Imagine that an impeachment resolution against Trump passes the House. Trump claims it’s the work of the “deep state.” Fox News’s Sean Hannity demands every honest patriot take to the streets. Rightwing social media call for war. As insurrection spreads, Trump commands the armed forces to side with the “patriots.”
Or it’s November 2020 and Trump has lost the election. He charges voter fraud, claiming that the “deep state” organized tens of millions of illegal immigrants to vote against him, and says he has an obligation not to step down. Demonstrations and riots ensue. Trump commands the armed forces to put them down.
If these sound far-fetched, consider Trump’s torrent of lies, his admiration for foreign dictators, his off-hand jokes about being “president for life” (Xi Xinping “was able to do that,” he told admirers in March. “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day.’), and his increasing invocation of a “deep state” plot against him.
The United States is premised on an agreement about how to deal with our disagreements. It’s called the Constitution. We trust our system of government enough that we abide by its outcomes even though we may disagree with them. Only once in our history – in 1861 – did enough of us distrust the system so much we succumbed to civil war.
But what happens if a president claims our system is no longer trustworthy?
Last week Trump accused the “deep state” of embedding a spy in his campaign for political purposes. “Spygate” soon unraveled after Republican House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy dismissed it, but truth has never silenced Trump for long.
Trump’s immediate goal is to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation. But his strategy appears to go beyond that. In tweets and on Fox News, Trump’s overall mission is repeatedly described as a “war on the deep state.”
In his 2013 novel “A Delicate Truth,” John le Carré describes the “deep state” as a moneyed élite — “non-governmental insiders from banking, industry, and commerce” who rule in secret.
America already may be close to that sort of deep state. As Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Professor Benjamin Page of Northwestern University found after analyzing 1,799 policy issues that came before Congress, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
Instead, Gilens and Page concluded, lawmakers respond to the policy demands of wealthy individuals and moneyed business interests.
Gilens’ and Page’s data come from the period 1981 to 2002, before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in its “Citizens United” decision. It’s likely to be far worse now.
So when Trump says the political system is “rigged,” he’s not far off the mark. Bernie Sanders said the same thing.
A Monmouth Poll released in March found that a bipartisan majority of Americans already believes that an unelected “deep state” is manipulating national policy.
But here’s the crucial distinction. Trump’s “deep state” isn’t the moneyed interests. It’s a supposed cabal of government workers, intelligence personnel, researchers, experts, scientists, professors, and journalists – the people who make, advise about, analyze, or report on public policy.
In the real world, they’re supposed to be truth-tellers. In Trump’s conspiracy fantasy they’re out to get him – in cahoots with former members of the Obama administration, liberals, and Democrats.
Trump has never behaved as if he thought he was president of all Americans, anyway. He’s acted as if he’s only the president of the 63 million who voted for him – certainly not the 66 million who voted for Hillary or anyone who supported Obama.
Nor has he shown any interest in unifying the nation, or speaking to the nation as a whole. Instead, he periodically throws red meat to his overwhelmingly white, rural, and older base.
And he has repeatedly shown he couldn’t care less about the Constitution.
So what happens if Trump is about to be removed – by impeachment or even an election?
In early April, Sean Hannity predicted that if impeachment began, “there’s going to be two sides of this that are fighting and dividing this country at a level we’ve never seen” – “those that stand for truth and those that literally buy into the corrupt deep state attacks against a duly elected president.”
A second civil war? Probably not. But the way Trump and his defenders are behaving, it’s not absurd to imagine serious social unrest. That’s how low he’s taken us.
This article was originally published at RobertReich.org
Did Trump know Robert Hyde was stalking Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch?
Robert Hyde is a businessman and former marine who's running against Democrat Jahana Hayes for the 5th Congressional seat in Connecticut. He’s the newest entry into the dramatis personae of the Trump-Ukraine saga. Text messages released by the House suggest Hyde was stalking Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Lev Parnas, who turned over the messages, says he never took Hyde seriously. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Parnas maligned Hyde’s character, saying he never saw him when he was not drunk. Parnas is one of Rudy Giuliani’s goons. In one way or another, he has been at the center of the president’s conspiracy to smear Joe Biden and rewrite the history of 2016 so that Ukraine, not Russia, is the enemy. Parnas is now under indictment for violating campaign-finance laws. He’s coming forward with what he knows about Donald Trump in an apparent bid for leniency.
Here’s the bizarre truth about the power of Donald Trump’s toilet obsession
For Donald Trump, the personal certainly is the political.
He has shown himself to be a malignant narcissist. He is an egomaniac. Trump's personal obsessions drive most if not all of his behavior. He has no conception, care or concern for most other people.
Trump's personal and political brand is grievance-mongering and a false narrative of white victimhood. This won Donald Trump the White House and remains the bedrock of his political cult and popularity.
Lev Parnas spins wild tales of Trumpian corruption — and we know most of them are true
Following the rules of an anachronistic 18th-century ritual, the House managers walked in formation to the Senate to deliver the articles of impeachment on Thursday. The sergeant at arms informed the senators that if they speak during the trial they could be imprisoned, and then the chief justice arrived in his robes accompanied by four senators. He then administered the constitutionally prescribed oath to deliver impartial justice to the assembled senators, after which, one by one, they signed their names to a book. The only thing missing was the white wigs.