What I Expect

At the so-called National Prayer Breakfast, he walks in with a newspaper displaying the headline ACQUITTED. In front of a roomful of evangelical leaders, he proceeds to unleash his anger on the Democrats (and one traitor) who impeached him. He ranted.

What should he have done?

An adult would have been gracious, said little or nothing. Proceeded with the presumed intent of the meeting and left all that at the door. Certainly, you do not gloat. Gloating is for lesser beings, petty and vindictive, with no sense of the appropriate. It sets the entirely wrong tone for the supposed “leader of the free world” to indulge his sense of personal betrayal at what ostensibly is a religious gathering.

And then that marvelously unselfaware line:  “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong…”

Spoken to a roomful of the most blatant hypocrites in recent history: the evangelical supporters of a president who has made public mockery of so-called Christian Values. A group of people who have collectively turned their back on what Jesus means to embrace someone who will, they seem to feel, will finally impose their vision of “social justice” on the people they too often condemn from their own pulpits.

One more detail to note—that tirade? That was his Reichstag Fire speech. Condemning the treacherous enemies who have now failed, who will soon be feeling his wrath.  It’s a rallying cry, a re-election gambit, and slab of bloody meat tossed to the feral faithful.

We are seeing the result of the polarization of the last 20 years, a situation wherein “reasonable” and “impartial” have no actual meaning for some, especially if they mean finding grounds to judge something wrong. Romney stood by principle and voted according to his interpretation of the facts presented. He was, in my view, reasonable and impartial. But that is no longer a meaningful stance.

It should begin to register on some level even among his supporters that the ranks of the discredited are beginning to overflow. When one after the other who started out as allies is cast into the wilderness when finally a disagreement over policy or procedure is too blatant to ignore, the faithful decide in retrospect that the critic must never have been loyal to begin with.  It cannot be that this bastion of conservative principle might have a point. No, out, away. Banishment. And ridicule. When people you once sided with suddenly become “the enemy” because they pointed out a problem, the Problem is not with them but with your reasons for such unquestioning devotion. How many does it take before you start to think that maybe your hero isn’t what you thought?

Still, at this moment, personally, I do not see Trump as the primary problem. I’ve been doing a little reassessing lately, trying to understand what we’re seeing, and I honestly cannot see that this president is anything but an aberration. My focus is on Congress and the GOP apparatus itself.

Mitch McConnell, as of November, has blocked over 250 House-passed bills from even be heard before the Senate. He has placed himself as a dam and will not even allow debate. This situation is being used to give the impression that the newly Democratic-controlled House has been doing nothing. Precisely the opposite is the case. Now, you may argue that the substance of those bills may be contrary to the nation’s welfare, but the fact is we do not know based on common knowledge. You want to vote a bill down, bring it to the floor and hear it. That is not what is happening.  McConnell characterizes himself as the Grim Reaper of Progressive Legislation. He has vowed to prevent any progressive measures from passing.

Without that, how effective could Trump ever have been? He understands very little about government. He presides over an administration of bullies. He wants the world to get in line behind America. There is no nuance, no comprehension of the complexities of the world—just profit and loss. He has demonstrated time and again he not only cannot color inside the lines, he doesn’t know what the lines are there for. With a different dynamic in D.C. what could he have accomplished? He requires McConnell, who does understand the machinery.

And along with him the entire GOP, who, with just now the single exception of Mitt Romney, are locked into his program. Lindsey Graham, who at one time was his most barbed and cogent critic, has become little more than a lapdog, seems to exemplify the utterly bizarre lobotimization of the GOP.

It is fair to ask, what is it he has on them?

But that may be going a step too far. Not all of them, certainly. Each one must be getting something out of this, if nothing more than a shot at re-election.

What I expect going forward. It may be that Romney could switch parties. He will certainly be made to pay a price for his integrity. I expect another surge of young voter-driven purges in the House and, more importantly, in the Senate. I think it highly likely that McConnell will lose this time around, possibly by a narrow margin. I expect the Democratic nominee to win the popular vote again. If the Democrats are smart, they will let the numbers dictate the nominee and not do anything to jeopardize their chances in November.

I expect Trump to sue if he loses. We may even see the Supreme Court drawn into the fray again.

But I do expect things to be different. We are not Weimar. If Trump wins re-election but loses Congress, I expect him to eventually quit.

If he loses, though, I expect there to be a rebuilding of the judiciary and repairs done to our civic institutions. If there is a silver lining to this, it is that the damage already done has left a lot of vacant area in which to build something better than we had before.

But I do expect better.

None of which will happen if people fail to vote.