Saturday, May 20, 2017

What Trump on the ropes can do to the GOP - and the rest of us

Don’t celebrate yet - Trump on the ropes is a dangerous animal

Sasha Abramsky (The Nation) issues a serious warning that Trump Is a Cornered Megalomaniac—and That’s a Grave Danger to the Country He will likely resort to all the tricks of the demagogue as he fights for his survival.

Now he is, to put it mildly, on the ropes. His policy priorities are in a shambles, the courts are blocking his immigration “reforms,” and day by day he is being subjected to a regimen of leaks that are the political equivalent of death by a thousand cuts.

Men like Trump do not fade gently into their political night. Rather, with all nuance sacrificed in pursuit of their senescent need for the spotlight, they scrabble and scratch, lash out and fight. With no self-limiting or self-correcting moral gyroscope, they go down whatever paths they believe offer them the best chance of survival.

We have to assume that Trump will, in desperation, at some point try to unleash his mob; that he will try to intimidate and harass into silence those who oppose him. We have to assume that he will try to manufacture—or exacerbate—international crises as a way of rallying on-the-fencers to his side. We also have to assume that, as he grows more unstable and more self-pitying, he will make more enemies on all sides—and that those enemies in turn will only fuel his fury.

Yes, it’s a cause for celebration that this miserable, cruel man is on the ropes. But let’s not celebrate prematurely. There is much work to be done still to neutralize his demagogic hold over the country; and while that work is being done, we must stay more vigilant than ever against his increasingly destructive actions. He is a soulless, amoral thug, a con artist now fighting for his life. I do not doubt that, in the end, he will be destroyed—that all of those craven, fair-weather friends, those men and women in the GOP whom he embarrassed and humiliated, mocked and deliberately hurt throughout the primary process but who embraced him upon his electoral success, will turn on him as soon as they believe they can so do without destroying their own political careers. I do not doubt that he will be derided in the history books as an unmitigated catastrophe for the country. But while those fair-weather friends are still girding for their fight, and the historians are still whetting their pens, Trump, our wounded despot, remains a clear and present danger.

And among those at risk are members of his own party. Read on.

From the Right: Will Trump take down the GOP?

Assuming that Trump will take the fall, what damage will he inflict on the way down? Even some influential conservatives anticipated serious damage to the Republican party - even before the election was done. For example:

[Rick] Wilson, Republican consultant and writer [1, 2], had little patience for the idea that Trump might still turn it around. “He’s 70 years old. He’s a narcissistic sociopath. He’s not going to change,” he said. “There is no better version of Donald Trump, no mindful, serious, presidential version, only the reality-TV, con-man, pro-wrestling dipshit Donald Trump.”

Here’s another, current example from the Washington Post’s Opinion pages.

Erick Erickson, editor of The Resurgent (a “home for conservative activists”), makes a prediction about the Republican party: Here comes the GOP bloodbath. Here are snippets.

Donald Trump was able to connect with voters with whom he had nothing in common largely because the Clinton campaign left a vacuum on the other side of the aisle, which Trump gladly filled. Nonetheless, throughout 2016 I maintained my opposition to Trump for three reasons, two of which are increasingly, worryingly relevant.

First, I did not think Trump could beat Hillary Clinton. When it came to the popular vote, of course, he did not, but thanks to roughly 70,000 people in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, he won the presidency.

Second, I thought that Trump, even if he won, would be deeply destructive to the national fabric and to the conservative ideas I support.

Third, I strongly believed that Trump lacks moral character and that he sets a bad example both for my children and for people of faith. I repeatedly said throughout the campaign that if God wanted Trump in the White House, he would not need Christians to dirty themselves to make it happen.

Unfortunately, while I was wrong about my first concern, I am increasingly worried about the latter two. Trump’s evangelical Christian supporters often told me that whether we liked Trump or not, we needed him to save the Supreme Court. My response remains that four years of Clinton appointing judges, while awful, would be nothing compared with a generational wipeout of the GOP. Watergate may have turned Charles Colson from hatchet man to pastor, but the defense of President Trump is turning a lot of pastors into hatchet men. Few people come away from Trump’s orbit without compromising their characters.

A Republican reckoning is on the horizon. Voters are increasingly dissatisfied with a Republican Party unable to govern. And congressional Republicans increasingly find themselves in an impossible position: If they support the president, many Americans will believe they are neglecting their duty to hold him accountable. But if they do their duty, Trump’s core supporters will attack them as betrayers — and then run primary candidates against them.

The president exudes incompetence and instability. Divulging classified information to the Russians through bragging; undermining his staff’s defense of his conduct through inane tweets; even reportedly asking the FBI director to suspend an investigation of a former adviser — all these strike me not so much as malicious but as the ignorant actions of an overwhelmed man. Republicans excuse this behavior as Trump being Trump, but that will only embolden voters who seek greater accountability to choose further change over stability. The sad reality is that the greatest defense of the president available at this point is one his team could never give on the record: He is an idiot who does not know any better.

Read more of the Washington Post opinion piece to get details of Erickson’s case that I left out.

As I concluded back in March of 2016 [3], the demise of the GOP “is not a cause for celebration but rather a reason for concern. Recall what arose from the ashes of the Weimar Republic.”

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