Amid growing fears that Democratic political leaders are not taking seriously the possibility that President Donald Trump could refuse to yield power if he loses in the 2020 election, progressive critics are voicing concern over Trump's retweet over the weekend of a post calling for two years to be added to his first term as "pay back for time stolen" by the Mueller investigation.
Written by right-wing Liberty University head Jerry Falwell, Jr. and boosted by the president Sunday evening, the tweet stated Trump "should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term" as "reparations" for the recently completed Mueller probe.
"It may seem nuts," Adolph Reed, Jr., professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, said of Falwell's tweet in an email to Common Dreams, "but I do think this is worth paying attention to."
After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump - no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on hi… https://t.co/gpCQRutrXs— Jerry Falwell (@Jerry Falwell)1557018046.0
"The Trump administration," said Reed, "obviously is contemptuous of procedural democracy, as are Republicans in Congress and elsewhere."
From Reed's perspective, "the Republicans' decades-long campaign to demonize and undermine popular and democratic institutions, suppress voting, forge a political alliance based on the most dangerously reactionary and irrationalist elements of the society and committed to eliminating all restraint to capitalist class power is particularly chilling."
"The confrontation between the House Democrats and the Trump administration over access to his tax returns and the executive branch's requirement to honor congressional subpoenas," said Reed, could prove far more consequential in the long run than "the daily theater of palace politics."
In a column on Monday, Esquire's Jack Holmes echoed Reed's alarm at the president's apparent endorsement of a two-year term extension:
Even if this is just another absurd trial balloon, it is the latest sign that the president may have little intention of leaving office no matter the circumstances. He has already been named—albeit as "Individual-1"—in one federal indictment, which led to his longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, going to prison this Monday morning. The evidence he abused his power and obstructed justice is damning...
Democratic leaders in particular must come to grips with the fact that he probably won't leave willingly. He can't afford to—it could land him in jail.
Trump's retweet came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned that Trump would refuse to give up power if Democrats don't win resoundingly in 2020. In order to to achieve such a victory, Pelosi said, the party should not run too far to the left.
"We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that," Pelosi told the New York Times. "Own the center left, own the mainstream."
Progressives were quick to reject and denounce Pelosi's suggestion that running on bold left-wing policies would be electorally harmful for Democrats.
And as historian Kevin Kruse pointed out, Trump could contest unfavorable election results regardless of the Democratic Party's approach or policy platform.
This is idiotic. Trump will surely contest a defeat no matter *how* it happens. https://t.co/Umev2GNhmq— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse)1557007375.0
In a column published by Common Dreams on Tuesday, Jeffrey Isaac, political science professor at Indiana University, expressed concern that Pelosi herself is not sufficiently worried about the possibility that Trump could refuse to leave office.
Responding to Pelosi's remark that Trump may not "respect the election," Isaac wrote: "I don't believe that commentators have treated this comment with the seriousness that it deserves. And yet, alas, I fear that neither has Pelosi herself taken the full measure of the comment."
"What cannot be right is to claim that Trump is a danger to the republic, and to orchestrate House investigations in a politically serious way that focuses attention on this, and at the same time to meet with Trump in the White House and even feign to do deals with him," Isaac wrote, citing Pelosi's negotiations with Trump on infrastructure. "This president must be opposed, consistently and unambiguously. Period."