A Message To Patriotic Republicans
Don’t laugh. There’s lots of them.
First of all, congratulations. You played this election about as well as you could. To keep Congressional control you needed to manage a very challenging balancing act between independence, party loyalty and basic human decency. You did it. The question is what comes next?
Most of you realize Donald Trump is not fit to lead. If you had your doubts, or were hoping for a more traditional Republican president…after this first week now you know.
You’re past the denial phase. You love this country and recognize the legitimate risks a President Trump poses to our future. But you agree with him on some stuff, right? Gut Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Whether or not you truly oppose them, you need to move on those (maybe like a bitch?) or risk a primary challenge in 2018.
There’s more of course. Tilting the scale against environmental protections and towards business. Tax cuts for individuals and corporations. Getting a playmate for Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. This is your chance, and if you’ve seen Hamilton you’re not throwing away your shot. Elections have consequences, and you know how quickly these moments can fade, so these first 100 days will be an Ayn Rand masterpiece.
We can see what you're thinking now. The calculus in your brain is as transparent as it is obvious (and understandable).
You believe you can pass legislation you've had on the to do list for years, and then get rid of him. Whether it’s the Russia stuff, or his taxes when they finally come out, or through some actions he does as President that cross whatever line still exists, you figure there’ll be a way. You’ll have thankful Democrats begging to go along with you too, and willing to offer concessions on key issues to get him out.
This is bargaining 101. You think you’re the dog and he’s the tail. While it’s true no one else has managed to control the wagging, you’re Congress! There’s 300 Republicans in the House and Senate who know how to wield real power. Acting together that’s more than enough political skill to wrest control from the executive branch when you put your mind to it. First you get the laws you want, then accolades of putting country over party after jettisoning the fall guy.
It’s the perfect plan.
But here’s the thing, and there’s really no getting around this: You’re repeating the exact same mistakes others have already made. The “serious” primary candidates wanted to use Trump’s bombast to eliminate their real rivals, go 1:1 with him and coast to the nomination, and they all drowned under his ocean of free airtime. By the time the herd thinned, the people had either made up their mind or were so sick of the whole thing they were ready to move on.
Democrats made the same mistake, including this writer. We WANTED him as your nominee because he’d be so easy to stop, but no matter how hard we tried the entire election got dragged down into the gutter where’s he’s at home and virtually unbeatable.
For all of his faults - and the internet doesn't have enough storage to list them all - Trump and the leaders in his administration are masters at controlling the narrative and field of play. They draw the lines where they’re most comfortable and make you go there to compete. Against Democrats, this was creating so many issues we were never able to concentrate on one, and it all became white noise.
So if you wait too long, he'll be able to defend himself against you. How? I don’t know, but it’ll likely involve mutually assured destruction. Maybe he’ll focus on how many of you supported his plans up to that point. Even if most of them were really your plans he took credit for, it won’t matter to the voters. It’ll just look like a pissing contest where nobody wins, and that leads to maintaining the status quo.
It could involve actual destruction, because everybody can see he dreams of being a wartime president. Can you imagine the counterattack if you even suggest impeachment during a military action? It doesn’t matter how popular or unpopular it is, the pushback will be overwhelming. You’ll be accused of treason, all but guaranteeing your effort will fail and you'll get a primary opponent (probably a veteran) for your troubles.
To some extent, the specifics are irrelevant. The important point is this: it will be chaos. And only one person in Washington thrives in chaos, and that’s Donald Trump. You can’t beat him in the swamp. He can only be defeated on the surface for all to see.
Right now Democrats know they’re on a losing battle policy-wise and also see the threat to world stability Trump is, so they'd be with you. If they could cut a deal to accept a couple issues they really don’t like (for example: Keystone and a conservative Supreme Court justice) to get rid of Trump with you, most will likely take that in a heartbeat. But that's if you act now, while the threat of conservative legislation is more menacing than ACTUAL legislation being passed.
Fast forward 15 months and survey the landscape. Trump is likely very unpopular and an albatross around your neck. Some of your new policies aren’t resonating with the American public the way they dominate in a GOP debate. Whether those policies are unpopular because of Trump or the other way around doesn’t matter, your name is on them too and you’ll all be on the same sinking ship together.
At this stage you throw an impeachment hail mary, but you’re now chained to his hip in a way that’s never going away. You're facing a primary opponent from the Trump diehards, and an emboldened Democratic candidate with a highly motivated electorate and war chest ready to jump on your divided party.
I suspect you realize this, and are right now weighing the pros and cons of every reasonable time frame to act (or to not act at all). There’s one scenario you likely haven’t considered: Democrats blocking you from getting rid of him. And this is why you need to move now.
At that stage, in spring 2018 with a historically corrupt and unpopular President, with tens of millions of reluctant Trump voters wishing they had a do over, doesn’t it make sense for Democrats to put up with Trump through November? Now you’re in the worst situation, with a bad electoral mood directed at you and your party, and no option to make a grand gesture for the republic that will buy you back some goodwill.
This could happen. The way to avoid it is clear: Get rid of him now. Push the Russia connection like it's the email server issue on steroids...which has the luxury of being true. Claim you wish these truths had come to light last fall (sure), and say proudly “For the good of the Republic this man cannot sit in the White House.”
It’s a win-win. You have a more traditional Republican president to work with, and probably get Democratic cover on a few issues important to your base. You have time to prepare for the 2018 elections with at least some anger faded from the storm.
Most importantly, the country is free of an unpredictable, small-minded wannabe strongman and you can sleep at night.