And Now the Knife Fight to Take Out Trump

NEW BLOG PHOTO_edited- 3The harsh fact that Donald Trump will take over the White House presents liberals with an interesting ethical dilemma. Remembering how most of us reacted to Mitch McConnell committing Republicans to one goal in 2008, limiting Barack Obama to a single term, and how we recoiled at Rush Limbaugh crowing to his radio listeners, “I hope he fails”, how do we respond to this … unmitigated disaster?

One facet we should agree to wipe off the table here at the get go is the notion that Trump is illegitimate. Republicans overused that line on Bill Clinton and Trump himself built his campaign on the insinuation that Obama wasn’t even a legitimate citizen. We don’t need to go that far. He won. There were ten million more white males over the age of 45 available to Trump than experts thought after the 2012 election, and 91% of white Republicans stuck with their tribe. He exploited to his advantage every impulse inflamed by Republicans for the last 25 years. He’s their new leader.

For purposes of the coming non-stop battle, the basic reality of who Trump is will serve our needs well enough.

(I am as gobsmacked by what went down last night as everyone else, from Nate Silver to the Clinton campaign. My only defense is this blog post from last year, titled, Why Trump Can Win It All, And I Mean “All”).

But today, post-election, after the crudest, ugliest, most boorish and low-brow campaign of my lifetime, the traditional high-minded, generous impulse to accept defeat with humility and graciousness is wildly inappropriate. Trump is who he is. There’s no point kidding ourselves. At best he’s a self-serving buffoon. At worst he’s a threat to … well, you name it.

While the people who voted for him preferred him, maybe in spite of his misogyny, racism, tax avoidance, man crush on Putin, indifference to facts yadda yadda, you and I were/are disgusted by it. And for very legitimate reasons. But that’s the reality of Trump. He may be hiding a lot of information about how he has done business. But he isn’t hiding the quality of his thought-processes or character. All of which is another way of saying we’re not talking a normal, polite transfer of power to someone like Mitt Romney or John McCain. Traditional courtesies are misplaced.

This is a looming nightmare of dysfunction and, I strongly suspect, non-stop scandal so fraught with social and economic danger there’s simply no way any responsible citizen can doing anything less than object to it constantly and obstruct it at every moment and every turn. That may be hypocritical given the rages we’ve been in over the the Republican/Tea Party gridlocking of government function since 2009, but if turn about is fair play that crowd hardly has any grounds for complaint do they?

One great irony that it is easy to forsee that for all of Trump’s talk about jailing the criminal Hillary Clinton, the leaking, the trading of secrets and the investigative machinery that is about to go to work overtime exposing every detail of his finances, every accusation of sexual misconduct, every conflict of interest with adversarial foreign governments and on and on will be like gargantuan strip mining operation.

The average liberal may be a passive and polite soul, but out on the margins are very well financed individuals and organizations appalled and soon to be fanatically obsessed with not just neutralizing Trump’s authority, (the Republican Congress will obviously block all official investigations), but destroying him as quickly and definitively as possible. Nothing about that is pretty. It’s hardly the sort of behavior we were taught in high school civics classes or admonished to avoid by beard-stroking moralists. But it’s well within the rules of the game as the Republicans have been playing it.

It slid off Obama because there was no criminal or sexually predatory there there. But I doubt there’s an investigative reporter, whistleblower or hacker anywhere on the planet who doubts Trump is every bit the fraud we’ve seen on the campaign trail. Legendary Woodward and Bernstein-like reputations stand to be made based on who comes up with the smoking gun that takes him down.

Trump may have read the mood of “the deplorables” well enough to get elected, but my guess is he has no idea or any defense against the kind of knife fight the elite kids are about to bring down on him.

5 thoughts on “And Now the Knife Fight to Take Out Trump

  1. The election does indeed appear to be legitimate and we have to respect the process; it’s the equivalent of defending the rights of others to make hateful speech because we believe in the First Amendment.

    And, given how much power over our lives is about to be entrusted to this man, we should hope that he exceeds our expectations.

    I have a feeling, though, that Mr. Lambert is right and the next couple of years will allow us to really get to know Mr. Trump in full. I am an optimist by nature, but I don’t think we’re going to like what we learn.


  2. I keep thinking he will be so frustrated by the constraints of the system and will find it so much harder than he thought that he will quit. And that’s probably worse as Pence is equally scary.

  3. The trick will be to engage Trump but not destroy him, otherwise you end up with Pence, who actually came from talk radio.

  4. Brian, you’re smarter and more articulate than all the other analysts and commenters . . . put together. I had been traveling through the rural and small town areas of Wis Mich and Minn before the election, and i clearly saw this outcome. After 60 years in politics you can feel what is happening . . . and I talked with and listened to ordinary people both Democrats and Republicans and non-aligned ones. The disaster was one i hoped wouldn’t happen but knew in my bones it probably would.
    BUT, when you say, take the issue of legitimacy “off the table,” I disagree. Yes, the thug party went to extraordinary lengths to obstruct and delegitimize Clinton and Obama, and that wore thin with you and me (although not so much with the less-well-informed non-politically-attuned elements of the demos.)
    However, the reason I say we must insist that Trump/Pence is NOT legitimate is that they indeed ARE NOT legitimate, because they were soundly rejected by the citizens who voted–in other words, NOT the peoples’ choice. That was evident right after the election and is thunderingly obvious now the final totals are known.
    The founding fathers, of whom we expect to hear much nonsense in coming months, were themselves aware of a distinction between legality and legitimacy. The king may have had the legal power to govern the colonists without their consent, but his decision (or actually, Parliament’s decision) to do so was in violation of first principles underlying the basis of the laws and of the structure of civil society (under the doctrine of the social compact.)
    Therefore, consent of the governed was an essential element of legitimacy. We have spent our national history under the 1789 constitution trying to perfect the process of determining the consent of the governed, and most of the amendments to the Constitution have been attempts either to broaden the suffrage or to repair and refine the mechanics of presidential selection and/or succession.
    The first principles we’ve tried to establish are inclusive suffrage, majority rule, and (through court decisions) the principle of one person, one vote.
    Trump’s triumph happened only by violation of all three of those bedrock principles.
    Therefore, the GOP attempts to delegitimize Clinton and Obama should be seen as what they were–the pre-figurement of the overt fascistic politics we’ve now been beaten by. Our response MUST be to insist on the illegitimate basis of Trump/Pence. They were not the people’s choice; their election was secured only by a 20-year calculated campaign of voter suppression and disfranchisement, and their electoral-college majority is a grotesque violation of the one-person, one-vote principle (one Wyoming voter has five times the clout of one California voter!)
    So what I”m speaking of is the difference between fiction and fact, between right-wing propaganda falsehood and actual real-world truth.
    The only way Trump/Pence can gain legitimacy is if it is surrendered to them. What we should have had is the formation of a government-in-exile, rather than a craven capitulation by the gutless, clueless wonders in the Democratic leadership.
    Now it’s going to be up to the people. “We the people” need to speak up and defy tyranny and denounce the incoming administration as the criminal gangsters that they are—and without any legitimacy in the most meaningful sense!

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