At the start of Trump’s presidency, I predicted he would be gone in nine months, because he is such a defective individual. I was certainly vindicated on the latter score, more than anybody knew, as he would say. Now it’s time to predict his removal from the White House in calendar 2019. Like all wild predictions, you will only remember this if it proves correct.
The key ingredients of his impending, ignominious descent are as follows.
The Resistance grows. With every passing day, Trump commits another disgusting or patently stupid act of one type or another. A gross tweet, consigning another innocent group to the threat of deportation, the death of an innocent immigrant, and so on. An endless series of straws for the beleaguered camel’s back. This stimulates erosion of electoral independents and threatens incumbent Republican senators, about which more below.
The Left grows, and drags more Democrats along with it. Instead of lame appeals to moderation and bleating about polarization or fairness, the message transforms into the giant Fuck You that the Administration so richly deserves. One constructive component is the advance of bold policy proposals – abolish ICE, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal – that provide political ballast to the critique.
With enemies like this, the president badly needs friends. But Trump has exhausted his usefulness to his assortment of allies.
One crucial ally was the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which Trump has destroyed. In its place we will have a fusillade of subpoenas from the Democrats. Once they have been fortified by the Mueller report and ensuing indictments, there will be a successful vote to impeach. Worsening legal troubles will exacerbate the frenzy of his tweets, leading to further alienation of rational persons.
The Senate remains on his side, but cracks are beginning to show. Until now Trump could guarantee primary losses to any senator who defied him, but his removal next year will leave time for potentially endangered politicians to mend their fences by 2020. Moreover, Trump will not be well situated, nor probably personally committed, to wreaking vengeance on his enemies. He will have bigger worries, and we know he’s not much of a worker to begin with.
One crack is the recent repudiation of Trump’s love affair with the homicidal Prince MBS (no relation) of Saudi Arabia, in the form of a bipartisan rejection of support for the genocide in Yemen. Another is the manifest lack of enthusiasm on the Right for the Wall, as far as funding goes, something Republican majorities in both the House and Senate were not inclined to deliver. Another is admittedly faint signs of opposition to a few judicial nominations.
As far as policy goes, Trump has already delivered the tax cut, a raft of Heritage Foundation-approved Federal judges with lifetime appointments, and an enduring Supreme Court majority. In other words, he’s shot his wad. There isn’t much love for his further commitments, such as the trade war or infrastructure.
The greatest concern of incumbents, of course, is reelection. While the bias of the Senate is conservative and rural, the “map” – the array of seats that will be contested in 2020 – is unfavorable to the GOP. Red states are bleeding and turning less red. I would not expect a vote to remove Trump in the Senate, but the reality that such a vote is in play will encourage Trump to leave.
Trump’s friends in Russia have little further use for him. He has already done what he could to advance their strategic goals, which included Brexit chaos in Great Britain, promotion of alt-right politicians across Europe, increased aggression towards Ukraine, and the downgrade of NATO. There could also be favors for Russia from China, in exchange for eliminating disruption of their economy by Trump’s clumsy trade war tactics.
Once an asset has been fully exploited, the logical step is to discard it for its scrap value. That means releasing information that further imperils Trump and foments turmoil in the U.S. It means we will see the Pee Tape, which was too crazy not to be real, and related material.
The combined impacts of Mueller disclosures, indictments, House subpoena gold, and Russian machinations will cause Trump’s political standing to crater. Fears of legal assault will lead to his willingness to make a deal with prosecutors – resignation in return for some measure of legal immunity. In other words, he will be run out of office.
He will explain that the fundamental unfairness of the legal assaults is a distraction from the needs of the Nation, so for the sake of the country he will leave the Administration in the capable hands of Mike Pence, who has done an incredible job.
Pence is a lackluster politician, never especially loved in his own home state of Indiana. His intelligence has never been overestimated. The fall of Trump will provoke hysterical intra-Republican infighting, including demonstrations of nakedly neo-fascist components that further discredit the GOP. A Pence Administration will be a weak, lame-duck affair, not something to be feared. It’s hard to see Pence essaying brinkmanship in dealing with the House Democrats.
Incidentally, one lever that Mueller and company have over the Republican Senate is possible charges against Pence. Removal of both Trump and Pence puts the Speaker of the House next in the line of succession. If anything could get the Republican Senate to impeach, it would be the specter of President Nancy Pelosi.
The economic trends will not be helpful either. Presently the economy is in passable shape. The stock market ought to recover for a while, but in the longer term, say twelve months or more, a market drop and recession are quite likely.
So Trump is toast. Lame attempts to corral Democrats into some kind of alliance with neo-con #NeverTrumpers in the form of the #NoLabels fiasco or the absurd suggestion of a Biden/Romney “unity ticket” in 2020 crumble at the touch. The future is Blue. How much so is the only question.