The anti-Trump forces were hit with the news that Greg Gianforte, the Republican who has been charged with assault won a special electionon Thursday and will soon take his seat in Congress as Montana’s lone representative.
This was bad news for those who believed the Montana election would see American politics returning to some level of sanity And that Donald Trump will ultimately be impeached, that the 2018 mid-term elections will be a blood bath that will wipe the Republicans and that Americans will elect a Democrat as president in 2020.
It’s not going to happen.
The problem is that America is now polarised more than ever before. As James Hohmann writes in the Washington Post, Gianforte’s election points to a “growing tribalism that contributes to the polarization of our political system.”
Andrew O’Hehir in Salon says Donald Trump is a symptom of the fundamental brokenness of American politics, not the cause. He points to the extreme and ingenious gerrymandering of congressional districts locked in by Republican state legislators after the 2010 census virtually guarantees a GOP House majority until the next census and at least the 2022 midterms. And as for the Democrats, they are listless, divided and ideologically adrift.
“Right now the Democratic Party has no clear sense of mission and no coherent national message, except that it is not the party of Donald Trump. I can understand the appeal of that message, the longing for a return to normalcy, calm and order that it embodies. What we learned in Montana this week — and will likely learn in Georgia, and learn again in the 2018 midterms — is that that’s not enough. There is no “normal” state we can return to,” O’Hehir writes.
“For the Trump resistance to have meaning, it must be more than the handmaiden or enabler of a political party that has lost its power, lost its voice and lost its way. Electoral victories will come (and go), but we should have learned by now that they are never sufficient in themselves. Rebuilding and redeeming American democracy — if that can still be accomplished — is a much bigger job, and there are no shortcuts.”
The reality is American presidents, when they’re elected, become the default position for US politics.
Eleven presidents have been elected since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected for three terms (which resulted in the 22nd amendment, limiting subsequent officeholders to a maximum of two terms).
Eight of these administrations won a renewed mandate: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
A Ford victory in 1976 would have marked three consecutive terms for the GOP and George H.W. Bush win in 1992 would have meant four consecutive Republican terms. Since 1932, only once has a party held the White House for less than eight years: the administration of Jimmy Carter from 1976 to 1980.
And impeachment is unlikely.
Impeaching Trump would require a majority in the House and at least a two-thirds vote in the Senate. There would have to be massive defections by Republicans and, right now, that’s not looking likely.
Nixon faced impeachment because Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, and some Republicans had turned on him as well. Clinton was impeached in 1998 by a Republican-controlled House, but was acquitted in the Senate because the GOP controlled only 55 seats. Democrats will not be in a position to impeach Trump, without massive Republican defections.
Given the gerrymander, the 2018 elections will not change that.
For sure Trump is unpopular. But as analysis by the Washington Postreveals, 84 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of Trump right now and they are not budging. So popularity is over-rated. Given he was elected president with his approval rating hovering right around where it is now, you can see why Trump may not feel the need to change that.
This bit of analysis is unlikely to please people. It might even leave some seriously depressed. But for those who want to see Trump gone, it’s wise to start planning around these political realities.