by Justin Rosario
Joy-Ann Reid floated an idea this past weekend after Republicans came one step closer to their dream of a $1.5 Trillion tax cut for the ultra wealthy: Now that Republicans are about to achieve their goal of paying back their billionaire donors, they won’t need Donald Trump anymore. The party will give him the cold shoulder and leave him without allies as he lurches from one self-inflicted crises to the next until his entire administration goes down in flames.
The idea is not entirely without basis. After all, Grover Norquist infamously stated that Republicans don’t actually need a leader, they need a rubber stamp:
“All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. […]
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”
Trump is pretty much perfect for this role. He has no ideology beyond promoting himself so he will sign literally any bill put in front of him as long as he’s told it will make him popular and beloved.
The problem with Trump, of course, is that he’s mentally unstable and not a little bit stupid so even as he’s anxious to sign bills, he tends to make everything an uphill battle for Republicans. The GOP isn’t blameless in this department; they’re extremely bad at governing and even with a less deranged president, they would still be very bad at running the country but that being said, Trump exacerbates the situation to an almost untenable degree for them.
So now that the GOP has what it really wants, why keep sticking by Trump? He’s clearly unhinged, manifestly unfit for office, obviously a treasonous piece of shit working on behalf of, or being blackmailed by, Russia, and he’s energizing the Democratic base in ways even that uppity Negro Obama couldn’t do. For the love of Baby Jesus, a dozen women in Virginia are one seat away from taking over the House of Delegates! Republicans had gerrymandered the House so severely that Democrats were never supposed to win again much less a bunch of icky girls with vaginas!
Trump is an albatross wearing a pair of cement shoes tied to an anchor strapped to the deck of the Titanic and logic dictates Republicans should be heading for the lifeboats with all due haste once they get their tax cut. Joy-Ann Reid would appear to be right; the GOP is going to abandon Trump.
There’s just one tiny little problem: Trump voters.
Trump voters do not care about anything except making liberals cry. They will accept any burden, any pain, any cost as long as it sends the left into spasms of rage.
Ending Net Neutrality will make the internet more expensive? Eh, as long as liberals are mad, I’ll pay more for my porn.
Raise my taxes to pay for tax cuts for billionaires? Oooohhhhh, liberals hate the rich! Shut up and take my money!
Cuts to public education? Sure, my kids will suffer but I’m willing to pay that price to stick it to the left and their snobby coastal elitism.
Gutting Medicare? Well, I don’t like that, but I’m pretty sure they won’t cut my Medicare anyway, just the Medicare for Those People.
Toxins in my kid’s water and food? The free market will fix that and until then, liberal tears will make it all taste delicious.
Trump voters are the embodiment of the phrase, “cutting off your nose to spite your face”. One gets the feeling that if Trump told them committing suicide would anger liberals because they’d have to clean up the mess, roughly 30% of the electorate would jump off the nearest cliff, screaming “Fuck you, snowflake!” on the way down.
In this political atmosphere, Republicans dare not turn on Trump because his slavishly devoted followers will run from the GOP faster than a conservative running from personal responsibility. Without the white nationalist vote that Trump harnessed, Republicans will be in a world of hurt.
That means there will be no triggering of the 25th Amendment by Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet. Even if they were so inclined, it would be seen, more or less correctly, as a Republican coup against Trump (you mean they just figured out he’s unfit for office?). The backlash would be immediate and almost certainly violent. Assuming Pence wasn’t assassinated by 2020, enough Trump voters would stay home in a fit of rage that all the voter suppression in the world wouldn’t help keep him in office. At the same time, say goodbye to Republican control of the House and hello to a Democratic supermajority in the Senate.
It also means no impeachment short of Trump physically assaulting a woman on camera (don’t rule it out, he’s growing increasingly unstable) for the exact same reason. An impeachment wouldn’t necessarily trigger a violent outburst of the same ferocity a 25th Amendment removal would because it takes a lot longer (thus lessening the shock). It would, however, have the exact same effect electorally: Trump’s true believers would abandon the GOP in a fit of rage and hello again to total Democratic control.
Republicans won’t even try to quietly pressure Trump to quit the way they did Nixon during Watergate. One, because Trump would never quit under duress and, two, because he would immediately take to Twitter to tell his followers what the GOP leadership just tried to do. Now we’re right back to Republican electoral suicide without even the benefit of Trump being gone.
In fact, my guess is that Republicans will continue to be so afraid of their own base that they’ll do little more than raise token protests over Trump’s worst excesses. Unless, of course, the elected official is not running for office again; something we’ll increasingly see as the blue tidal waves of 2018 and 2020 draw closer and hopelessness envelopes vulnerable Republicans.
And let’s be clear here: This is not a temporary problem for the GOP. The open white nationalists are a part of the Republican base now and Republicans a political calculation to make: Speak the openly white supremacist language the animals in the Breitbart crowd want to hear and lose the moderates or go back to dog whistles and lose the Tiki Torch Nazis who will primary them and win anyway.
Even after Trump is gone by January 20th, 2021, Republicans will be stuck with his hardcore racist followers for at least a decade if not more. Yes, the “new” Tea Party (and you can rest assured there will be one) will suddenly realize that their taxes have gone up and the deficit is once again a bloated $1.5 Trillion (or more) a year. And, yes, they will be outraged at the Democrats because Fox News will tell them to be. They will swear on a stack of Republican Bibles that they’ve never heard of this Trump fellow and they absolutely never supported him. No, that is not the remnants of a Trump/Pence bumper sticker peeking out from under my Kasich-Graham logo! How dare you!
We know this is what will happen because this is what they did in 2009 after the disaster that was the George W. Bush presidency. Conservatives do not take responsibility for their bad decisions. Ever.
But the white nationalists, now normalized thanks to Trump, Republican indifference and a lot of help from the “liberal” media, will not forget Trump’s promise of a White America cleansed of Those People. They will run for office in the most racist, gerrymandered parts of red state America and win, forcing the GOP to continue to cater to Trump long after he’s succumbed to whatever illness is consuming his brain right this very second.
I want Joy-Ann Reid to be right. I want the Republican Party to turn its back on Trump and the existential threat he represents to both this country and the world. But that would require the GOP to stand up to their base and tell them something they don’t want to hear. It would require Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to have a spine or the tiniest shred of principle and, frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find any Republican at all that has either.
Republicans have spent the last 50 years building a base of angry, ignorant, paranoid, racist imbeciles because they thought a mob of morons would be easy to control indefinitely. Now they’ve lost control of their monster and they have no choice but to follow it off the cliff. It would be a delight to watch if they all weren’t so intent in dragging the rest of us over the edge with them.