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Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 20, 2016

 

Property in Australia

by Tom Sullivan


Photo by Guillaume Blanchard via Creative Commons.

Given the animus in Washington directed at the current Democratic president, my wish list for the 2016 Democratic candidate is pretty modest. There are gubernatorial and other state races that have much more local impact than who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So I want only two things: the next two Supreme Court picks and coattails. For the first, I need the Democratic candidate to win. For the second, I need the candidate to win big.

Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann examine for Atlantic magazine how that might work out. The nominating conventions of both major parties will have a say in that. Ornstein and Mann observe that Cleveland has ordered riot gear for 2,000 in advance of the Republican convention in July:

We may shock you if we say that whatever the circumstances, if Trump does capture the Republican nomination and there is no significant third party or independent effort, he has a chance, however remote it looks now, to win. With America’s tribal politics, any nominee probably starts with a floor of 45 percent of the votes. What if there is serious economic turbulence or a Paris-style attack in the fall? Could enough voters in key states like Ohio and Michigan go to the strong man? It’s possible. And although a Trump presidency would be constrained by the elements of the American political system that have brought gridlock—separated powers, separate institutions, and centers of power—it would not be pretty.

Trump’s monumental ego would be blown up even more by a presidential victory, and his modus operandi in business and the nominating process—telling his subordinates to act with no questions asked, using bluster and intimidation to force others to bend to his will—would be reinforced. He has already threatened House Speaker Paul Ryan with consequences if Ryan does not go along with his desires and priorities. And Ryan, Senate Leader McConnell, and other key Republicans and Democrats would not go along with most of them. Would Trump move unilaterally with executive actions, going far beyond any previous president? The prospect of American leadership in the world under a President Trump is downright frightening. What happens when Mexico and China tell him where to put his demands that they pay for a wall and alter their currencies and trading habits? What if Trump early on faces the kind of international challenge George W. Bush had when China shot down an American plane and refused to give it up? Would Trump react as Bush did, with restraint by using diplomatic means? Would Trump try to use the resources of the executive branch, including the Secret Service, the military, the IRS and intelligence agencies, to force members of Congress, the press and other countries to comply? Perhaps not. But there could quickly be a crisis in governance that has not been seen in generations.
Several Republican groups are taking extreme measures (what else?) to see that that never happens. A delegate-by-delegate fight to keep Trump from securing enough delegates to win nomination on the first ballot is an option, but one at this point with little margin for error. Fielding an independent candidate is a last-ditch measure, but not out of the question. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol circulated a memo to allies on how that might play out. Others may embrace the hated Sen. Ted Cruz:
About two dozen conservative leaders met Thursday at a private club in Washington, where some pushed for the group to come out for Mr. Cruz to rebut the perception that the stop-Trump campaign was an establishment plot. “If we leave here supporting Cruz, then we’re anti-establishment,” said one participant, who could be heard by a reporter outside.

But the group failed to agree on an endorsement, instead pleading for Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz to avoid competing in states where one of them is favored. “They’re going to have to come to terms and lay off each other,” said Erick Erickson, an influential conservative commentator, who convened the meeting.
So far there is not an epidemic of flop sweat in Washington, but that may come even without Zika's help. Ornstein and Mann think the prospects for a Trump win is still slim, but not so slim that shopping for property in Australia is out of the question. Given that Trump seems to have no conception of how laws are made nor how political rather than commercial deals are made, it could be a long time before a President Trump "would or could recognize the reality of governing in a democracy."

"If Republicans in Congress can’t help themselves from giving a collective middle finger to the outgoing president," they ask, "how will they treat a new Democratic president?" Exactly why my wish list is so modest.