What dooms the Republican Party are not only Trump’s debilitating, self-destructive outrages but suicidal party servility. Only 27% of voters are registered Republicans, and you can’t rule a chicken coop when support nears that fraction (and only 11% away). And nothing in the next year looks to change the Dump Donald Trend (DDT) as centrists flee unhinged Trump Republicanism. That way lies party disintegration as the sensible, even compassionate majority stop Trump extremism cold.
In 2016, rightwing voters weren’t the only ones fleeced by Trump the Skunk. GOP politicians were rewarded with juvenile, insulting putdowns, compounded by endless Trump fraud, misdeeds, and lawlessness. You’d think Republican victims, harboring a glimmer of honor, would resent being abused. And defend careers. You’d think professionals would have more moves against an Archie Bunker TV has-been. You’d think perceptive leaders would be energized by electoral mayhem that spawned today’s vulgar illegitimacy. So far, the only Trump opposition are three minor league GOP challengers, and none from the ’16 dogfight.
The big question remains: does not zero systemic recourse against a law-breaking icon cry out for defiance, if not reform. Talk about progressive grievance! What Founder imagined the presidency as the ideal if unintended shield because it grants protection to criminality? Does not this void of accountability parallel what hypocrite DT preached against: a rigged, corrupt, unstable system that favors the elitist-driven status quo? No doubt DT is banking on the legacy that presidential malefactors don’t get indicted or punished after the fact. But for Trump, anything goes, and why should that not apply to prosecution after the fact?
My immediate thesis carries historic overtones: can a party survive, in moral and political terms, if it refuses to defy widespread Trump abuses, displaying not solid patriotism but blind passivity. Come on, victims, re-do the bad campaign and this time don’t pussyfoot around. Otherwise, the same slavishness that boosted Trump now looms as its own party land mine. Realistically, I don’t expect change, so take this as thought experiment. For centrists, Trump has gone too far, far too often, and I posit that will menace the rightwing hegemony. Are we to conclude being a Republican not only demands unthinking loyalty, hypnotized by short-term sheen, but subverting every long-standing principle when acquiescing to a president without any?
Worst is yet to come
Reality check: we’re still in early innings about confirming the magnitude of the Trump scam. Get those tax returns. We’re still clueless on many basics, like how many hackers spent how many Russian oligarch $millions to disrupt our election. We don’t know all the potential blackmailers (beyond prostitutes) who had or have Trump by the short hairs. We only know about unarguable collusion between the Trump campaign and criminal mischief, whether by Russians or assorted, unsavory Trump scoundrels. We barely know how corrupt was inauguration funding, or pay-to-play cabinet appointments. Every week we are further shocked by the crudest Trump self-dealing (defying the Emoluments Clause), namely G-7 pitches for the Doral, unduly favoring that remote Scottish airport, millions for hotels, parties, and the like).
I project 2020 as the potential Year of Corrupt Cronyism. Brace for more global scandals before the 2020 election, as investigations ramp up and peal off findings. Far too recklessly dumb, Trump is no better at covering his tracks than playacting the presidency. Because he’s “divinely entitled” to break all the rules, the potential for lawless debris to surface matches his non-stop career lying. Is anything clearer than how the willfully ignorant Trump scorns courts, legal precedents, judges, even the established idea of law? One dreads, after campaign misconduct when he never expected to win, what new outrages this re-elected outrage-machine could spawn.
The illegitimate Trump election depended on 1) scurrilous, bullying defamation, 2) violating campaign laws, 3) committing or proposing illegal actions, and 4) scamming/deceiving American voters. In short, Trump the crooked narcissist cheated — and letting cheaters get away with cheating undermines everything America justice supposedly stands for — if not common sense and minimal stability.
Election Trumps impeachment
If voters had legal standing and could litigate Trump misdeeds, the solution would prompt 1) indictment, 2) conviction, 3) restitution, and 4) some form of do-over. Since a president cannot readily be dragged into court, my mock do-over plan is simple: every injured GOP candidate, injured badly by Trump malfeasance, should declare this truth:
I ran a legitimate race against an illegitimate candidate who demonized me, illegally pressed followers to commit violence against dissenters, violated funding statutes by hiding payments to prostitutes, begged a foreign enemy to hack his opponents’ email — all the while pushing unconstitutional actions: crude, racist travel bans, insistence Mexico pay for the unbuildable Wall, anti-asylum measures, threats to citizen birthright, and commitment to an unauthorized, illegal tariff war.
Justice, if not the survival of an endangered party, demands some form of internal and external re-do. Isn’t that how we resolve crooked schemes, especially that work for a while? That way GOP primary victims not only offset a corrupt election, they offer everyone a chance to rescind the worst electoral decision in US history. That would acknowledge unintended illegitimacy plus set the example for positive future responses to massive abuse. Of course, if this fantasy were not a fantasy, more than one top Republican pol would have joined the Never Trumpers.
The reason Republicans won’t have a #Me-Too moment is their perverse devolution has filtered out all courageous, independent thinkers with guts, in the mode of even John McCain “mavericks,” knowing the good, longterm payoffs for opposing epic corruption. That my thought experiment won’t happen, even draw more than a handful of Republican challenges, only reinforces a party going full speed towards a cliff without looking up from its insular “party favors.” More’s the pity — but I can live with crushing this outmoded, unprincipled, hardly conservative entity well past its pull date. After all, “Moscow Mitch” is the other poster child for self-destruction and he won’t stop the carnage (or the Trump train) either.