Will Trump Win a Second Term?


March 8, 2019

Will Trump Win a Second Term?

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Logic would suggest that US President Donald Trump can’t make it through a reelection fight: his base is too small, and he’s done next to nothing to expand it. But Trump’s success at solidifying his base could be his salvation in 2020.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – It seems that every time I write about Donald Trump’s presidency, I pronounce it to be in more trouble than ever. This time is no different: he and his presidency are indeed in more trouble than ever. And yet that may not prevent him from winning again in 2020.

The Burn and the Smart Elizabeth

I used to think Trump might not even finish his first term, much less get a second. Now I’m agnostic. For one thing, the US Justice Department’s questionable view that a sitting president can’t be indicted is an inducement to fight to stay in office. Logic would suggest that Trump can’t make it through a reelection fight: his base, an estimated 35-38% of voters, is too small, and he’s done next to nothing to expand it. And while he has governed for the base, he’s failed to fulfill many of his promises. But logic isn’t a trademark of the Trump Presidency.

Much of Trump’s base is quite satisfied that he’s named two very conservative justices to the Supreme Court, that he’s rolled back regulations on various industries, and that businesses and the wealthy got their tax cut. But business tycoons and the wealthy don’t attend his rallies and cheer his every utterance. Those who do tend to be middle- and lower-middle class voters, to whom he has delivered little other than the satisfaction of yelling at mentions of Democrats and chanting – still – “Lock her up!” even though their target, Trump’s 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, has said that she won’t run again in 2020.

Trump is America’s first cult President. His followers delight in his insouciance toward the norms of political behavior, his dismissal of “political correctness,” and his skill at taking down opponents (like mocking the ultra-liberal Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has claimed native-American heritage, with the sobriquet “Pocahontas”). He skates on the edge of incitement and governs on the edge of danger. His disparaging of the press – a fanatic Trump supporter roughed up a BBC cameraman at a recent rally – satisfies his followers’ suspicion of “elites,” while helping him create a fact-free environment in which his thousands of lies define an alternate reality. His invention of a “national emergency” on the US-Mexico border channels his base’s bigotry (plus his own) and supposedly justifies an unprecedented presidential power grab (bipartisan majorities in Congress don’t agree).

Trump’s success at solidifying his base could be his salvation in 2020 if the Democratic nomination process doesn’t produce a strong enough opponent or ends in hostility. And, though Trump appears to have committed several impeachable offenses – accepting “emoluments,” or gifts or income from foreign sources, and obstructing justice, among others – the Democrats are reluctant to be seen as seeking his removal from office, owing to the fierce opposition of Trump’s base. (Fanatic Trump supporters have threatened literal civil war if their hero is impeached or convicted.) Leading Democrats say that they won’t begin impeachment – or a vote in the House to indict a president on specific grounds – without bipartisan support.

This could be a circular trap: it took some time for any Republicans to accept the possibility that Richard Nixon should be forced to leave office, and Trump’s base is both larger and more institutionalized (through Fox News, among other pillars). By launching a broad investigation of Trump’s private and public actions – the House Judiciary Committee (which has jurisdiction over impeachment) this week sent out 81 demands for more information – congressional Democrats are actually trying to prepare for impeachment. If this doesn’t succeed, the theory goes, they will at least have damaged Trump’s reelection prospects. It would also be useful in case Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s anticipated report does not offer anything helpful. (No one outside that investigation has a clue as to what Mueller has found.)

With an overcrowded field of democrat presidential hopefuls, he may be in The White House beyond 2020.Will he be impeached? That’s the Question to ask.

Some of the figures now called before the committee were suggested by Trump’s former consigliere, Michael Cohen, who, in his own recent open testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, called his former boss a racist, a con man, and a cheat. (Apparently he had also been helpful to the Democrats in closed testimony before the Intelligence Committee.)

Although the oversight committee’s Republican members portrayed Cohen as untrustworthy because he’d been convicted of lying to Congress and will soon go to jail, they noticeably didn’t defend Trump. (Cohen had essentially lied to defend Trump, with his encouragement.) He also offered some evidence and anecdotes that could prove highly problematic for Trump – for example, by suggesting that Trump knew in advance about the first WikiLeaks dump of Democratic Party emails and about the infamous meeting in Trump Tower between top Trump aides and Russian operatives. In the end, a poll showed the public believes Cohen over Trump by 50% to 35%.

There has already been conflict between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the White House over the former’s demand for information on why intelligence officials denied Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the high security clearance he needed to carry out some diplomatic tasks – and why they were overruled by the president, a highly unusual (though legal) act. Kushner is suspected of using his public position to advance his private interests, namely raising funds for his family’s real-estate business. More recently, it was revealed that the president ordered that his daughter Ivanka also be given clearance, though this is not required for her job, whatever it is. These are among the wages of Trump running the White House as a family business and of his indifference toward governance norms.

So was the failure of Trump’s meeting in Hanoi with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The collapse of the talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula was the result of Trump and his aides not preparing adequately – such agreements are often pre-cooked, or at least there are no great surprises – and of Trump’s assumption that his powerful personality and what he sees as a close relationship with the brutal Kim would carry the day.

The failure of the Hanoi summit was to some extent offset by relief that Trump hadn’t given too much away – though he had been on the path to doing so. True to form, Trump and his aides blamed the outcome on the Democrats for holding the Cohen hearing on the same day. And, true to form, they were lying: the hearing date had been set first.

Elizabeth Drew is a Washington-based journalist and the author, most recently, of Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.

5 thoughts on “Will Trump Win a Second Term?

  1. Din:

    Elizabeth Drew is right, “logic isn’t a trademark of the Trump Presidency.” Because Trump Presidency is a religious cult. His base is not supporters but followers. Religion and logic don’t mix. For millennia, religious apologists have advanced innumerable supposed logical arguments. It’s a fool’s errand. Believe whatever matters of faith you like. But apologists attempting logical arguments for them only make fools of themselves.

    I’ve absolutely no doubt in my mind that Trump is going down into history as the worst POTUS. It’s easy to take potshots at this particular president — every week seems to be an awful week for his administration. This week turned out to be another awful week for Trump. Despise his trade war with China, the trade deficit has ballooned to a record $891 billion. Border crossings by unauthorized immigrants have reached an 11-year high. And North Korea, fresh off last week’s aborted summit in Vietnam, has started rebuilding a key nuclear facility.

    By Trump’s own standards, judged against the promises he made on the campaign trail in 2016, the latest developments signify that his presidency has failed. People are noticing, except his cultist followers. So much for “I alone can fix it,” huh? Bah humbug!

    Trump is in very, very, very deep shits, with so many criminal investigations against him. Almost three quarters of the American people believe he will be criminally charged once he leaves office. And he knows he is guilty. That’s why he is so desperate to solidify his cultist base to run for reelection. Winning the reelection would not save him from prison eventually, but at least it will prolong and delay it from happening as long as he is in the Oval Office.

    And you know what? He actually has a chance to win, no matter how remote the chance is. And I disagree with Elizabeth Drew that his base, “an estimated 35-38% of voters, is too small”. one third of the electorates is not a small base. Moreover, his followers are devoted and loyal to him. History has shown that the followers of a cult would die for their leader. Remember Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple of San Francisco, the tragedy in “Jonestown”, Guyana.

    What makes you think the Democrats are so united? Nancy Pelosi in the past two weeks must be pulling her hair out. The Democrats had only just reclaimed the House, had barely begun to hold the Trump administration accountable, when one of her own members handed the opposition a perfect wedge with which to divide her party. Yes, I am talking about the objection of Rep. Ilhan Omar to being forced to “pledge allegiance” to Israel has ignited a firestorm of criticism from pro-Israel Democrats. Attempts to censure her then prompted a vigorous pushback from progressives who say the proposed resolution imposes a double standard. The controversy continues to escalate, and unlike the “green dream or whatever they call it,” it isn’t even about the Democrats’ substantive agenda.

    I believe Omar has a point, particularly given that The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — the largest and most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group — supported a Senate bill, backed by the Democratic leader, that would have bolstered efforts at both the federal and state level to punish private entities that engage in boycotts against Israeli products, and which has been criticized by the ACLU as being an unconstitutional infringement on Americans’ first amendment rights. I believe Omar is right that the pro-Israel forces in American politics are eager to police discourse and punish those who criticize Israel in the wrong terms. And her defenders are right that the massive backlash against her comments kind of proves her point.

    I am not going into the discussion on Israel-Palestine problem. And I let the readers to Google to find out more about the Ilhan Omar controversy. What I am saying is that there is a conflict and struggle going on now between the established pro-Israel Democrats and the newly elected members who are mostly from the left. And being a Palestinian descendant, I don’t blame Omar for feeling pressured to pledge her support for Israel as a condition for serving on the foreign affairs committee, and more generally to be part of “respectable” opinion.

    With infighting escalating within the Democrats, and the blind devotion of his cultist followers, Trump has a chance to be reelected, even though remote.

  2. dato.din,

    just to add to LaMoy’s keen analysis,
    //With infighting escalating within the Democrats, and the blind devotion of his cultist followers, Trump has a chance to be reelected, even though remote.

    following suggestion by this article is worth a salt also.
    https://newrepublic.com/article/152638/escape-trump-cult
    // “[W]hat can really win them over is not to prove that you are right. It is to show that you care. Only then will they believe what you say.”

    I too worried my new found home wanted a quick-fix that might likely result a second term Trump, or an entirely different left leaning populist.

    We have spent too little in “investing effort and time into building trust, first within, and then later between, identity groups.”
    I believe most “thinking” Malaysians could comprehend what was mentioned in the newrepublic article.

  3. Putin and his regime are beside themselves with glee. They are the real winners.
    Russian counter-intelligence operators helped to get Trump elected to high political office, and polarise the people of the USA; helped the “yes” vote for Brexit to get to 52% and mess up UK politics, — these are the major examples. Who knows what they have been up to elsewhere too — beside almost getting the neo-fascist Marine Le Pen elected as the President of France ?

    Payback time from the Russians for American hubris i.e. the Americans expanding NATO right up to the borders of Russia, getting former USSR allies to join NATO and the EU (instead of “Finlandization” which worked very successfully in the past, during the USSR days — in the case of Finland and Austria).

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