Saturday, October 28, 2017

Magic Number

We're going to have to deal with THESE people
One of the key lessons we learn as adults is the simple universal fact that "every action has consequences". As we move from childhood to adulthood, we discover that when we act impulsively, no matter how clear the short-term win might be, there are often unanticipated outcomes that make things worse for us than they were. To at least some extent we learn the value of 'thinking things through', trying to game out the unintended and second-order consequences of any given action, and revising our activities based on the conclusions of that process. And, of course, the larger the decision, the larger the benefits, the larger also are the consequences of acting on that decision.

All of which brings us to President Donald J. Trump. As the Special Prosecutor announced the first indictments of the investigation, and as Trump acts more and more delusionally and unpredictably, the calls for some kind of Constitutional process (or, in some cases, extra-constitutional process) for removing him from office get louder and more strident. It seems completely reasonable, perhaps even likely, that at least one of these actions will be implemented before the end of his term in January of 2021. Let's think through at least some of the possible consequences.

Trump has a built-in 35% support among the national electorate. That's nowhere near enough to win an election - but when we start talking about options for removing him from office, it is more than enough to destroy American democracy. How do you suppose this 'base' - people who have watched the first year of the Trump administration in all it's chaos, incompetence and corruption and still think he's the best president EVER - would react to the long, slow, grinding impeachment process, let alone the arbitrary and difficult 25th Amendment process? And do we believe, even for a moment, that Trump would sit back and allow these processes - which he would certainly view as 'attacks' on him and his family - to play out unimpeded?

Remember those rallies that formed the basis of the Trump presidential campaign? The undertones of hatred, bigotry and violence radiated from them like heat waves, with his most loyal supporters only a single word or phrase away from lashing out? Let's imagine a rally in, say, Mobile, Alabama, in early 2019. Articles of impeachment have been voted out of the House and the Trial is set for the Senate. Now you have a beleaguered Trump and his loyal supporters, angry and with a clear enemy. The attacks on the press and the Democrats and any Republicans that voted in favor of impeachment would make all that has gone before look like playground antics.

And then what? After impeachment, Trump is embarrassed, furious, filled with a seething rage and desire for revenge. Does anyone really think that he would hold back from encouraging everything from riots to outright insurrection? This 'base' of Trump's is somewhere between 50 and 60 million Americans, with at least 35 million who can be considered the hardcore center of whatever 'Trumpism' is. And to them it is victimization, anger, hostility and a carefully cultivated sense of existential angst. With the encouragement of the man himself, unmoored and with nothing left to lose, any hope of governance, any hope of a peaceful election in November 2020 is gone. All bets are off, and we won't come out of it the same nation we went into it.

If the process isn't impeachment, but rather the exercise of the 25th amendment, we know less about what we would see. The 25th has never been exercised before, and there would be a lot of guesswork and challenges to the process. And Trump would still have his bully pulpit, right through the entire effort. If the effort failed, you would have an unhinged, angry President with all the available power of his office looking for revenge. If it succeeded, you would have the same net outcome as you would post-impeachment: A wounded animal in a rage, with millions of equally enraged followers, all in the run-up to another attempt at a democratic transfer of presidential power.

Ultimately, I have no recommendations. Leaving him in power is a clear and present danger, not just to millions of lives and livelihoods, but to American small-d democracy itself. Removing him from power may be the thing that puts an end to the American experiment in liberal democracy. The things we've seen over the last twenty five years - from the media, from the GOP and in the technological changes that enabled so much more political manipulation - have led us to this point. We have truly 'painted ourselves into a corner', and there's just no solution that leaves things intact. It's impossible to see a path from here to 2021 that gives one any hope. But no matter what we do, we mustn't ever stop thinking. Indulging in a feel-good political undertaking without a clear idea of how the story ends is even more dangerous than the status quo.


  1. Hi mikey, believe it or not, you and I are singing the same tune from different hymnals. I want to compliment you on the integrity with which you make your points. Today so many sites are simply trying to carry on the propaganda of their particular bias.

    As a matter of fact, I feel about Mrs. Clinton much as you do Trump. I will not recount all the misdeeds I believe she is guilty of, but suffice it to say everything from Benghazi to the Iranian deal.

    However, as I have said in the past on vixen's site, I do not wish for Mrs. Clinton to be indicted or do jail time. A simple rebuke would do. Simply because the amount of controversy and friction both here and abroad would do much more harm to the United States and injury to the American people. It would be a self-destructive indulgence on the part of people whose bias guides them rather than their sensibilities.

    Today our politics have just become too volatile and too squirrelly. Many examples could be give, but I would simply point out that leftist sites accuse men on the right who are powerful and have been abusive sexually, and on the right they only single out leftist abusers. Dear friends, they are all abusers. It is not a political issue. It is a criminal issue and a moral one.

    These powerful men, whether it be Clinton or O-Reilly, have private parts with a mind of their own. To politicize this just shows you how squirrelly this left-right divide has become.

    You're a sensible and principled liberal, mikey. And both sides could use more of that.

  2. Hi FA. Thanks for the kind words. You're right, but it's far more simple than you make it out to be.

    I'm interested in POLICY, not politics. I'm a gearhead. I want to understand what the project looks like, and how the hell to apply the right resources to make it work.

    But if you were to come back and check this, I would LOVE to hear your nuts & bolts argument AGAINST the JCPOA....