Hate to say it, but I don’t see this Trump thing ending well

It's not easy to keep a republic going. Ask the French -- they're on their Fifth, in less time than we've had one.

It’s not easy to keep a republic going. Ask the French — they’re on their Fifth, in less time than we’ve had one.

Some good people who place their faith in the rule of law may have gained encouragement from the guilty plea of Michael Flynn. After all, this is the case that Trump tried to get Comey to back off on, before firing the FBI director. Time to start up the impeachment apparatus!

Others will cite the continuing stream of evidence that the president is not right in the head, from making “Pocahontas” jokes when he’s supposed to be honoring the Navajo Code Talkers to telling people that he doubts that was him on the “Access Hollywood” tape — more than a year after admitting that it was. Obviously, a case for the 25th Amendment!

But setting aside the facts that a) Republicans would have to initiate and drive either of those processes for removing a grossly unfit president, and b) Republicans have shown us time and time again that they are too terrified of Trump’s supporters even to mutter a word against him, I don’t think it’s time to get optimistic that this madness will end soon.

Even if Republicans were ready, willing and able to take those steps, I’m pretty sure the original problem would remain: Trump’s fans would go ballistic.

The terrible truth that faces us is that no amount of evidence of Trump’s unfitness is likely to ever persuade these folks of the truth. They are inoculated against evidence. If the truth makes Trump look bad (and it most assuredly does), then to them it’s not the truth; it’s “fake news.” As unlikely as it would seem to most rational people, they actually seem to believe that. But whether they believe it or not, they act as though they do, which is what matters.

But so what? Most of the country can’t stand Trump, so those people can’t control what happens! Right?

Wrong, at least so far. Remember, most of the country held Trump in contempt at the time of the election, and yet here we are. More importantly, since the early 90s Republicans have been enormously successful at drawing electoral districts so that most of them are safe for Republicans. This, however, instead of empowering the people who drew those lines, has undermined them. It has caused them to walk in fear of someone running to the right of them in their next primary. Consequently, as a result both the election of a lot of those extremists and the fear of such occurrences on the part of more moderate Republicans, the party has moved farther and farther out onto its own fringe.

Even if the current GOP House got up the nerve to impeach Trump, it’s highly likely that what they fear would occur: They would be replaced by others who are more extreme than they are.

But forget the insidious effects of gerrymandering. The fact is that the nation can ill afford to have the Trump bloc, minority though it is, believing they were cheated out of having their guy in the White House. I’m not talking about armed insurrection here, although we can’t totally rule that out. I’m saying our system of government would have its greatest crisis of legitimacy it has ever faced. (At least, since 1860-65.)

Remember the snit fit Democrats had after Gore was found to be the loser in Florida (and he was the loser in Florida)? It went on for eight years, and many of them still believe the U.S. Supreme Court “stole” the election and “gave it” to Bush. And these were relatively sensible people, not a cult that worships at the altar of “alternative facts.” (In fact, there was one way you could have counted the votes so that Gore won — just not the way Gore had demanded they be counted. That way, and most ways, he lost.)

There is already ample evidence that the common vision of what America is all about has largely been lost, and not only among Trump voters who think “liberal democracy” means a democracy run by Nancy Pelosi. David Brooks had a good piece on that a couple of weeks ago.

As divided as we are, can you imagine what it would be like if some 30 percent of the electorate — a bloc utterly immune to contrary evidence — was convinced that it had been robbed?

How would we ever get back on an even keel? And even if the next occupant of the Oval Office is the best president we’ve had in 50 years, how would he or she lead us?

There was a thoughtful piece in The Washington Post today arguing that the only good way to get rid of Trump will be at the ballot box in 2020. But given the facts on the ground at this moment, can we even be confident that that would happen?

(Get back to me in a few days. I’m still reading Tom Holland’s Rubicon, and I’ve finally gotten up to the events of 49 B.C., and steeping oneself in that era is not a thing likely to inspire confidence in the staying power of republics…)

To cross or not to cross?

To cross or not to cross? Either way, the Republic’s pretty messed up…

42 thoughts on “Hate to say it, but I don’t see this Trump thing ending well

  1. Doug Ross

    Tax cuts will pass… he got something equivalent in scope to Obamacare done quicker. That took some political skill (like the cuts or not).

    Supreme Court upholds (for now) the travel ban (and it wasn’t 5-4, it was 7-2)…

    Completed an international trip where the biggest incident was how he fed some koi fish…

    We’ve gone almost a year now with the constant drumbeat of “about to impeach”, “unfit for office”, “Mueller will surely get him”…

    He’s not my President and I still would prefer anyone else but him or Hillary, but he’s doing exactly what he said he would do. Maybe not as fast as he was used to as a private citizen… but for those people who voted for him, I would guess they are satisfied with the results (while still cringing at the Tweets).

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  2. Mr. Smith

    Well, if the 30-percent rule is going to apply, then you may as well go ahead and give up now, because the same could apply to something like the Mueller investigation. More importantly, South Carolina’s 2020 electoral votes are already in Trump’s bag, so there’s another reason to throw in the towel.

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  3. bud

    More importantly, South Carolina’s 2020 electoral votes are already in Trump’s bag, so there’s another reason to throw in the towel.

    People like Brad easily see how odious Gerrymandering is yet fail to see how utterly horrible the electoral college is. As long as we keep this constitutional failure of a system the more likely it is we end up with disasters like W and Trump. The four horsemen of the political apocalypse will continue to sink our once proud nation into the sewer.

    As a reminder the four horseman are named:

    Gerry
    Elco
    Vosup
    Fox

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    1. Doug Ross

      Run a candidate with broad national appeal… instead of one who can only win states with large urban populations. Hillary lost the Rust Belt and the Heartland. That was her fault. If she had shown up in a few more states instead of assuming she would win, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

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      1. bud

        By definition a candidate who has broad national appeal is the one who can garner the most voters. Trump’s voters were the very antithesis of “broad national appeal”. He almost exclusively appealed to white voters. It’s only by a quirk of state boundaries drawn 200 years ago that made his election possible. Just do this little exercise to see how random electoral math really is. Take the 3 western most counties in the Florida panhandle and cede them to Alabama. Then take the Philadelphia suburban county that’s located in New Jersey and cede that to Pennsylvania. Those changes actually make the new state boundaries MORE culturally similar which seems to be the argument used to defend the electoral college. The FL panhandle counties in particular are very much like Alabama and really completely different from Miami Dade county. Hillary wins. There are a number of other small changes that give the win the Hillary.

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        1. Doug Ross

          “By definition a candidate who has broad national appeal is the one who can garner the most voters. ”

          No, it doesn’t. Not in any way… Your definition of national appeal thinks that having a large populous of like minded people in one concentrated area (LA, NYC, Chicago, Philly) is more important than addressing the needs of people in other less populous regions.

          Unfortunately, you are still in sour grapes mode and won’t accept that the electoral college will never change. There is no way for it to happen. So instead of beating a dead horse, find a better candidate. One who isn’t polarizing, lazy, and unethical. Clock’s ticking for 2020. Who’s your best candidate to win 270 electoral votes?

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          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s a statement that works both ways. In the sense Bud means it, Trump’s appeal is not “broad.”

            Conversely, if you don’t have white support, you don’t have broad appeal. You know, since there are more white people than any other group.

            Neither of the candidates in the 2016 election had what I would call “broad” appeal, despite all Hillary’s claim to represent women (sorry; couldn’t resist). You had the two least popular candidates in the country running for president, a lose-lose proposition….

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            1. bud

              Hillary did get about 48% of the white, female vote. So really Trump’s support was heavily concentrated among one demographic.

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              1. bud

                Factual correction. Hillary got 43% of the white, female vote compared to Trump’s 53%. All the other race/gender breakdowns went at least 61% for the winner. Trump only had a decisive (20+) win among one group, white men.

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          2. bud

            Sorry Doug you couldn’t be any more completely wrong on this. Broad appeal clearly means appeal across demographic and cultural identities. Trump ONLY appeals to white suburban and rural voters. And even among that demographic he mostly appeals to bigots. He really doesn’t appeal to non-bigoted whites but many convinced themselves that Hillary was evil incarnate and hence justified voting for a p-grabbing moron. And his disasterous presidency is the result by ANY measure other than the bank accounts of the rich.

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            1. Doug Ross

              ” And even among that demographic he mostly appeals to bigots”

              And that’s the message that cost Hillary the election. Keep up with that and see what happens in 2020.

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              1. bud

                So be but I have to call it the way I see it. A huge chunk of Trump voters are bigots that would be happy repealing laws against inter-racial marriage, Jim Crow laws and perhaps even women’s suffrage. It really is a sad day in America.

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          3. bud

            Your definition of national appeal thinks that having a large populous of like minded people in one concentrated area (LA, NYC, Chicago, Philly)

            and Atlanta, Charlotte, Austin, Raleigh, Miami, Seattle, Portland, Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego, Washington DC, Boston, Milwaukee, Denver, Las Vegas, Houston, Albuquerque, Columbia, Charleston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Savannah and on and on.

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          4. Juan Caruso

            Gee, Doug, can’t we guess Bud’s preference ourselves?

            What Democrat beats Hillary more than 6 ways from sunday on:
            1 – Professional legal experience and conviction rate
            2 – Liberal reliability
            3 – personal appearance, youth and style of dress
            4 – women’s issues
            5 – LGTB.. issues
            6 – not married to a predator, nor tied to a foundation for a bogus charity
            7 – ethnic heritage: Tamil Indian mother and Jamaican father

            Why, U.S. Sen Kamala Harris, of course!

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        2. Claus2

          ” It’s only by a quirk of state boundaries drawn 200 years ago that made his election possible”

          So the Democrat’s strategy is to redraw state lines…

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          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, what Bud says is a misrepresentation of history.

            We didn’t start with a unified country and divide it up into states. Sovereign states, each of them formed under its own unique circumstances over more than 150 years, got together and decided to surrender some of that sovereignty in order to form a union.

            In other words, we had the states — the original 13 that is (which we Easterners like to think of as “the real states”) — before we had a country. States are not a “quirk”…

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            1. Claus2

              So I stand by my point, what do you want to do… redraw state lines to better meet your wanted numbers?

              How about we take San Francisco and Los Angeles out of California, then California would be a Red state.

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            2. bud

              Yes, that is the way it started. But the boundaries are obsolete now. They mainly serve as large administrative districts today. Sure some states in the aggregate may have different laws regarding driving, marriage and guns but there is certainly extreme differences within any given state. Austin TX has far more in common with Boston or San Francisco than the rural counties in the northern panhandle of TX. When it comes to presidential elections shouldn’t we adhere to a one man (or woman) one vote principal? Since electors don’t actually do anything other than robotically follow the arcane rules of their individual states what purpose do they serve?

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      1. Claus2

        Which is what? From what I can tell it’s doing exactly what it was intended to do, elect presidents who win each individual state’s popular vote.

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      2. bud

        And the only thing wrong with Kennedy’s trip to Dallas was that detour through Dealey Plaza.

        Hey I’ve will to concede that the ORIGINAL intent of the electoral college was noble. Don’t give people direct control over the presidential decision. But it’s become so basterdized that it really does exactly the opposite of what was intended by making morons like Trump MORE likely to get elected.

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    1. Claus2

      If you went to a baker and he refused to bake a cake for you, and you sued him, made a federal case out of this, would you really want to eat the cake he was forced to make for you?

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      1. Bart

        WOW, profiling because of what the male does for a living! So, all males who are cake designers are latent homosexuals, right? In other words, when my son and I baked and designed a cake for his Cub Scout troop, somehow this equates us to being latent homosexuals? Are female cake bakers latent homosexuals also? Maybe my niece should tell her husband and two children she is gay and hasn’t come out of the closet yet.

        Are all male hairdressers gay too? Then I need to tell the guy who has a booth next to the lady who cuts my hair he should tell his family and come out to his clients.

        So, in your world, artistic ability = gay or at the very least, latent homosexual proclivities.

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          1. Mark Stewart

            I think Bill does have a point. It often turns out that those men – it’s almost always men – who get all worked up in public about what other people do in private somehow too frequently turn out to be closeted “self-loathers” themselves.

            I’d bet $5 bucks it turns out the cake baker is at least a latent homosexual. Or a past experimenter or something… not because he is a cake baker, but because he has gone and gotten himself all wrapped up in some sort of nonsensical religious justifying to both attempt to avoid interacting with homosexuals while at the same time remaining immersed in the social-sexual conflict. It’s just about the dumbest damn case to ever occupy the Supreme Court’s time. That’s a fact.

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