Everyone—including his supporters—is worried that Trump isn’t ready for prime time. He’s personally vulgar. He’s uninformed and incurious. By his own admission he’s a bigot and a sexual predator. He’s an unscrupulous con-artist in business. He’s a pathological liar. And he’s an insecure narcissist who covers his insecurities with bullying and schoolyard taunts. (No, you’re a puppet,) He’s surrounded himself with toadies and he’ll be surrounded by manipulators who will fill the voids in his knowledge with plans for their own agenda and get him to agree by flattering him.
And that’s the good news.
No, the problem facing America is not Trump, it’s the Republican plan to end freedom and democracy as we know it.
Did I overstate my case? Just listen.
When Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House in the Contract with America election that changed the leadership of that body from the Democratic Party for the first time in forty years, he talked about “a permanent Republican majority.” That’s a polite expression, but doesn’t it just mean a coup? After all, what is a coup but a permanent “majority”? There are few dictators around the world who don’t have a yes-men congress of some sort to “ratify” their decrees. And didn’t the Soviet Union have regular elections? Of course they did, and you could vote for anyone you wanted—as long as he was a member of the Communist Party, the only party on the ballot.
Paul Ryan may not be saying it; he’s a much cagier politician than bombastic Newt. But he’s thinking it. His state’s governor has made every effort to pull off that trick in Wisconsin and while Republicans say voter fraud what they mean is suppress Democratic voters. With a new Supreme Court justice to fill in for the partisan Antonin Scalia, voter suppression efforts will be widely legalized. Unions will be broken and the political power that went with them. The Internet will be privatized and free speech curbed—or drowned out by better-paying speakers like right wing think tanks. The gerrymander will stand or even be extended. Public demonstrations will be met with violence by police—the only unionized workers left—who will be politically empowered and legally immunized to do their worst. Or what they call their duty. (Student protests in the sixties were peaceful affairs until the police stormed a building the students were occupying at the University of Wisconsin and assaulted and injured students with their clubs. The chief of police commented, “You have to go in there and break a few kneecaps so they won’t do it again.” The demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 resulted in hundred of arrests—which were thrown out when the court judged the violence was caused by a “police riot.”) This is what candidtates—always Republicans—mean when they say “law and order.”
Normally the party in power loses seats in off-year elections, but this seems unlikely with a lot of Democratic senators in red states up for re-election and the House so thoroughly gerrymandered.
So expect the Republicans to gain seats in two years. And Ruth Bader-Ginsberg can’t live forever. Normally a party with all that power oversteps the bounds of what the electorate can stand and gets voted out of office. Or it manipulates the electorate through the media and the economy the electorate can’t see any other option. A recession would do this, if it can be blamed on the Democrats or foreigners. The easiest way to do this is to enact the tariffs Trump promised. Cheap goods, the salvation of a middle class who has seen its income shrink over the last thirty years, would disappear. Still the jobs would not return since Americans can’t live on the dollar a day wages of Mexican workers. (Neither can the Mexicans.) Blame NAFTA. Arrest Hilary Clinton. Vote Republican!
This is what it must have been like to be living in Germany in the late twenties. That couldn’t happen here, you say? Isn’t that what everybody said about “President Trump”?