Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Just because Robert Reich is a partisan doesn't make him entirely wrong

Robert Reich is a left-wing economist who can be depended upon to be quite partisan, and his list of "Warning Signs of Impending Tyranny" seems to have been carefully composed with specifically Donald Trump in mind. It should, therefore, be taken with a grain of salt. But it should not be dismissed outright.

We have never had a president like Donald Trump, He lacks the intellect of, say, a Franklin Roosevelt or an Abraham Lincoln, both of whom pushed the constitutional envelope but at least knew that they were doing so and did so with a certain reluctance. Trump's constitutional ignorance and an egotism which seem to put his own whims on a higher plane of authority than the law, however, are worrisome, and so are many of the "warning signs" Reich lists.

I see no better than a 50/50 chance that Trump will escape impeachment in his first term. Everything about his past and his character suggests that his behavior will become so outrageous and such a liability to the Republicans in Congress that they will be willing remove a president of their own party in order to get the more tolerable (and qualified)l Mike Pense into the Oval Office. The one thing that could save Trump, ironically, is a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2018, something which I see as likely. Mind you I don't necessarily think that this would preclude Trump's impeachment, but it would make it much less likely since it would turn the issue into a far more partisan affair than it would be if the GOP itself were seen to initiate the process. Republicans on Capitol Hill might feel compelled to defend Trump if it's the Democrats who lead the attack If that happens, getting the two-thirds majority in the Senate necessary to convict might be difficult, though not necessarily impossible. If Trump does finish his first term, I see his defeat in his bid for re-election as inevitable. I see no way the most unqualified and unfit president in our history can fail to be a disaster. I wish I could.

Of course, I saw his defeat in the race for the GOP nomination as inevitable, too. And I took his defeat in the general election as a given. But neither Republicans nor American voters generally saw through him with sufficient clarity to understand what a disaster he would be in the Oval Office.

By 2020, even the most blindly partisan will no longer be able to deny the obvious, at least to themselves- though I fully expect a majority of the Republican primary voters to remain in sufficient denial to get the man renominated no matter how much of a disaster he is. Admitting a mistake of this magnitude will be hard.

Again I hope I'm wrong. I really do. That Trump is psychologically immature and unstable and massively ignorant of things a high school civics student knows are givens. But I hope he learns quickly enough to listen to people like Pence and Gen. Mattis, who do know what they're doing. The trouble is that it would be grossly out of character.

But even though I'm certain that the real conservatives in the GOP will mount a spirited challenge, probably behind Ted Cruz, I expect the hyperpartisanship in whose grasp both parties languish to keep Trump in control of the Republican party at least through 2020 and possibly beyond. The only force strong enough to depose him even in failure is probably Ted Cruz and the Tea Party crowd. We had the chance to opt for a decidedly conservative but rational alternative like Marco Rubio last year. We blew it, and the chance will not come again.

I believe that the future of sane conservatism is in the New Conservative Movement Evan McMullin has launched. In 2020 he will not be an unknown stepping into the race far too late to make a difference. Especially given the President-elect's obsession with him, in 2020 he will be a national figure. He will have Donald Trump to thank for that. And he already has a national organization of sorts, a loyal cadre of supporters who are already looking forward to the 2020 race and laying the foundation.

I am convinced that the Republican party is compromised beyond recall. It is now the reincarnation of the Know-Nothings. The McMullin movement, or something very much like it, will step in to pick up the fallen banner of Lincoln and Reagan, and in it lies the future of conservatism.

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