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Friday, March 22, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Who could be against the idea that liberals and conservatives should unite around the proposition that President Trump is unfit for office and should be removed from the presidency? The question takes on added urgency as the rule of law, the principle of arithmetic and the practice of congressional order are abandoned in Washington, while criminal indictments of Trump’s advisers proliferate. As E.J. Dionne notes in the Washington Post, “Our political foundation is rotting away.”

With an ignorant, shameless man in the White House, with command of 4,000 nuclear weapons, one would hope Americans of differing political views could unite around a program of opposition.

Last week Lawfare blogger Ben Wittes, a devout centrist, proposed such a program in 18 tweets. In the Daily Beast, reliably liberal journalist Michael Tomasky said he is ready to sign up, not the least because, he says, liberals don’t have to concede any core principles.

I see Kristol and George Will popping up on MSNBC, I see Max Boot emerge as one of the most powerful critics of Trumpism around, and I peruse Jennifer Rubin’s columns that with each passing week are reading more and more like Molly Ivins’. Irving Kristol, Bill’s father, famously said that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality. Today, a liberal is a conservative who’s been trumped by it.

They’ve changed. Not me. I’m happy to make common cause with them.

I would be, too. I agree with virtually all of Wittes’ 18 points and I know many conservative and libertarians who will, too. Charles Sykes, conservative blogger turned anti-Trump author (“How the Right Lost Its Mind“), told me in a recent interview he’s ready to join with the left in opposing Trump.

“We’re in an emergency. Left and right don’t agree on much, but those few things we do agree on are now in danger: rule of law, free speech, the democratic process,” he said. “The question is, can we work together?”

In principle, yes. I have no problem working with Sykes, who is a Marco Rubio Republican whose policy positions I don’t share, or with Wittes, who is an advocate of a drone war that has spread chaos and state failure the world over. I wouldn’t even have a problem working with a Kristol or a Boot, even though they advocated the catastrophically stupid and criminal invasion of Iraq.

Politics is not religion. Sometimes it requires making common cause with people you find morally abhorrent. If Nelson Mandela could work with F.W. de Klerk to end South African apartheid, American liberals can work with Bill Kristol to end Trump’s presidency.

The Problem

But for me, Wittes’ tweet #4 is the poison pill in his proposal.

#IBelieve in a temporary truce on all such questions, an agreement to maintain the status quo on major areas of policy dispute while Americans of good faith collectively band together to face a national emergency. #IBelieve that facing that national emergency requires unity. /4/

— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) November 26, 2017

Dionne identifies the problem with this notion:

At the moment, political power in our elected branches (and, in effect, in the Supreme Court) is held by Republicans and conservatives. They are using Trump to push through outlandish policies on taxes and health care. They are lauding Trump’s executive orders that scuttle regulations safeguarding consumers, workers and the environment. They are ecstatic about his filling the judiciary with his, and their, allies. Progressives cannot be asked to pretend this isn’t happening. We’re a long way from a “truce.”

“Trump is indeed a national emergency,” writes Jeet Heer in the New Republic., “but there is no escaping the logic of partisan politics. The best way to take down the president is to strengthen the Democratic Party from within, not dilute it with fickle fellow travelers.”

Heer is right that mobilizing around a centrist platform in opposition to Trumpism is a recipe for demobilizing and discouraging Democrats. But I don’t think that is what Wittes is proposing, nor what Tomasky endorsed.

What they are talking about—without using the I-word—is a left-right coalition for impeachment. That, at least, is a feasible idea, but only on one condition: that anti-Trump moderates and conservatives contribute something of value to the cause.

We know what the liberal left has to offer in the struggle against Trump: massive demonstrations; bodies (and lives) on the line to stop white supremacists; lawsuits to stop illegal and unjust policies; and votes against his actions that violate core American principles.

What does the anti-Trump right bring to the coalition table? So far, not much.

The #NeverTrump movement failed to stop, or even slow, Trump during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. Since inauguration day, their opposition has grown more vehement, even eloquent. But they have not moderated the actions of the delusional president, nor mobilized a conservative bloc in Congress that will vote to curb Trump in any way. Nor have they made the case for removal via impeachment. On impeachment, Sykes told me, “We’re not there yet.”

As long as that’s true, there’s no basis for a left-right coalition. Tomasky is correct that the anti-Trump right seems to be moving toward the left’s position on Trump, a trend to be encouraged. But #NeverTrump words are still far more impressive than #NeverTrump deeds.

That doesn’t mean a coalition is a pipe dream; only that it must be built on practical considerations.

The Right Stuff

The example of South Africa is instructive. Mandela didn’t refuse to negotiate because de Klerk was complicit in the regime’s crimes (even though he was) or because his policies were reactionary (even though they were).

Mandela agreed to negotiate with an enemy he regarded as immoral because de Klerk had something he needed badly and did not have: credibility with white South Africans who needed convincing that the racist regime was doomed and that they had to accommodate themselves to peaceful change. Mandela put aside his moral and policy judgments for the sake of the larger goal.

In the same way, liberals can put aside moral and policy differences with the right, but only if the anti-Trump conservatives can supply something that the left can’t generate itself; namely, arguments and actions that will build support among moderate and conservative Republicans for impeachment and conviction of Trump.

If the anti-Trump conservatives supply fuel for the engine of impeachment, then a left-right coalition can succeed. After dramatic Democratic gains and/or takeover of the House of Representatives in 2018, the anti-Trump forces on Capitol HIll could put aside policy differences (temporarily) and unite behind articles of  impeachment that principled Republicans (if there are any left) could vote for. That, in turn, could lead to Senate conviction of Trump, or his overdue resignation.

Tomasky is right that liberals could use a conservative partner to remove Trump. The question is, who is the F.W. de Klerk of American conservativism? And the answer is, so far, no one.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.

 

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13 responses to “Can Left, Right, And Center Join To Fight Trump?”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    The only way Trump’s core supporters, which may not include conservative intellectuals, will abandon their hero is if the economy collapses, the effectiveness of social programs is compromised, deficits and accumulation of debt skyrocket, inflation and interest rates rise to record levels, and the rest of the world express their revulsion the way Teresa May did. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of this will happen in 2018. The effects of Trump’s recklessness, and GOP policies, especially the current tax “reform” Bill, will not be felt immediately.

    • Sand_Cat says:

      Hopefully a lot of them are going to get an unpleasant surprise on tax day 2019, but that’s too late for the id-terms.

      • PatrickHenry says:

        Just as an awful lot of people on Obamacare will see their Premiums SKYROCKET on 1-1-18.

        • Independent1 says:

          You may well be right – THANKS TO THE GREEDY THIEVING REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE PRIMED THE PUMP TO DRIVE UP HEALTHCARE PREMIUMS FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!!

          INCLUDING THEM AND THEIR CONSTITUENTS!!!!!!

        • Independent1 says:

          It’s not by accident lowlife, THAT ALL 10, of the states that Gallup-Healthways says are the most miserable states to live in with the worst quality of life – with the highest crime rates, highest murder rates, highest unemployment rates, highest obesity rates, highest rates of drug and alcohol use, highest ways of dying anyway you can list rates, ARE ALL RUN BY THE GOP!!!!!!

        • Independent1 says:

          Here’s the photo of Republicans laughing as they worked to tear apart Obamacare, knowing full well that the legislation they were enacting was going to drive up premiums and end up with thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of Americans dying in the next couple years.

          AND THEY’RE LAUGHING!!!!!!!

          HAVING A GRAND OLE’ TIME KNOWING THEY’RE WORKING TO KILL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c25d45ce3a921b8c4f0d00a7e091fc079cf2ca83105e26a0c702fd978891f706.jpg

        • Sand_Cat says:

          Thanks for again confirming you’re the kind of creep who is overwhelmed with delight at the prospect of inflicting further suffering on the poor and powerless. Gloat on… your posts tell us far more about YOU and your pathologies than anything else.

    • Independent1 says:

      Dominick, I’m not so certain that 2018 can’t see the economy collapse, including the idiots investing in and pushing up the stock market based solely on speculation. Everything Trump and the GOP have done this past year has set things up for an economic catastrophe – any one thing may not cause it, but the GOP has built up one thing after another capped now with this disastrous tax bill.

      Americans don’t have to actually realize the damage the tax cut bill will cause them, they only have to be made aware of it and fear it such that they pull back in their spending. And there are plenty of groups out there now making people across the nation aware of just how disastrous this bill will be to the majority of the middle class and poor down the road.

      And see this article which appeared yesterday in the Washington Post:

      I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/30/im-a-depression-historian-the-gop-tax-bill-is-straight-out-of-1929/?utm_term=.57b48ce91a37

      And couple that article with this one:

      The volume is all the way up to 11

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-volume-is-all-the-way-up-to-11/2017/12/01/6eaf4e8c-d6c4-11e7-a986-d0a9770d9a3e_story.html?utm_term=.04342403db1b&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

      • Dominick Vila says:

        Thank you! The similarities between the policy decisions that contributed to the Great Depression, and what the GOP is doing again, is scary. What worries me the most is the indifference of most of the people that will be affected the most by the so-called “reform”.

      • PatrickHenry says:

        Just as I figured, you LEFTISTS Hope the economy fails, just so More of your failed Socialism gets to be tried AGAIN? Isn’t going to happen, the Dow Jones has Skyrocketed, Companies & Jobs are coming back, Criminals are being Deported, Tax Laws are being made simpler & fairer, etc.
        p.s., Isn’t it time for you to be packing? DACA because of Dems NEVER enforcing Immigration Laws, & demanding a CLEAN Amnesty, won’t save you. LMAO…

        • Independent1 says:

          And your mental delusion and idiocy just go on and on.

          No one is hoping for an economic collapse, but history has shown that that is what the GOP is all about, one economic collapse after another!!

          Of the 20 recessions and depressions that have occurred in America since 1900 – 17 recessions and 3 depressions, the GOP is responsible for 14 of the 17 recessions and all 3 depressions.

          It’s just a fact of life LOWLIFE!! THE GOP ARE NOTHING BUT GREEDY IDIOTS THAT KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT RUNNING A GOVERNMENT!! NOTHING!!!!!!!!

          NOT ONE REPUBLICAN HAS EVER BEEN IN OFFICE SINCE 1900 THEY’RE WHOLE TERM WITHOUT DRIVING THE ECONOMY INTO A RECESSION OR DEPRESSION!! NOT ONE!!

          WHILE 3 DEMOCRATS HAVE DONE THAT – LBJ, CLINTON AND OBAMA!!!!!!

          ALL REPUBLICANS ARE ARE A BUNCH OF GANGSTERS JUST LIKE THE ITALIAN MAFIA!!!!!!!

        • Independent1 says:

          And by the way, lowlife, what are you and your henchmen friends going to do with all that money you idiots think all these businesses are going to make from the reduced taxes and business restrictions, when our planet gets to the point that there are so many devastating storms that businesses themselves are wiped away as has happened this year in California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and numerous other places around the nation??

          Like what happened to Branson who spent millions of dollars building up his Caribbean Island only to have the fiercest storm in history virtually wipe it off the map!! Did it make any sense for Branson to make more millions only to have what he used those millions for get destroyed??

          And do you have any family there lowlife?? What do you expect your family and friends to do when global warming creates more storms because Trump and the GOP have rescinded legislation it took decades to enact to help save our planet, when those worsened storms maybe will end up killing them or destroying the people you claim to care about??

          Just stand around a laugh like these idiot Republcans???

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d5e9ec69a4f059720b4eff36dbd73ef8c3e836ecf63d2a56cf416c08677ec120.jpg

  2. We’re all well aware of the symptoms manifested by the greed, avarice, and the thirst for power afflicting our politicians. And therefore, we’re seeking a political solution.
    The partisanship in America is so deeply ingrained that to expect a solution to a spiritual problem from the political realm makes no sense, contradicts logic, and leads down a one-way street to failure.
    Until Americans accept that Religion as a force has waned in influencing the affairs of humanity, and insists on a political solution involving a byzantine convolution of procedural machinations to remove Trump, then Trump most likely will remain in Office until we are pushed to the brink of total disaster. Failure to acknowledge this obvious cause-and-effect will only prolong the Trump Disease. And should Trump by chance be removed, there is an entire political machinery, well oiled and honed in order to produce new Trump-like individuals.
    All one has to do is to take the pulse so to speak of America in order to realize that the patient is gravely ill, and that no medicine born of the mind of mortals is capable of uprooting the root cause of our illness—namely, the moribund nature of society and the drying up of all religious sentiments that once enabled so many Americans to aspire to do better. All that is left is a desire for mediocrity and a debasement of the human condition.

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