It is my sincere hope that you’re having a good day, or at least are looking forward to doing something nice today, since I’m about to become thoroughly Debbie Downer on y’all. Short version: Settle in, because this administration isn’t dead, yet, and won’t be for a long time, but don’t give up the fight!
Since he announced his candidacy, the Trump-as-politician story has never lacked for something outrageous, often multiple things each week—or even each day. Just when it seems like we’ve reached outrage fatigue, he ups the ante. Some probably have already gone into a complacent state of new normal, but many of us are still paying attention. We wake up, check the news to see what terrible thing he’s done today, and then spend the rest of the day stumbling around in numb horror, a vague sense of queasiness coloring everything we do. It should be no surprise that we’re all eager to believe any hint that somehow, there’s been a break: something has been discovered that will finally, this time, get him out.
Folks, don’t hold your breath.
Trump’s not going anywhere voluntarily.
He is a horrid human being. This is his nature, and it always has been. He’s a self-obsessed, domineering, demigod wannabe who has spent his entire life trying to amass wealth and power—exaggerating the amount he has—to make up for the fact that he’s singularly inept at actually doing or being anything of value. The responsibilities of this job that he took on a whim of ego aren’t going to burden him so much that he takes his toys and goes home without a fight. This is not a man who will risk being seen as weak by quitting. He’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the Oval Office to get him out of there.
The people who have the power to remove him aren’t going to do so.
Impeachment is essentially a trial for crimes committed by holders of government office. Rather than using the regular justice system, however, it requires Congress. It starts in the House for the indictment phase and then moves on to the Senate for the trial. Upon finding that the crime has been committed, the Senate can then remove the offender from office. With majorities in both the House and Senate, this would be up to the GOP to do. And are they going to do it? Oh, goodness, no.
While it’s been delightful to watch so many of these cowards get roasted at their town halls, there’s little chance of this paying off. Many of them are equally as awful as Trump and therefore happy to support him. But even the ones who have doubts aren’t going to go there. In order for a GOP politician to keep their job, they first must pass a primary. Given that the Trump cult is a large bloc and shows no signs of abandoning their idol, that means that any GOP politician who wants to survive their next primary cannot risk pissing those people off. Trump has to be considered hands-off, or they’re out of a job before they even get to the general. Now, would they lose in the general? Possible, for some cases. But in the cases of gerrymandered seats or ones in already heavily Trump-favoring places, that’s still unlikely, especially with voter-suppression laws becoming the new red-state fashion. Think of Kansas, which has persisted in electing Republicans even as their economic policies are rapidly destroying the state’s infrastructure. There remain a few swing districts that could possibly turn in 2018, WA-08, for instance, but for the most part, getting these jackasses out of office is nearly as impossible as doing the same for Trump. As long as they have Trump culties in their pockets, they’re not going to worry too much about getting a ton of angry postcards from everyone else.
Even if he did get kicked out, he’s not the only problem.
OK, so Trump goes. Who’s next? Pence. OK, so he goes down with the ship. Who’s next? Ryan. OK, maybe he goes down, too (we should be so lucky!) Who’s next? Orrin Hatch. As a more old-school right-wing shitweasel, he would be somewhat less horrid than those three, but he’s still awful enough that he’s not exactly going to improve things much. Moreover, he’s likely to pardon all three of the others and anyone else who’s tangled up in this, leaving them with no jail time no matter what they’ve done.
Whatever happens to this administration, we’re still stuck with GOP majorities in the Senate until at least 2018, and the House for probably many years after that. And the same problems that screwed us out of the electoral college in 2016 are still going to be there in 2020. The white dudes of the alt-left are still going to throw in with whatever fringe candidate promises them a bloody, anti-establishment revolution (in which only other people will die, of course.) The racists on the right aren’t going to stop being racist, and they’ve been so emboldened by this president that they’ve now become more organized and active. Voter suppression is going to be even worse this time, and it won’t matter who the Democrats put up: They’re going to have a major uphill battle against election tampering and propaganda/smear efforts. It’s true that Hillary brought enough of her own baggage that it was easier for those smear campaigns to have an effect, but the same thing is going to happen to anyone else who runs. The alt-left has decided everyone who’s an actual Democrat or endorsed Hillary in the general is a traitor; they’re not coming back on board. And they’re also going to gleefully participate in any chance to drag moderates away, too. The names being floated around at this stage—Booker, Franken, Warren, among others—are going to be hard-pressed not to find themselves being dragged under by the combination of rabid revolutionaries from both the left and right. A single bone in those closets is going to be spun into a skull avalanche before they’ve even had the first primary. If there’s a massive groundswell of support, it’s possible to override these things, but it’s going to be a squeaker even if we get there.
And it won’t end after 2020, either.
One of the news items that slipped by in the shit tsunami of the past week or so was the fact that the Census is now being attacked. This has the potential to be a bigger catastrophe than almost anything else save North Korea nuking Hawai’i. See, the every-ten-years Census count is how Congressional districts get apportioned. As I noted in a post a while back, it’s already an imperfect system due to greater mobility—state populations can change drastically even just a few years after a count—but the chance of seeing undercounting in blue states and overcounting in red ones is pretty darn high if the Census org itself has become compromised. On top of that, there’s probably going to be even more gerrymandering during the next redistricting.
Lastly, SCOTUS, already on a knife’s edge, stands to get loaded up with even more right wingers within the next few years, as we have two very elderly folks on the left side of the bench. We already have a 5-4 conservative majority, now that Gorsuch has been confirmed. With a GOP POTUS nominating and GOP Senate confirming, we’re not going to get anyone decent again for a while. Roberts may yet surprise us by not being as much of a soulless wretch as his fellows on the right, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Well, crap. Why should we even bother, then?
Yes, this is all doom and gloom. But I say it only to temper expectations and get people to pace themselves, rather than blowing all their energy trying to make something happen in the short term, which is exceedingly unlikely to bear fruit. I also want people to focus that energy into the places where it’s likely to do the most good. To wit:
Get as many GOP Congressfolk out of office as possible.
Find the swing districts. Send wads of cash to the Democrat. In districts that allow for special elections or appointment by a Democrat governor, try to get them out NOW. Journalists, start your engines: We need you to go dig up as much dirt as you can on the miscreant office-holders in your states and hang them out to dry. Getting a few of them tossed in jail would be even better. Trump may have some immunity—they don’t. And keep up those town halls and letter-writing campaigns, too. They work—really! Your job is to make these creeps more afraid of you than they are of Trump stans.
Get out the damned vote.
Though it’s unlikely it would have changed anything on the national level this time, better turnout in every election right on down to school board will help us more than anything else. Register people. Offer to take them to the DMV if they need to get ID. Get them to the polls or make sure they know how to apply for absentee ballots. Give your apathy-as-activism slacker cousin a swift kick in the ass (literally, if needed) and tell them to put down the damned bong and cast a ballot. Every election. Every time. All of it matters.
Support efforts to take down the Trump admin via outside-of-Congress paths.
We know he’s not going to get impeached, but we also know he’s a damned criminal, and since he has such a long history of that, virtually any locality where he’s done business can probably find something to get him on. Presidential immunity will keep him safe from much of this stuff, but the more we tangle him up in actual criminal trials, the more he’s going to seem weak, and will start to get abandoned by his culties. Remember: They follow him because they see him as a solid-steel manly man who crushes his enemies. Part of the reason he won’t release his taxes isn’t because they’d show shady dealings—that’s virtually a given at this point—but rather because they’re likely to show that he isn’t nearly as wealthy as he claims to be. Anyone who puts on as much of a show of wealth as he does is trying to get people to think he’s the richest man on Earth. He definitely is not, however. Given how he’s on the outs with every major domestic bank, he’s been searching for funding overseas–and seems to have found it in Russia. But because he’s so utterly incompetent at running his businesses, he’s probably in debt with them up to his sewn-on Barbie hair, and thus pretty darn close to broke in terms of net worth. Remember how many bankruptcies he’s had, and how much he’s had to pay out in settlements and alimony? Dude is one bad deal away from losing it all. Running for prez was probably his last-ditch effort to avoid the Russians sending someone over to remove a finger or three. If any of this stuff were to be confirmed, it would be revealing the naked emperor, and he can’t have that. Sure, some people would ignore it anyway. They’re invested enough in their cult leader that they’ll ignore any reality that says he’s anything less than godlike. But the ones who aren’t in quite so deep will start abandoning him.
Because of that, that’s exactly what we need to have happen. The weaker he appears, the more people will turn their backs on him, thus freeing up some of the GOPers who have at least a vertebra or two left in their spines to finally do something about him. Once his approval rating is down below about 25%—perhaps more for swing districts—the cowards will start doing their damned jobs.
The foundation of resistance is defiant existence.
This is probably going to get worse before it gets better. A lot of bad shit is going to keep happening. Innocent people are going to be arrested, deported, even killed, either by uniformed goons or violent bigots. Millions of people are likely to lose access to critical services. Our schools are going to take a brutal hit. Places prone to natural disasters, especially if they’re in blue states, are going to be hard-pressed to get any federal help.
Get an emergency kit together. Make sure you have some savings. Build support networks, and rid yourself of people who refuse to have compassion for others. If you have money, give some to places and people doing important work. If you have time, volunteer or fundraise for them. Support your local schools, shelters, libraries, legal-aid groups, etc. Look out for the people around you, especially if they’re in a group that’s more likely than you are to be singled out for attack. White folks, stand up for people of color. Cishet folks, stand up for queer and Trans people. People with robust health, keep an eye on your friends who have disabilities or illnesses. (As always, don’t be paternalistic with this, just make sure folks know you’re available to back them up when needed.)
In all this, don’t forget yourself, either. There is no doubt that many more of us will not survive this, but those of us who do will need the bones of a better world to climb on when it’s possible. Parents, keep teaching your children to be kind, generous and thoughtful. Artists, keep doing your work—we need what you do in these crushing times. Keep taking breaks when you need them. Stay hydrated. Eat. Sleep. Get as much health care as you can afford. Enjoy the good times that happen. Smiling at a party doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten the rest of the world is falling apart. Take some time to look out at the stars and realize there is a whole universe beyond what we’re facing right now. We may yet be reduced to glowing ash, but if this disaster stops short of that, the world will go on. If there’s a chance you’ll be there at that dawn, make sure you’re ready to enjoy every minute of it.