The American people want their elected officials to work together for the good of the country. 77% of Americans think we can overcome our differences. Michelle Obama has famously said when they go low we go high. But will that idea work to get us back to a country where the elected officials can work together for the good of the country? Really? I don’t think so. At least, not right now and not for the near future as long as Mitch McConnell, Trump, Mark Meadows and his gang, Devin Nunes and others tribal Republicans are ascendant in Congress.
Because they play dirty and they are out to win at all costs. Truth be damned. Collaboration be damned.
Donald Trump plays by street fighter bar brawl rules. His rules go like this: insult and demean your opponent, kick them while they are down, never confess you are wrong, never ever apologize, mock and humiliate your opponent at every turn, make up lies that you say are true that are not true and repeat them over and over again. Then, when they fire back at you, turn their assault on you into an assault on them by calling it fake news or some other branding trick.
These are the new rules Trump has injected into our political landscape. He was not the first to play this way, but he has taken it to a new low level. And most Republicans are trying to be Trump mini-mes. They are using the same playbook.
How are you supposed to play nicely with people like that? Americans might want their elected Democratic officials to waltz together with the Republicans, but how do you dance with a partner who won’t dance with you and, worse, wants to knife you in the back if he can get close enough to kill you?
Trying to combat a dirty fighter by being a nice guy only works if you have leverage over that guy. How do you get leverage? There are some tools that can be used to create greater leverage: mockery and humor can be a weapon of sorts, truth can be a weapon, a convincing narrative goes a long way, but above all, the leverage comes from being more powerful.
Finding common ground with a sworn street fighting enemy only works if you have greater power, control, leverage, and authority. In short, the only way to manage Trump and the Republicans of today is to have power OVER them. If the House flips, Dems will have the power to subpoena and conduct investigations into Trump and the Trump administration’s extensive corruption, for example. Once in power, Dems should immediately call a vote on a bill to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation, for example. They should get Trump’s tax returns immediately and publish them to show the extent of his relationships with Russia and Saudi Arabia.
I expect that Trump has some really dirty tricks he will pull after the midterms. In fact if the Dems do not take the Senate, I think all hell’s going to break loose. I think he will summarily fire Sessions and Rosenstein and possibly also Mueller. The Senate Republicans (if they still have the majority in the Senate) will allow him to have a new AG (he already has a man picked out who is a loyalist, I understand), who will be part of his mafia gang and who will protect him and damage and destroy the Mueller investigation as well as bury the findings of that investigation to keep it from the public. I think we are going to see this all explode about 4 weeks from now just as Mueller’s report to Rosenstein is delivered. If the Dems have the power in the House there will be options to try to combat Trump. For example, if Mueller’s report gets buried by the new AG and the new AG limits or cripples the investigation, the House Intelligence Committee could decide to re-open their investigation. What if they hire Mueller to work with them as part of their investigative team? That way he could release the findings to the House Intelligence committee which would mean they would be released to the public. I’m not sure that is even possible. But with greater power Democrats can at least fight back in creative ways!
If the Dems gain power,they should also be very careful to be fair but not overly nice or compliant.
I struggle, for example, with the idea that if Democrats gain power in 2020 Democrats should insist on a totally fair un-gerrymandered map with no advantage for Democrats whatsoever. I want that to be the result, but I fear that could be naïve or stupid given the devious, take no prisoners nature of Republicans who are in Congress now.
On the other hand, if the Dems do gain power and do not try to return this country to a working democracy by attempting to collaborate with Republicans, we are going to be stuck in this impasse where nothing can get done in our country except by executive order and presidential fiat.
To my mind there is only one clear answer: we absolutely must get the power back if we ever hope to have a working democracy in this country again. First the House in 2018. (The Senate in 2018 may be too far a stretch this year because the map favors Republicans far more in 2018 than it does in 2020.) Then the Senate and presidency in 2020. Only then can we even try to waltz with any Republicans. Power provides the necessary leverage to force compromise. In other words, if Dems return to power, Republicans will HAVE to dance with us if they want to get anything done. That will re-establish a working Congressional system because Democrats do waltz well, very well, as long as they have a good partner to dance with.
Do you agree?
Let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org