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Impeachment: What will happen

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Democrats are waiting for some kind of surprise happy ending to the Senate Impeachment trial. Maybe Bolton will sit down and testify: “Yes, there was a quid pro quo.” Maybe Mulvaney will swear to tell the truth and then say, “The president lied. Everybody was in the loop.” Maybe Giuliani, under subpoena, and facing multiple indictments, will strike a plea deal. “Trump made me blackmail Zelensky. And he wants to build a Trump Tower in Kiev.”

And maybe the moon is made of green cheese.

Alas, there will be no last minute denouements. No breaking news, no dramatic “other shoes” dropping. This dreary little script has been written for months: the House impeaches, the Senate—dominated by Cult of Trump devotees—acquits. Trump screams VINDICATION; his wild-eyed acolytes have torchlight parades and yell KILL DEMOCRATS as they rally in their MAGA hats and Trump2020 buttons.

At least, that’s how it looks from where I sit. The only question remains, What will the voters decide in 2020? It all comes down, apparently, to about 80,000 votes, scattered in a swathe of Midwest land from rural western Pennsylvania through Ohio into Michigan and Wisconsin. Republicans know they’re going to lose the popular vote—again. They know that coastal states, including Virginia and, likely, North Carolina, are lost to them. But they don’t care. They’re organizing in the Midwest, in two ways: registering new voters, mainly Christians whom they’re scaring the shit out of by telling them a Democratic president will force them to be atheists and make their grandchildren gay, and by suppressing existing voters, especially voters of color, in states like Georgia and Kentucky.

And it just might work. If you keep a finger in the wind from day to day, as I do, you become acutely sensitive to the slightest shifts in public opinion concerning the upcoming election. One day, Democrats are surging; the next, Republicans. Lately, if I read the tea leaves correctly, the conventional wisdom has swung back to a Trump victory. The Mueller Report landed with a great big THUD (although it should have set everyone’s hair on fire). Impeachment seems like a new NBC sitcom that hasn’t gotten traction yet (although it still could). Trump is proving, once again, to be a dirty, below-the-belt but marvelously effective fighter, while his Republican stooges, abandoning all pretense of standing for justice and law, stand shoulder to shoulder with him; this Republican Party really does deserve credit for solidarity. Never mind that History will be unkind to them; they don’t care. History is fungible: people still quarrel over the French Revolution, American southerners still insist they didn’t lose the Civil War, some Germans still year for a resurgence, and the civil rights of homosexuals in this country are still perilously vulnerable. Republicans know that History is never finished, but is constantly being rewritten.

One wonders if these Republican officials—the Scalises, Sensenbrenners, Jordans, Lindsay Grahams, Cornyns, Cruzes and their like—have private conversations with their best friends and family members:

Old friend to John Cornyn: “Jonnie, why do you stand by this guy, Trump? You know he’s a creep.”

Cornyn: “Yeah, but look at the judges he’s appointing!”

Old friend: “Yeah, but Pence would do the same thing. And at least Pence is a real Christian! Trump is, you know, he screws around with other women, and doesn’t pay his bills—he’s the kind of deadbeat we Republicans have spent our lives denouncing.”

Cornyn: “I can’t deny that. But I can’t go against him. I’d get my ass primaried.”

I hope they have these conversations, but that presumes that the families and friends of extreme rightwing Republicans still are capable of rational thought—of moral commitment—of patriotism—of respect for the Constitution. This presumption, though, may be inaccurate. It may be that mental illness has completely swept through Republican America, an epidemic, like AIDS, that strikes at—not the body, but the mind, and not just the mind, but the soul.

One thing is certain: Trump began as a minority president, he remains a minority president. That means (and Trump can’t stand to admit it) that most Americans really dislike Trump. They don’t dislike him the way, say, some Democrats disliked George W. Bush. Democrats did, but they still admitted that W. seemed to be a pretty nice guy whom they wouldn’t mind having a beer with (notwithstanding the fact that W. doesn’t drink).

No, most Americans loathe Trump, are shocked and embarrassed by him, and see him as the threat he actually is. They perceive the disease that permeates his brain. They know who and what he is, because he doesn’t try to hide it. Most sociopaths paper over their sickness with charm and smiles. Trump doesn’t even have that skill. I’ve long said that the best way to beat Trump in an election is to remind the people what they already know about him: that he’s mentally and morally depraved. The Democrats who took the “Can’t we all just get along” route were playing a losing hand. I like what Biden’s been doing lately: calling Trump a “narcissist” and attacking him personally. That’s the winning ticket.

By the way, yesterday’s Supreme Court decision (or lack of one) on homeless camps is bad news for cities, like Oakland, that are trying to clean up the filthy encampments. Apparently the Supreme Court is saying cities can’t roust campers without offering them someplace else to live. That is clearly impossible: Oakland has 4,000 homeless people (Los Angeles has tens of thousands), so in order to shelter them all—permanently?—taxes would have to be raised inordinately, and people will not stand for that. SCOTUS has weighed in very stupidly on this one: they should respect the rights of local municipalities to govern themselves.

  1. Jeff Knight says:

    Hi Steve. I agree with your Trump analysis but homelessness, not so much. Exacting fines and possible incarceration, impounding cars where people sleep, “cleaning up” homeless camps by putting people’s survival tools in dumpsters, etc. does seem cruel and unusual to me. I have walked through a couple of sidewalk camps and I would agree the conditions are terrible. Sanitation is nonexistent in most cases and a good place to start with solutions. Portable trailer restrooms and showers could be provided so people have a chance at some dignity. Bring the food. The amount of food waste in America is crazy. Why not feed people who need it.

    Of course, the larger issues are still there. Corporations, stock holders, money managers, developers, and health care systems continue to enrich themselves leaving more and more people vulnerable to joining this outcast population. Market housing and rent inflation, Air B&B, low paying jobs, displaced workers living 80 miles away from their jobs, all contribute. Then there are the disabled and mentally ill. It all need a lot of thought and work.

  2. ” by suppressing existing voters, especially voters of color, in states like Georgia and Kentucky.”
    Don’t forget Wisconsin, which is in the process of culling 200,000 voters from the rolls.

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