August 12th, 2018
Despite the obvious peril and potential for great harm to the nation and the world, it’s enjoyable watching Trump continue to personally disintegrate as all his crimes and disgraceful behavior catch up to him. But make no mistake: it’s a very dangerous time.
The nation has been here before. Nixon, of course, but before that, as well. In 1932 FDR and the Democrats won the election by vast margins, but the nation was on the verge of collapse, and it would be a full four months before FDR and the Democrats assumed control. In the meantime, Herbert Hoover and the Republicans, ideologically incapable of addressing the Great Depression, were in control, and persuing the same destructive policies that had served them and the nation so poorly over the past 3+ years. Hoover was not a villain, not insane, and not heedless of the destruction that was driving the country into a morass. In desperation, at one point he offered FDR a “copresidency” to work through to the day, still months off, when FDR would be inaugurated. FDR sensed a trap, or at least a no-win situation, and declined. The country writhed in agony.
By the time FDR did take office, a third of the banks were shuttered, a dozen states were using script because US currency was no longer trusted, and unemployment was over 30% and starvation was widespread.
The political situation caused by the long gap between the election and inauguration was so dire that a Constitutional Amendment (20th) was passed, making the inauguration the twentieth of January, and the convening of the new Congress even earlier, January 3rd. Never again, it was resolved, would the country go through a slow-motion hanging as it did during the winter of 1932-33.
When Nixon fell, the denouement, after two years of investigations, was relatively rapid. Despite the sense of crisis, the country sensed that Congress would do its job if required, and the Court would rule in the national interest. When the Supreme Court did rule, 8-0, that he must release the tapes, Congressional leaders went to Nixon and told him he no longer had any hope of avoiding impeachment and conviction, and a few days after that, he was gone.
The moral rot in the GOP began in 1964 when the right wing first seized control of the party, making it the party of the loony John Birchers. Four years later, and Nixon embraced the bigots and aggrieved whites of the South, the infamous “southern strategy” which put the party on a pernicious path of ongoing public deception. So both fiscally and socially, the party had to put false faces on their true aims, hiding designs on the public treasury behind false concerns about ‘big government’ and ‘fiscal responsibility’ (and they went on to triple the size of the federal government and are responsible for nine out of every ten dollars in the national debt), and hiding their racist and authoritarian aims behind fake patriotism, fake religion, and loud claims that anyone who opposed them was socialist, if not disloyal.
It was a toxic stew even before it embraced the loony fundamentalist movement under Reagan, and the belief that the law existed to harass and persecute non-Republicans under Newt Gingrich.
It explains why Trump came to be the presidential candidate for the GOP, and why the party is utterly supine in the face of his obviously disastrous presidency. He is their Frankenstein’s monster, and like the doctor, they have lost control of their creation.
During the Hoover crisis, Hoover was a decent man trapped in an impossible situation, locked in by the always-destined-to-fail policies of Wall Street. He went on to serve the country honorably after the war and redeemed himself. Nixon may have had little interest in the welfare of the citizenry, and his patriotism is certainly open to question, but Republicans, at least, realized his position was untenable, and they needed to do the right thing, if only to save their own asses.
The safeguards that saved us in 1933 and in 1974 aren’t there. Republicans, trapped between voracious plutocrats who sense a change to make America their own private property, and the toxic little authoritarians of the trash right who want to make America a racist theocracy, can’t move without risking an eruption and rebellion by their base. The Supreme Court is compromised, and stands to be a plaything for fascists if the Republicans ram through the Kavanaugh nomination. And of course, Trump is completely amoral, and may not be intellectually or emotionally capable of knowing when he has lost, and decide to pull everything down around with him, a Samson-smash, a bid for failed glory.
Still, it’s not hopeless. The “Unite the Right” movement has failed so utterly that even Trump worked up the courage today to condemn Nazis. The huge demonstration in Washington attracted only a few dozen—and thousands of anti-fascist counter demonstrators.
Trump needs extremes and extremists to promote himself. His entire political career is modeled, after all, on “New World Order” by A. Hitler. Obviously America isn’t ready for Nazism.
He needs plutocrats, and they need him only if they profit, and dismay at his economic policies is growing rapidly as trade wars and increasing tensions work to isolate and ruin America financially.
Still, for America, that is not a good solution. After all, if plutocrats and the trash right turn on Trump and destroy him, it leaves the country beholden to the same groups that created him in the first place.
Best answer: the people must vote in November, and drive the Republicans far from the reins of power, and reinstate democratic freedoms and sanity.