July 4, 2017
A few days ago I had the opportunity to sit down with a US Senator and hear her thoughts about what is going on behind the scenes in congress. Her insights were somewhat comforting so I want to pass them along.
She sees Republican congressional support for Trump falling away. Although Republicans will not openly condemn Trump, most think he is a nut job and an embarrassment, a detriment for them personally. In addition, they think he is not worth listening to and they ignore his ideas. (Notice how Trump’s idea of repeal now and replace later has gotten no traction whatsoever.) They now understand that he has no interest or understanding of the workings of government or the content of, say, the health care bill. He gets his information from cable news and always will. He tweets and always will. He is an unreliable ally and always will be.
Congressional Republicans are not vocal about their rejection of Trump, but they are no longer vocal about their support for him either. They understand now that he is imperiling their agenda and possibly their chance to get re-elected. The Republican agenda is to get more tax breaks for the rich, repeal ACA because they said they would and get more right-wing justices on the Supreme Court. If they can accomplish these goals, she thinks many Republicans would be willing to throw him under the bus (my words, not hers).
I asked her – how would that happen. She thinks the Russia investigation is going to be the key. She believes that even Senator Grassley is serious about the investigation and that other Republicans have a secret wish, you might say, that the investigation reveal enough to allow them to get Trump out.
Her view from the backstage of congress aligns with comments I have heard in my one on one conversations with other Democratic representatives and senators. They are careful to couch their assessments in measured words and tones. But the reassuring information I have gleaned from these conversations is that most Republicans are in fact disgusted by Trump and “if you think Democrats in congress are upset by Trump imagine how upset Republicans are that they have to work with him.” (Direct quote.) That was reassuring to hear. They are all upset too. Good news!
I asked – why don’t they speak out? Her response was that you will not hear them speak out against Trump because they are Republicans (their tribal affiliation will not allow it). They are all going to say everything is fine here, we are all happy here, but you will not hear them applaud him either. Watch and listen, she said, for what they are silent about when you would expect them to be cheering. The health care bill comes to mind.
I also had the opportunity to hear Don Haider, professor emeritus at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business and a Republican, talk about his study of presidencies that fail. According to Haider, using a number of key data points, you can predict a failed presidency in the first few months. It was his assessment that the Trump presidency is even now a failed presidency. The failure is the direct result of the man who sits in the Oval Office. There is a failure of leadership here that is profound. Haider, a Republican, did not mince his words. This administration will not get much done. They might undo things that were set up before, but they will not get much accomplished.
Finally, if you marry these insights with the fact that the intelligence community and our generals are smart people who already know how inept and naive Trump is, (and are afraid of that ineptitude) you have the roadmap for the way this administration could go.
I think there are three possible scenarios. 1) We may be in for four years of infantile tweeting and ineptitude coupled with meanness and cruelty to minorities to gin up the base. This will be coupled with push back against Trump’s power by the Senate, by governors, the judiciary and other groups. 2) We may be in for a coup if Mueller finds evidence of collusion because almost everyone in the whole world despises Trump including the Republicans in congress. (Yeah, I know his base loves him. But when Nixon left office after having the visit from key Republicans who told him his time was up, he had a loyal base too. That was irrelevant when 60% or more want you gone.) 3) And the third possibility is that Trump crumples physically because he is unable to take the heat of being president given his many serious psychological impairments and venomous hatreds that are churning in him and tormenting him.
It is almost the 4th of July which makes you think about our founding fathers.
The founding fathers did a remarkably good job figuring out how checks and balances and the three pillars of government would work. But since this is a participatory democracy, we the people have to keep pushing back. Keep calling up your representatives to fight bad ideas. They are actually affected by that. Keep supporting our elected officials who are standing up for our progressive ideals. They need to hear from us too. Support journalists and attorneys who are on the front lines. Watch CNN, MSNBC, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver and keep laughing at Trump because it makes him angry and upset which gets us closer to his first heart attack. And above all, keep the faith that we will come out of this time in better shape because we will never ever be complacent about our democracy again.
Happy Fourth of July.