(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, January 10, 2016.)
Yesterday’s post, “Yes, America Is Descending Into Totalitarianism,” elicited a thoughtful response from Chris Crawford. I will publish his reply in two parts.
As always, I agree entirely with your pessimistic assessment of the state of the country. And your suggestion that Mr. Trump will start down the path to fascism by pursuing revenge against those who cross him is right on the mark; I came to the same conclusion a few days ago. I can contribute two ideas to the discussion, the first heartening and the second disheartening.
On the sunny side, we have a strong likelihood that the Republican Congress will impeach and convict Mr. Trump. I realize that this sounds absurd, but here is my reasoning:
1. The Republican Party was dead-set against Mr. Trump throughout the primaries, because they recognized just how destructive he could be. Now they all claim to support him, but how sincere do you think that those proclamations are? My guess is that the average Republican is willing to give Mr. Trump the opportunity to demonstrate some statesmanship, but expects Mr. Trump to fail horribly — at which point the Republicans will impeach him. I suspect that many Republican Congresscritters have already discussed this possibility among themselves.
2. The Republicans need to protect their brand. If Mr. Trump triggers a sequence of scandals — say, grabbing Ms. Merkel by the pussy — the Republican brand will be so discredited that it will lose elections for a generation. In the Republican view, Mr. Trump will surely be gone in four years, and they’ll need to be able to continue to function as a party. They may well conclude that dumping Mr. Trump is the only way.
3. There is also the very real possibility that Mr. Trump intends to replace the Republican Party with The Gold-Coated Donald J. Trump Party. Why else would he be conducting a victory tour of the country, going to his most enthusiastic supporters? He already won the election! What’s the point of further campaigning? And note that he continues to spew Tweets to his followers. Is this merely a continuation of an old habit or does he intend to develop this new channel so that he can bypass the Republican Party in four years? Indeed, during the primaries he threatened to run as an independent if he lost the primaries. When the Republicans realize that Mr. Trump is a direct threat to their existence, they’ll surely dump him.
4. Here’s my weakest argument: the Republicans decide that Mr. Trump is harming the country as a whole and conclude that, for the good of the Republic, they must impeach Mr. Trump. Yeah, I know, it sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
Moreover, from the Republican point of view, impeaching and convicting Mr. Trump will put Mr. Pence into the Oval Office, and while they may find him too far to the right, he’s still a regular Republican politician and won’t go around grabbing women by the pussy.
I’ll post his bad news tomorrow.