Is the Republican Dam Breaking?

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump attends a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland/Juhani Kandell)
  • Liz Cheney, the number-three Republican in the House of Representatives, will vote to impeach Donald Trump for inciting an attack on the United States Capitol and attempting to overturn the election of Joe Biden.
  • So will Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran; and Peter Meijer and Fred Upton of Michigan.
  • Charlie Baker, Larry Hogan and Phil Scott, the Republican governors of Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont, support impeachment.
  • So does Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. Read more “Is the Republican Dam Breaking?”

Cabinet Coup Would Give Trump His Own Dolchstoßlegende

German cartoon
1924 political cartoon shows the leaders of Weimar Germany stabbing soldiers in the back

Democrats in the United States are urging Vice President Mike Pence and members of the cabinet to remove Donald Trump from power under the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

That could be a mistake.

It would be constitutionally dubious. The Twenty-fifth Amendment allows a majority of the cabinet to replace a president who has become incapacitated. It wasn’t designed to topple a president who is still technically able to carry out his duties.

It can be argued Trump has proved himself “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” by inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election. But I can think of a dozen more examples of Trump’s behavior from the last year alone that proved his unfitness for office.

More worrisome than potentially setting a bad precedent is that a cabinet coup would add fuel to the fire of the stab-in-the-back myth Trump and his supporters are already writing. It could give the outgoing president just the pretext he needs to lead an insurgency against the next government of the United States. Read more “Cabinet Coup Would Give Trump His Own Dolchstoßlegende”

Trump’s Desperation and Republicans’ Shame

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

Donald Trump’s attempt to cling to power has been going no better since we last checked in. He is trying to steal the election, as I expected he would, but there are still officials, including Republicans, who care more about doing the right thing than humoring the president.

  • Election officials in all states counted all the votes, despite cries from Trump and his supporters to stop the count in states where he was ahead before mailed-in ballots could be counted.
  • Secretaries of state and governors, regardless of party, certified the results in all states, despite appeals from Trump and his supporters to overturn the popular will where the outcome was close and appoint electors for the president, rather than Joe Biden.
  • 86 judges of both parties threw out lawsuits brought by Trump and Republicans to discard postal ballots or otherwise invalidate the election results.
  • All nine justices of the Supreme Court, including the three appointed by Trump, refused to even hear a lawsuit brought by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton to overturn the election in four other states.
  • The Electoral College met in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. There were no faithless electors. Republican activists claiming to be electors in Michigan were barred from the state capitol, where the actual electors cast their votes for Biden.

Trump’s last (legal) opportunity to remain in power will be on January 6, when Vice President Mike Pence reads out the Electoral College votes in Congress. But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has already called on his members not to raise objections on that day. Read more “Trump’s Desperation and Republicans’ Shame”

Don’t Count on Republicans to Suddenly See the Light

United States Capitol
The sun rises on the United States Capitol in Washington DC (Shutterstock/Itzá Villavicencio Urbieta)

American centrists are optimistic. With Republicans likely to retain control of the Senate for at least the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency — unless Democrats manage to flip not one, but two Georgia Senate seats in January — a new era of bipartisanship may be on the horizon.

Joe Manchin, the conservative Democratic senator from West Virginia, tells The New York Times he sees a “golden opportunity to bring the country back together and for us to work in the middle.”

James M. Curry and Frances E. Lee of the moderate center-right Niskanen Center argue unified government is overrated. Most legislation is passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Scott Lincicome of the conservative anti-Trump website The Dispatch finds that the economy tends to perform better when the parties split Congress and the presidency. Fortune magazine agrees.

This is the triumph of hope over experience. Read more “Don’t Count on Republicans to Suddenly See the Light”

Biden Wins American Presidency, Trump Refuses to Concede

If Trump Is Trying to Steal the Election, It’s Not Working

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump boards Marine One outside the White House in Washington DC, July 31, 2020 (White House/Tia Dufour)

More than a month ago, I warned Donald Trump would try to steal the American election by depressing Democratic turnout, discounting postal ballots, changing the outcome in the Electoral College and possibly throwing the election to Congress.

Now that he has lost, and few elected Republicans are repeating his lie that Democrats stole the election, it seems that — hopefully for the last time — I overestimated Trump’s ability to put autocratic words into action. Read more “If Trump Is Trying to Steal the Election, It’s Not Working”

One Clear Verdict from 2020 is That Trumpism Is Here to Stay

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump arrives in Greenville, South Carolina, October 15 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Former vice president Joe Biden could still win America’s presidential election, but Donald Trump’s performance in the wake of a deadly pandemic, hugely negative polls and a mainstream media almost universally hostile to him shows that cultural and political elites in the United States keep getting things wrong. Read more “One Clear Verdict from 2020 is That Trumpism Is Here to Stay”

Close Election Result Won’t Convince Republicans to Change

Paul Ryan Mike Pence Donald Trump
Republican officials, including then-House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

My hope was that Republicans would lose Tuesday’s election decisively and decide they had no future as a far-right movement. (Donald Trump’s Republican Party has more in common with the European far right than with Britain’s Conservative Party or Germany’s Christian Democrats.)

That now seems unlikely.

Trump and Joe Biden could be neck and neck in the Electoral College. Not enough university-educated and suburban voters, who have been trending away from the Republican Party, supported Democrats in the Sun Belt to color Florida, Georgia and North Carolina blue. (Arizona could be the exception.)

White voters without a college degree in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may once again decide the outcome of the presidential election, validating the strategy of Trump and Trumpists, which is to appeal to working-class grievances. Read more “Close Election Result Won’t Convince Republicans to Change”

Trump Can’t Count on Another October Surprise

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump attends a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland/Juhani Kandell)

President Donald Trump’s (not so) shocking coronavirus diagnosis had all the markings of the fabled “October surprise” American election-watchers look for every four years.

In the world of geopolitical forecasting, you would call an October surprise a “Red Dragon”: something rare, highly impactful, yet to an extent foreseeable. This contrasts with a “Black Swan”, which comes out of nowhere.

Trump getting COVID was certainly a Red Dragon: wandering around campaign events without wearing a mask and taking only the barest precautions, it was more surprising that it took him so many months to contract the disease.

From the standpoint of who will win the election, the diagnosis seems to only have reinforced Joe Biden’s lead, not undercut it. Polls suggest Americans have little sympathy for the president, and his maskless bravado on Monday on the White House balcony surely won’t convince them that this is a man who takes the pandemic, and his own health, seriously.

Could another October surprise flip the script for Trump?

Probably not. Here’s why. Read more “Trump Can’t Count on Another October Surprise”

Republicans Live in an Alternate Reality

Donald Trump
Voters wait outside a convention center in Rochester, Minnesota, where American president Donald Trump is giving a speech, October 5, 2018 (Lorie Shaul)

Donald Trump and the Republicans have been in power for nearly four years, yet everything that’s wrong in America is somehow Joe Biden’s fault.

180,000 Americans have died of coronavirus, because Trump couldn’t be bothered to deal with the crisis. 10 percent of Americans are out of work, more than during the Great Recession.

Nobody mentioned either during the four days of the Republican National Convention.

Trump insisted Biden would be the “destroyer of America’s jobs.” Read more “Republicans Live in an Alternate Reality”