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The Danger for Democrats



There is a tendency on the part of liberals and Democrats to want to see this president fail.

He is widely loathed, so much so that, even were he to advocate 100% on behalf of Democratic proposals, I think most liberals would still like to knock him out. We can go into the reasons why—for me, it’s his repugnant character above all—but the point I want to make is that, while it’s fine to hate Trump, Democrats mustn’t lose sight of the very real dangers he poses to the party.

For the fact is, Trump is holding some nice cards. The game isn’t over, far from it, but if things break right for him, and they could, he could score significant victories over the next few months, teeing him up for even more down the road, and pushing his poll numbers upward.

Take healthcare. After the disastrous collapse of Trumpcare the first time around, House Republicans, including the tea party-affiliated Freedom Caucus, apparently have agreed on a compromise, meaning that the House seems poised to pass Trumpcare 2.0 despite what will probably be unanimous opposition by Democrats. Its future in the Senate remains problematic: what will the Susan Collinses do now that the new version is even harsher on people? But still, House passage of Trumpcare 2.0 will be scored a significant victory, and will vindicate him in the eyes of his supporters. And if the Senate passes it, Trump will be in major braggadocio mode.

Then there’s the tax plan. As I write, all the reporting is that the bare bones released on Wednesday don’t contain many details. But from my understanding, there’s lots for both sides to agree on, and while I personally don’t think the plan amounts to much (it nudges the lines here and there but doesn’t represent fundamental reform), it could be the huge victory Trump has been looking for. This, politically, would be redemption, and would enhance his image.

Then there’s foreign affairs. The easiest thing in the world for a president, in order to bolster support back home, is to fulminate against America’s “enemies.” In this case, I doubt that anyone is in favor of North Korea getting an ICBM; even the most ardent leftie knows Kim Jong-un is bad news. Nor has the Iranian public relations machine been very effective. Two generations of Americans have been raised to see the Islamic Republic of Iran as a clear threat to our security. So when Trump shakes his fist at those two countries, he has a lot of sympathy. No one wants war, but a war with either Iran or North Korea or, God forbid, both—while it would be widely opposed by many here—nonetheless would generate far more sympathy and patriotism. So here, Trump has a winning hand.

His supporters already have shrugged off his failures concerning the Muslim ban and the Mexican wall. “At least he tried,” they reason, blaming “liberals” and scaredy-cat Republicans for blocking them. So no harm, no foul for Trump there; and besides, the Supreme Court could resurrect the Muslim ban. The Wall, or absence thereof, is more troubling from Trump’s point of view, but not building it could actually redound in his favor, since there would be no evidence of how expensive and futile it would actually be, if it ever got built. And he’d always be able to blame Democrats; every time an illegal alien killed someone, Trump would say it was the Democrats’ fault.

Finally, back to the repugnant behavior. It’s true that, from a moral, ethical and spiritual point of view, Trump is disgusting. I truly believe that 90% of his supporters agree, maybe not publicly, but in their private conversations. However, they, and the Republican Party, have normalized him, and the media has talked itself blue in the face about all the scandals, with scant results. It may even come to be that Trump’s character defects become plusses, as the perception shifts from awful and dangerous to weird and quirky, kind of like the daffy neighbor (Kramer from “Seinfeld”).

For all these reasons, Democrats have reason to be concerned. The Resistance is all well and good, and we certainly won the first 100 days. But ultimately, resistance may not be enough. There’s one “trump” card remaining: RussiaGate. Dems currently are piling all their chips on it, hoping to sweep the table. But what if RussiaGate ends up to be a great big yawn? What do Dems do then?

The Democratic Party has got to consider these possibilities, or we’re stuck with Trump for 3-1/2 more years, and possibly four more after that.

  1. Jeff Knight says:

    If his health plan passes it will affect his own followers to their detriment.

    Taxes. Not sure what part you think is liked by both parties. Everything I read and hear is that Democrats are solidly against the huge giveaway to corporations and the wealthy who will be able to incorporate themselves and take the 15% bracket as well. And it can not be paid for, the budget won’t balance. Many Republicans don’t like it.

    War with North Korea, God forbid, would be a conflagration, a loss of millions of lives. Seoul would be rubble. We would be so engaged that terrorists would have a field day sniping everywhere. Worldwide depression, panic, fear. I don’t see how that works in Trumps’ favor.

    I’m hoping your assessment is wrong and that his cards are played out. What to do about the radical right-wingers and their stunted belief systems is the long game. They are the reason we got here. Constantly vilifying them won’t bring them any closer. Both sides have become set. Is there common ground anymore?

  2. Hey Jeff, I wrote this post because I’m a worrier. I’ve been so focused on “He’s going down” that I’ve barely stopped to think about, “What if he isn’t? What if he gets away with this shit?” He might. After all, he won the election! I’m just suggesting we should have a Plan B, and a Plan C, and a Plan D, just in case. (Obviously, one plan is to register new voters and challenge republicans at every level, from school district to Congress.) Hope you are well!

  3. Bill Haydon says:

    You left out his biggest betrayal of all. He lured millions of voters in Great Lakes swing states who had voted for Obama to switch to him based on the trade issue, and he has completely turned his back on them. China won’t be named a currency manipulator (they are). There won’t be a tariff on Chinese goods (a stupid idea), and there won’t be an outsourcing tax on US corporations ( a good idea). He’s not going to pull out of NAFTA. Trade is what put Trump in the White House, not the wall or the Muslim ban or sexism against Hillary or Russian interference.

    Unfortunately, this gives the Democrats zero incentive to fundamentally change and adopt progressive economic policies. Instead, they’ll coronate another centrist corporatist like Kaine or Booker or if her health allows the Queen of The Woods herself and just feel they can win by blanketing the Great Lakes with ads highlighting Trump’s betrayals on trade.

  4. Bill Haydon, two replies. One, I think the biggest question in American politics is, “When will his supporters realize what a phony he is.” There’s evidence it’s happening, but we can’t be sure–and my post was a warning that it may not happen soon enough to prevent him from serving out his term and getting re-elected. Second, I completely understand your concern about “another centrist corporatist.” Nearly everyone I know shares your concern. I don’t know the answer, but fortunately, we don’t have to have an answer right away. The 2020 election is 3-1/2 years away. We can figure it out later. In the meanwhile, we are mobilizing, organizing, resisting.

  5. Bill Haydon says:

    Steve, I feel that the fight going on within the Democratic Party has to be a necessary precursor to taking on the Republicans. Obama and Clintonist 3rd Way policies have left a Democratic Party in utter disarray and repudiated at ever level of government. And unless the Democrats can actually stand for something other than identity pandering and lesser evil economics, they’re going to continue to lose.

    Unfortunately, I think they are so utterly corrupted by corporate cash that they’re incapable of such a move. I said during the primaries that the Democratic establishment would rather lose with Hillary than win with Bernie because the former scenario keeps the spigots of Wall St cash flowing and the revolving door into lobbying jobs spinning.

    I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I’m utterly disgusted with the party including my corporate whore mayor (Rahm Emanuel) and Congressman (Mike Quigley) and quickly coming to the conclusion that the Democratic Party needs to burn to the ground in the hopes that something better might rise from the ashes.

  6. I know a lot of people who feel the same way.

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