptive, ambush campaigner lurched into the White House without changing stripes – and thus popular support plunges to historic lows. Equally clear is this partisan, minority presidency, already rife with scandals and conflicts of interest, goes out of its way not to be a majority president. And that’s a crisis invoking this transcendent task: can a huge majority disarm the power of President Putz?
What if Trump disapproval numbers swell from the already astronomical 60%? What if 70%+ in three or six months disown Trump and Trumpism, evidence of considerable buyer’s remorse by those who elected Trump because they couldn’t stomach Hillary. Assuming this House will not readily impeach, that elevates the 2018 midterm as all-important. But doesn’t a large-enough majority command the political leverage to make Trump our sole first-year lame duck president? If juries can nullify, why can’t two-thirds promote our own pre-emptive impeachment?
Will our grandchildren (if they’re still free) not complain why such large disapproval numbers didn’t defy Trump’s rule by chaos, fear-based demagoguery or authoritarian attacks on the free press? Here’s one gambit from Charles Blow’s essay, “Pause This Presidency!:” Americans must demand at least a momentary respite from … Trump’s aggressive agenda to dramatically alter the social, economic and political contours of this country.”
Like others on the left, I don’t embrace the messy, drawn-out impeachment/trial/conviction mandate — Pence shields Trump. If progress depends on first-order changes to national parties, and GOP dissolution looks quite vulnerable when hard-wired to a badly-wounded bird at the top. Many dread an extremist President Pence who’s less overtly deranged, thus more capable to enact hard-to-reverse, reactionary horrors. An extended Trump stagger, dramatizing preposterous party failures, opens up 2018 for progressive Democrats and inspired third party voices.
Hoisted on the party petard
It’s not as if the law of unintended consequences, say Dubya’s misconceived, failed wars or serial regulatory/economic disasters, don’t riddle recent history. We’re beyond whether Russian or Trumpian or FBI malfeasance occurred, only to what degree they (pre-emptively) “rigged” the election (as the clown candidate whined). The longer Trump implodes, the greater the devastation to rightwing entrenchment, of late a marvel of regressive ideas with clueless governance. What if the totality of Trump corruption turns Clinton Foundation miscues into child’s play, surpassing staggering 19th C. scandals? That way lies full exposure of the rightwing brew of corruption, callousness and contempt for the majority.
Can a unified, pre-emptive multitude not pressure a (failed, hypocritical) sitting president, as with Nixon, to stand aside permanently? Think of Humpty-Dumpty’s fate were hard evidence to surface of Trump team collaboration, even collusion, with election-interfering Russians. What a delightfully excruciating GOP conundrum! If party leaders then force Trump out, with impeachment noise, his loyal fanatics will become unglued, bellowing conspiracy and civil war against Republicans for a generation. If instead the fatally-wounded Trump is caged in disgrace, Republicans replicate another “cancer on the presidency,” as John Dean described Nixon criminality. This shambles should incite genuine New Deal/Democratic populism to displace Trump’s flummery. Of course, Dems would have to find attractive candidates, younger than Sanders or Warren, to carry the banner — no easy task.
Trump I think is crazier than Nixon and with far less respect for the office. Why, the Trumpster could go so far as impugn his predecessor as a conniving, wire-tapping scoundrel. Oh, check that box. Trump could always send in the Marines because some nasty, foreign country (China, Mexico, France, whatever) is (per Breitbart) scheming his assassination. Perhaps imprisoning every confirmed treasonous Democratic senator – all 48. Or closing down the “fake news” press, or jailing Muslims caught praying. With Trump, the sky (or the darkest dread) doesn’t limit outrage or novelty PR stunts.
Civilization demands prevention
Even before Cheney’s 1% folly (how much terrorism justified first strikes), our history is flush with pre-emptive crimes defended as “national interest.” The trumped-up Mexican-American War (manifest destiny, California et al), Spanish-American War (Philippines), Vietnam, Chile, Panama, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, on and on. Don’t we pre-emptively spend trillions for arms we aren’t likely to use in wars we cannot win? Aren’t anti-terrorist billions spent to prevent some horror?
Elaborate, pre-emptive phone support systems impede would-be suicides. Clinicians must violate privacy rules when patients talk up violent crimes. Prudent regulations do prevent crashes, whether cars, planes and trains; now besieged air, water and soil pollution thresholds do minimize fatal diseases; mining and oil drilling rules do save workers and downstream citizens; food and drug oversight in advance serve general health and safety.
Full-scale medical operations, from flu shots and vaccines, transplants and heart devices, preserve life. Civil rights laws inhibit future harassment and abuses. We all waste billions on auto, property and home insurance most of us are thrilled not to need. Sensible drivers first attach seat belts, then respect traffic lights. Unlike other mammals, our human brains are geared to conceive the future, good or ill: what we call civilization wouldn’t exist without planning or setting goals.
Our genetic gift: An-tic-a-pa-tion
Because we automatically project ahead, millions dread Trump’s dominion over nuclear codes, if not military excesses. If he unilaterally inhibits immigration or trade or climate research, every grandchild suffers. Pick your Trump malady, whether self-evident Narcissistic Personality Disorder, unchecked fantasy/conspiracy paranoia, or his infantile Twitter obsession – all unified by pathological lying. Remember, a half-cocked gun held by a half-wit is primed for mayhem, punishing the guilty along with the innocent.
So, the necessity of pre-emptive, democratic impeachment presumes only two truisms:
- That character is destiny, that one’s core values best predict one’s mindset and target agenda. Bad news for most if Trump lasts more than a year or two.
- That the presidency is the most mentally demanding, most emotionally daunting, most consequential job – quick to expose how few reign without mucking up the works, thus jeopardizing everyone’s health, safety, and security.
Why not assess Trump as a jury judges guilty defendants, “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Polling over months records a distrustful majority convinced this impulsive, pretend president is unfit – beyond any reasonable doubt. The worst failure, individual or cultural, is not committing an inexcusable mistake, but subsequent denial, then refusal to begin the healing with vision, courage, and knowledge?
Survival on the line?
In short, deviant times demand boldly thinking out of the box – especially before the “box” of government is decimated. Can a manifest, self-evident majority not instruct Congressional members their careers will end if they don’t head off an incompetent, if not illegitimate leader awash with conflicts of interest? That means talking to neighbors and friends, fomenting non-violent street protests, more phone calls and visits to politicians, paying for print media to spur in-depth scrutiny – until a myriad of polls “impeach” Trump as an irredeemable menace.
Does not one stitch in time save nine? Is not prevention superior to any cure? When must we be safe, not profoundly sorry? Time to test whether indisputable majority rule will make us great again – reining in our biggest electoral mistake. That makes our best plan, short of House impeachment, to forcefully block his most absurd, unworkable campaign pledges, then wait him out. It’s not impossible, if he gets heavily pommeled, he could “pull a Palin” and quit halfway. That fall to pieces would be no stranger than his bizarre, meteoric rise.