Part I of this series, with the subtitle Terrible, Yes. But Compared to What?, argued that the disaster of Trump’s being elected should be compared with the alternative, i.e. Hillary’s having won. And that alternative was dark and troubling in its own way– not because Hillary wouldn’t have worked in competent and constructive ways, but because the signs were already clear that today’s destructive Republican Party would likely have continued its long-standing record of acting like a wrecking ball upon America. And Hillary was likely not going to be equipped to take that Party on and defeat it. All of which leads to this culminating point:
While Hillary’s victory would likely not have solved the deep and chronic problem in the American power system – i.e. a Republican Party that has been hijacked by a destructive force – Trump’s presidency might be handing us the opportunity America needs to sink that destructive force that has been gaining power in America over the past generation.
Part II: Getting the Rats to Go Down With the Sinking Ship Or,
Democrats! Seize the Opportunity to Drive this GOP into Oblivion
Lately, the signs have been increasingly favorable: more and more, it looks like Trump is going to go down.
A growing majority of Americans see Trump in very unfavorable terms. The Mueller investigation — which seems lately to be regaining public respect — is closing in on Trump and his gang on multiple fronts.
Meanwhile, the prospects for a Blue Wave have also reclaimed ground: the generic preference for the Democrats to control Congress has widened, the recent shifts in professional predictions of specific races have been in a Blue direction, and the futures market’s estimate of the probability of the Democrats controlling the House has climbed from percentages in the high 50s to the mid 60s.
It is a hopeful moment. We might well be able to discredit and defeat Trump (though, given his character, we can count on him to wreak as much destruction as he can on the nation on his way down).
But, getting rid of Trump is not enough. Even if Hillary had won, as I argued in Part I, today’s Republican Party would presumably have continued to wreak destruction on the American political system. And even if Trump is soon removed, it will still be necessary to obliterate the Republican Party in its current morally bankrupt — corrupt, dishonest, greedy, cruel — form.
Shortly after Obama first won the presidency, I wrote that turning back the destructive force that has taken over the Republican Party in our times was “Job One.” That job did not get done.
Although now the most urgent task is to check Trump’s power, bringing down this Republican Party altogether — compelling it to change fundamentally into a constructive conservative party or be driven into oblivion — remains the most fundamentally important task.
It is a task essential for safeguarding the destiny of America.
How the Republicans Handed Us the Means to Destroy Them
What makes this moment especially promising is that the Republicans have handed us — Democrats, Liberal America — a major opportunity to accomplish that task of bringing down this morally bankrupt Republican Party.
The Republicans have handed us the means to destroy their nefarious Party through the choice they have lately made: in what looks like an enforced error, the Republicans chose to become accomplices in Trump’s crimes rather than stand aside and leave Trump to his fate.
The GOP would inevitably have had to pay some price for Trump’s terrible performance as President, and for a downfall that will likely be more ignominious than that of Nixon—just by virtue of the fact that it was the Republican Party that gave us Trump.
But the Republican establishment didn’t want Trump to win their Party’s nomination: it was the Republican base that forced Trump onto the powers of the Party.
So while the Republican Party was culpable for creating a base so crazy that it could fall for a lying bully, few Americans saw that connection. And the GOP could have protected itself from any deep or permanent wounds by staying a safe distance from a President under a dark cloud.
A “safe distance” could mean working with Trump when it advanced their own goals, while standing aside as Trump’s many scandalous chickens come to roost. Trump’s coming ignominy then would only exert a minor downward pull on their public image, entailing a temporary loss of power.
(Nixon’s fall in Watergate did no lasting damage to the GOP– and that was despite Nixon’s having been elevated by the Party’s establishment.)
But today’s Republican Party did not choose to protect itself by maintaining such distance from Trump. Instead, the Republicans in Congress chose to tie themselves inextricably to this disgraceful — and likely doomed — President by making themselves into Trump’s accomplices in his assault on the rule of law.
In the most blatant ways, with their lies and distractions, the Republicans have violated their oath of office to protect the Constitution, choosing instead to protect this lawless President.
By tying themselves so tightly to this President, by becoming the “Trump Party,” these Republicans have handed the Democrats with the means to destroy the GOP in its present form.
The Task for Democrats
But that will not be accomplished on its own.
What we have here is not a given, but an opportunity— and the Democrats have to seize it.
The task facing the Democrats — in order to make the most of this opportunity in the crucial 2018 mid-term battle — is to get as big a proportion of the American electorate as possible to see what a threat the Trump Party poses to much that they value.
What’s special about this moment is that — with this combination of the Trump presidency and the Congressional complicity — never before has the moral bankruptcy and destructiveness been so blatantly displayed.
Never a President like this—so dishonest, so reckless, so contemptuous of our constitutional order and the rule of law. Never a President who appears aligned with a hostile power and against the interests of the United States.
Never a Party in Congress so openly violating its oath of office and complicit in the betrayal of the nation.
The moral bankruptcy of this Republican Party is not, of course, limited to its collusion with a President who has apparently colluded with a hostile power. The sins of the GOP include widening the gap between the richest and the rest, and adding to the stress for millions by increasing their health care insecurity.
On some such issues there are political disagreements. But there are some sins that go beyond politics. Like Betrayal of the nation (including leaving the United States almost defenseless against an ongoing attack on our election system from a hostile power, which threatens also our nation’s infrastructure).
Everyone hates treason.
So the task for the 2018 campaign is maximizing the number of Americans who can see that the Trump Party must be repudiated, and power must be handed to the Democratic Party as the one instrument available to protect America’s vital interests and basic values.
Maximizing the Blue Wave requires getting the support not only of those who see this Republican ugliness for themselves. It requires also gaining the support of all who can be led to see it when it’s shown to them powerfully enough.
The utter moral collapse of the Republican Party is the central reality of this extraordinary moment– the root of an ongoing national crisis of great historical importance.
For one of America’s two major political parties to so fully embraced brokenness and destructiveness is extraordinary. It should be the BANNER HEADLINE in the 2018 campaign.
No campaign that ignores the central political reality of the times can be powerful. A campaign that ignores that reality — ignores our profound national crisis — would be a recipe for weakness. And it is the kind of weakness Democrats have displayed in one political battle after another.
If the Democrats can present the truth about this moment clearly and powerfully enough, then, when Trump is plunged into the depths, the Republicans — prevented from untying themselves from this disgraced President– can be drowned along with him.
Are the Democrats Up to the Job?
But, unfortunately, there are good reasons to be skeptical about the ability – or willingness – of the Democratic Party of our times to wage the kind of campaign that will accomplish this.
That will be the topic of Part III: The Urgent and Obvious Question Democrats/Liberals Are Failing to Ask.