You have to give the Republicans who have decided not to get on the #TrumpTrain — possibly the world’s all-time worst metaphor given Trump’s unique appeal to hordes of online antisemites — a little credit.
Sure, they’d love to accomplish all the things Trump would have to do as president to avoid an inevitable primary challenge, including gutting Medicare, slashing taxes for billionaires and their kids, and guaranteeing that big oil will be able to accelerate climate change by slashing regulations. But they’re willing to risk all that because they’re clear-headed enough to be scared shitless by him. They recognize Trump’s unique disregard for the truth, societal norms, and the institutions that have kept the world from avoiding World War III.
Even if Trump weren’t the nominee, America is on the verge of a massive decision, unlike any we’ve faced in our lifetime.
More than fifty years ago, conservatives began a quest to reverse the gains of the New Deal, the Great Society and Civi Rights movement by fighting for an agenda that would gut the federal government’s powers to guarantee benefits, establish parity between workers and basses, and protect individual rights. And they’re on the verge of achieving the power necessary to do all of that and more. That the party is still on the verge of a crackup given the enormous spoils of a convincing win in November is a tribute to the unique threat Trump presents.
Here are five ways the GOP will achieve almost unprecedented political domination of the United States of America.
- An executive promising to take executive powers beyond even Nixon at his worst.
In case you missed it, the theme of the Republican National Convention is that the GOP’s chief political opponent should be jailed for an offense a Republican FBI Director said no reasonable prosecutor would ever indict over. But Trump isn’t just planning to use the enormous powers a president has to go after Hillary Clinton, he’s also vowed to go after other opponents like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. And he could. “Under the unitary executive, President Trump would control all of federal law enforcement,” Orin Kerr writes in the Washington Post. “He would have more than 100,000 armed law enforcement officials working for him. He would control the Justice Department and its lawyers, who would be working for him (and he wouldn’t even have to pay them).”
- A Congress intent of revising government’s role into one that primarily comforts the comfortable and afflicts the afflicted.
If Trump wins, the GOP will continue holding its largest majority in the House since before the Great Depression and would have a Senate majority willing to forget the 60 vote majority they suddenly decided was necessary for any new legislation when Democrats took the Congress in 2007. Since 2011, Paul Ryan has been releasing revised versions of his budget that he’s adapted to make easier to defend to the credulous press but nevertheless hit a few key themes: “It calls for a reduction in taxes that, if implemented, would likely give a disproportionate share of benefits to the wealthy. It calls for radically reducing discretionary spending, so that it is less than 4 percent of gross domestic product by 2050. And it calls for transforming Medicare into a voucher system,” Jonathan Cohn wrote in 2012 and it hasn’t changed much since. Republicans in Congress are absolutely unified with Trump in the promise to strip at least 18 million American of the health insurance. And they will certainly all unite to to prevent the government from doing anything to prevent climate change or regulate Wall St. And whether or not Trump is campaigning on Ryan’s budget, it’s his agenda whether he likes or not.
- A Supreme Court willing to toss out precedents.
Three more Samuel Alitos or three more Ruth Bader Gingsburgs. That’s the choice of this election. Republicans have already taken the unprecedented step of trying to maintain conservative control of the nation’s highest court. Meanwhile, Trump has taken the unprecedented approach of outsourcing his Supreme Court picks to conservative activists who will certainly continue the right-wing attack on workers’ rights, women’s rights, LTGBTQ rights, voting rights, environmental regulation, and the expansion of heath care through federal programs. We’ll see more decisions like Citizens United that purposely expand the purvey of the court to throw our precedent and achieve conservative policy goals that would never be possible to achieve through democratic means. In case you’re wondering, that’s how the far right has plotted to destroy extraordinarily popular innovations like Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and minimum wage laws. And just one more Samuel Alito would be enough to make that happen
- Total Republican control of a majority of states.
Since President Obama has taken office, Republicans have gained 913 legislative seats. And that’s just one way to try to grasp the enormity of their gains. “Republicans now control more than 4,100 seats — their highest number since 1920. After taking over 11 legislative chambers from Democrats in 2014, Republicans now control 30 state legislatures completely — and have full control of state government (state legislature and governorship) in 23 states,” the Washington Post reports. “Democrats, by contrast, have full control of 11 state legislatures and total control of state government in just seven states.” This is partly normal. The presidential party tends to see some attrition. Some is also a reaction to President Obama’s race and success at achieving his agenda, which has motivated the right enormously. It’s also a sign that an increasingly liberal Democratic base has trouble showing up or getting Democrats to show up in off year elections. But mostly, it’s a tribute to the millions and millions of dollars the right has spent building up an infrastructure of foundations and “social welfare” non-profits that now dwarfs any institutional power on the left, even labor unions. The right spends efficiently in small-dollar elections that have huge gains in shaping electoral maps and laws to guarantee further victories. And if they can win with the most unpopular nominee ever, it means they can almost do anything — possibly even call a Constitutional Convention that would put the radical refiguring of the Social Contract into our founding document.
- A victory that would mean mass deportations and a culture of vengeance towards non-white Americans.
Both parties have campaigned on the theme of “taking our country back” but not since George Wallace defended segregation has those implications been so dark. If Trump wins on a platform of deporting, banning and imprisoning unfavored Americans, it would transform this nation into one where your skin color becomes your credential for being seen or not being seen as a “real American.” We cannot underestimate the way this would empower bigots who see a fading a white majority as a threat akin to genocide.
Every election is opportunistically called the most important of your lifetime.
That may actually be an understatement this time.
Photo: Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts to balloons, confetti and electronic fireworks as he stands with his son Barron (L) at the conclusion of the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst