NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman has a stark column today: Sounding Code Red: Electing the Trump Resistance. His opening frames in simple terms what the upcoming midterm elections are about:
With the primary season winding down and the midterms soon upon us, it’s time to point out that this election is not about what you may think it’s about. It is not a choice between the particular basket of policies offered by the candidates for House or Senate in your district or state — policies like gun control, right to choose, free trade or fiscal discipline. No, what this election is about is your first chance since 2016 to vote against Donald Trump.
As far as I am concerned, that’s the only choice on the ballot. It’s a choice between letting Trump retain control of all the key levers of political power for two more years, or not.
Friedman is hardly a wild-eyed leftist radical. He is the free trade advocate who argued “The World Is Flat”. He’s the namesake for “Friedman Units”, the period of time in which the Iraq invasion was supposed to turn the corner. He’s the man who argued to Charlie Rose that the Iraq invasion was justified. Friedman himself tries to make the point that he’s not a knee-jerk liberal. (As if there was any doubt.) Per the Times again:
I don’t write this easily. On many non-social, non-environmental issues, I’m not a card-carrying Democrat. I favor free trade, fiscal discipline, pro-business regulations, a democracy-expanding foreign policy, and I have an aversion to identity politics.
To be fair, Friedman was never a Trump supporter. His opposition to Trump goes back to the campaign. What’s significant here is that Friedman is specifically targeting the Republican Party for enabling Trump and refusing to put any checks on him.
…what we’ve learned since 2016 is that the worst Democrat on the ballot for the House or Senate is preferable to the best Republican, because the best Republicans have consistently refused to take a moral stand against Trump’s undermining of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Civil Service, the basic norms of our public life and the integrity of our elections.
[The Democrats] job is to get hold of at least one lever of power — the House or the Senate — in order to oust the most corrupt Republican lawmakers who lead key committees, to properly oversee the most reckless cabinet secretaries, like Scott Pruitt, and to protect the F.B.I., the Justice Department and Robert Mueller from Trump’s intimidation.
Friedman being Friedman, he can’t just leave it there. He has to throw in some standard bashing of Democrats on immigration, trade with China, patriotism, redistribution, etc. just to show he’s ‘fair and balanced’ as the saying goes. He won’t support impeachment of Trump unless the evidence is overwhelming, but he does want to see him reined in. He also hopes for a rebirth of the G.O.P. with the ‘best’ of conservative instincts prevailing. (Eye roll.) It’s hard to argue with his conclusion though:
Again, this is Code Red: American democracy is truly threatened today — by the man sitting in the Oval Office and the lawmakers giving him a free pass.