Two conservative think-tanky writers provided an enjoyable, if fanciful, read Friday with a New York Times piece titled: “Republicans got us into this mess, and they have to get us out of it.”
The joy portion of the piece comes in the diagnosis of the problem provided by Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution and Peter Wehner of the right-leaning Ethics and Public Policy Center. The fancy comes in their argument that GOP lawmakers might yet come to their senses and join in an effort to dislodge Trump before 2020 rolls around. Indeed, they argue, either removing him from office or kneecapping him through a nomination challenge is just as legitimate a course of action as voting him to defeat in a straightforward general election.
Here’s a bit of the joy (and yes, quoting heavily here, with all credit to them):
Recent developments should deeply worry Republicans, starting with those disastrous midterms. The Republican Party may have held on to the Senate, but Democrats now control the House of Representatives because they won more congressional seats than they had since the post-Watergate tsunami of 1974. They gained seven governorships and nearly 350 state legislature seats. According to exit polls, Democrats improved over their 2014 midterm showing by six or more percentage points among men, women, married voters, unmarried voters, whites, Hispanics, Asians, voters under 30, voters over 59, moderates, independents, urbanites and voters with college degrees.
In other words, Republicans lost significant ground among everyone except Mr. Trump’s core base of rural, evangelical and “noncollege” supporters … In short, by consolidating behind Mr. Trump, the Republican Party is isolating and alienating itself from the broader public. Indeed, the Trump paradox is that his support deepens among his most persistent admirers even as it erodes everywhere else.
Rauch and Wehner proceed to touch on the “chaos” enveloping the Trump administration due to the all-consuming corruption swirling around it. In short, the first portion of the piece reads almost as if it could be written by a liberal, sans the red-hot rage and disgust.
Where it gets perhaps most fanciful, but interesting nonetheless, is in their argument that one or more precipitous factors might actually drag GOP lawmakers out of their parallel reality and into the real world. Among the possibilities they mention: proof of criminality by Trump or his inner circle (presumably from federal prosecutors or congressional investigators); the economy taking a dark turn into recession; a bona fide crisis that Trump completely mismanages (though crises like Puerto Rico have already take place without consequence); and a primary challenge that proves having his name at the top of the ticket will decimate Republicans at the polls in 2020. At least the first three of those all seem possible—and what if a couple happened simultaneously? The fourth would require a GOP epiphany that seems almost impossibly implausible.
Where it gets perhaps most satisfying is here:
The most troubling — and from our point of view the most disappointing — development of the Trump era is not the president’s own election and subsequent behavior; it is the institutional corruption, weakness and self-betrayal of the Republican Party. The party has abandoned its core commitments to constitutional norms, to conservative principles and even to basic decency. It has allowed itself to be hijacked by a reality television star who is a pathological liar, emotionally unsteady and accountable only to himself. And it has embraced presidential conduct that, if engaged in by a Democrat, it would have been denounced as corrupt, incompetent and even treasonous.
Certainly, we can quibble over how long the GOP has been betraying “core commitments to constitutional norms” under the likes of Mitch McConnell and others. But with the basic assertions that these transgressions are taking place, that they are a betrayal of the country, and that Republicans would be filleting any Democrat as dastardly as Trump, Rauch and Wehner are acknowledging the realities that have been among the most vexing and infuriating of our time for liberals.
The two submit that removing Trump outside of the context of the 2020 election would not weaken the democracy, as many people have argued, but rather would strengthen it. And yes, they realistically concede that Trump’s exit is “a long shot.”
“In democracies, sick political parties usually need years in the wilderness before they can heal,” they write. “But if there is one thing that the age of Trump has clarified, it is that ‘unimaginable’ and ‘impossible’ are not at all the same thing.”
Sick political parties, indeed. At least someone outside of the liberals among us is willing to finally admit it.