Only the Republicans can bring down Trump

Sooner than most expected, the Trump administration is in trouble. Many are talking about how to end it, or hasten that end.

  1. The Democrats don’t have the power to take down Trump prior to 2020. Not even after 2018.
  2. The revolt against Trump almost surely has to come from within his own party.
  3. While many Republicans dislike Trump, revolt within a party is extremely difficult and goes against all party instincts.
  4. Republicans will strongly resist fighting Trump as the left would like, or in a way which benefits the left.
  5. As such, the more the left approves of a method of fighting Trump, the less likely it is the Republicans would use it.
  6. This suggests a very different anti-Trump strategy than the obvious one followed by most.

Many in the GOP would prefer not to have Trump, and are ready to be disloyal to him as their leader. They are not, however, prepared to be disloyal to their party and their movement. Career party members of both sides often will put loyalty to party ahead of loyalty to country, even though they would never admit that. This means that if the GOP does this, it must be for their own reasons, not the left’s, and it must clearly not appear to serve the left except in the broadest way.

This creates a conundrum for the left fighting Trump. If they rally around something, such as a Trump error, they push the right to reluctantly defend Trump on that issue. Many GOP can’t stand Trump but support him because the alternative is victory for the left, and injury for their party. As such, the best strategy for the left may be to pull back, or stick only to issues that are clearly their own.

The Democrats might consider strategies that are victories for the GOP. Conceding important items in congress in exchange for impeachment. The Republicans know the Democrats will vote for impeachment, so only a minority of Republicans need support it, but for them, a party divided like that is no victory. This may mean offering support for portions of Pence’s or the party’s agenda. Something so that the entire GOP can see it as a victory for their party. The Democrats lost in 2016, and they must accept that, and give up the hope that Trump’s fall would be good for the Democratic Party. They must accept only that it will be good for the country and neutral, or even slightly negative for the party.

It’s a common human foible but politicians cringe from ever admitting they were wrong. Those who supported Trump, even holding their noses, won’t see themselves as having failed. They won’t go, “Oh, you Democrats were right, sorry about that.” The reason will need to be something new, something few people knew or talked about before now. People are just less likely to do the right thing if they know it’s what their opponents want them to do.

The Democrats, however, are not a cohesive force. Even if “hold back and let the GOP do it” is the right plan, they will not embrace it in large numbers. Thus they will slow down the fall of Trump. This was a frequent mistake made during the election — the unprecedented level of contempt by the left for Trump and in particular for Trump supporters brought the Trump supporters together and made them stronger, rather than weakening them. It was a strong contributor to the Trump victory.

This advice does not mean, “Only complain about Trump in a way that the right-wing will understand.” Normally that is the best approach. Here, the problem is that as soon as a complaint is seen as coming from the left, there will be resistance to acting on it.

2018

Some hold out for a change of Congress in 2018. It is quite normal for the President’s party — especially an unpopular President — to lose seats in the mid-terms. Unfortunately, the senate seats up in 2018 are far from likely to swing the senate to the Democrats. In fact, only 9 Republican seats are up for re-election with only Nevada at risk, and many of the Democrat incumbents are in pro-Trump states. It would take an immense voter revolt to not have the Senate become more Republican. In the House, Operation Redmap has assured Republican control short of a very major shift, and it also seems to mostly assure — absent some sort of court ruling against Gerrymandering — that they will get to draw the lines again in 2020 and continue it for another decade.

The Deep State

One group that can take down Trump aside from the Republicans is the intelligence agencies. Many speculate that this is already underway. This is extremely troubling to me. A coup d’état by the intelligence agencies is still a coup, even if it meets some test of “being a coup that needed to happen.” This is a bad precedent because the truth is the intelligence agencies have deep dirt on everybody, so it becomes up to them to decide which coups need to happen and which don’t. (Indeed, we saw the Russian agencies use this power already.)

There are already checks and balances for this. If the agencies find evidence of treason or malfeasance by one branch, they should present it to the other branch to act. All evidence should go to the congressional intelligence committees. But that means that again, the Republicans must decide whether to take down their own.

The Press

The press can play a role, but mainly the right-wing or right-of-center press. Again, it is their criticism of Trump that would enable the Republicans to break party loyalty, not criticisms found in media even perceived to be left or otherwise inherently anti-Trump. This is one reason Trump has worked to push more media into that classification, because it means their attacks will not be respected by his base and his party.

Trump’s base is not the mainstream GOP

The strongest counter to this approach is that Trump won the GOP nomination (and election ) due to support outside the mainstream GOP, merged with support from the party-loyal factions in the mainstream GOP. He has a tool to use against his opponents within the mainstream GOP, the same tool he used to defeat them in the nomination process. So even they must take care, for while they care most about alienating their own base, and least about alienating the progressive left, they are worried about alienating the “outsider right” contingency that Trump stumbled upon. They ideally want to be seen as having done the best thing for the party and the country in any efforts they make to block, or remove, the President.

Redmap

With stuff like Operation Redmap going on, isn't it a farce to pretend that the USA is a democracy in any meaningful sense? Gerrymandering is not new, but there have been no high-profile grass-roots campaigns to end it.

And now there is a President who invents his own facts.

Why not just give up? The country is ruined. Probably, Trump will do something so stupid that someone will take him down, then civil war will result. Really.

Just give up

Things are bad but could be much worse. But I am curious, what would “just giving up” involve?

Redmap is quite nasty. The main hope is that the courts would rule it violates the equal protection clause — people’s votes are not being treated the same. (Many other things also violate that.)

To me it suggests you need an extra rule in your constitution, to deal with what is effectively a bug, a loophole. A power for somebody, either the courts, or perhaps any two branches, to say, “OK, this is a bug, and we’re invoking a limited power to fix it.” That power might be given to the court, or the power to invoke a national referendum under some rules.

The issue of course as that these bugs will advantage one party over another, otherwise we could get rid of them the old fashioned way. So you need a way to undo the bug that lets it happen against the will of one party, but which at the same time is not a bug of its own that would let one party dominate another by fixing bugs that aren’t bugs.

the narrow way

I can imagine more than one way to get to a Democrat president before 2020, but they require substantial sequences of dominoes to fall in just the right order. Sturm und Drang, my slogan.

1. Trump does something totally crazy, in full view of the nation. Not even the Republicans can look the other way, and he is impeached and either removed from office, or resigns in Nixonian style.
2. Mike Pence succeeds to the presidency, and begins a conventional Conservative roll back of the New Deal.
3. These events ignite a gerrymander-overriding voter revolt and Democrats take control of the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections.
4. The new Democratic Congressional majority blocks Pence's first attempt at a Vice Presidential nominee, and before a milquetoast compromise candidate emerges (think Jerry Ford), Pence is revealed to have brokered a deal with Russia for a naval base on the Mediterranean coast of Syria in return for Russian interference in the election, and is himself impeached.
5. In the absence of a Vice President, the Speaker of the House, now Nancy Pelosi, becomes President. Q.E.D.

But tempus fugit, and things are happening more rapidly than this timeline contemplates.

Pretty far fetched

The senate is not gerrymandered, but the hard fact is only a few Republican seats are “in play” in any serious sense in 2018, so a flip is pretty unlikely. You would need safe GOP states to start sending democrats to Washington. Not impossible but improbable.

I think Pence would name his VP quite quickly, especially if there was fear of this sort of thing.

But since they kept the Russian story from Pence and sent him out on the morning shows, I doubt he would have been involved in that sort of action. I say that knowing little about Pence.

Why give up?

Recently, John McCain, not noted as being particularly liberal-minded (yes, more sensible than most Republicans, but that is setting the bar pretty low, and he did accept Sarah Palin as a running mate), said about Trump "This is how dictators begin". He is not a man to exaggerate. During his campaign, he even corrected his own supporters when they unfairly criticized Obama.

The system is so broken that only a revolution could change it, and that won't happen, for a variety of reasons. With fake news now determining what happens, to borrow a phrase "the revolution won't be tweeted". Why waste time trying to change it? It won't happen. It will only get worse. Get out while you can.

McCain

I met McCain in 2000, when he was running the first time. He was a man of integrity, one of the most impressive politicians in that regard. But then Bush’s dirty tricks knocked him out of that race, and he sold his soul for the 2008 shot, which is why he accepted Palin. He has recovered a bit but he’ll never quite get back who he was, I fear.

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