Ever since Trump’s election victory last November, a worrying amount of his opponents have gone into chronic denial. The biggest example of straw-clutching was the suggestion that the electoral college could elect Clinton instead. Supporters frantically lobbied electors, even offering to crowd-fund any resulting fines or costs. Such a move would have been unprecedented, and in many states illegal (in Colorado, a faithless elector’s vote was declared void, and the elector was replaced). Even if the Electoral College had the power to overturn the outcome, it is extremely unlikely that they would have voted otherwise. Electors are vigorously vetted; all Republican Electors are hardcore supporters, and it was inconceivable to think that 37 of them would have voted for Clinton, over Trump. Would you expect 37 Conservative party delegates to make Corbyn Prime Minister?
Ultimately, there were more faithless electors for Clinton than Trump. Even then, some people failed to accept reality. At his inauguration, one protestor infamously screamed ‘no!’ after Trump was sworn in. This reaction struck me as odd; did the protestor seriously hope Trump was going to decline the Presidency at the last minute?
Now people are predicting that Trump will soon be departing and that he’ll even become the second shortest-serving President, being beaten only by Harrison. I am prepared to make my own prediction; Trump will remain in the White House until January 20th 2025.
2016 was a brilliant year for the Republican party, winning the White House, both Houses of Congress and the lion’s share of state legislatures. When Anton Scalia’s replacement is confirmed, the Republicans will have a majority (5:4) in the Supreme Court. Given Clinton’s appointments (Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) are 78 and 83 respectively, it won’t take the Republicans too long to consolidate their majority in the highest court in the land.
The Democrats have won the popular vote at six out of the last seven elections, but this success has not been reflected elsewhere. In 2008, the Democrats had a majority in the House of Representatives and House of Senate. Just two years later, the majority in the lower house was lost on a massive 9.1% swing to the Republicans; the Republicans have retained control of the lower house ever since. The Senate has had a Republican Majority since 2014. There are more than twice as many Republican governors as Democrats.
It bewilders me that a man in Trump’s position is regarded as being a lame duck President. Impeachment seems impossible as that would require a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Congress. When Republican Richard Nixon resigned, to avoid impeachment, the Democrats controlled both houses. In theory, the Cabinet can sack the President, but this clause has never been used. It seems unlikely that the Cabinet would do this, as it would end their careers (when Ford replaced Nixon he fired all but two Cabinet members in the ‘Halloween Massacre’). It stands to reason that if Mike Pence succeeded an impeached Trump, he would want to distance himself from the previous administration. I find it difficult to believe a cabinet consisting of the likes of an oil tycoon (Rex Tillerson) and a former banker (Steve Mnuchin) would choose to put the interests of the country first.
When something horrendous happens, it is only human nature to ignore it, or go into denial. People tend to treat horrific and unexpected developments as being a temporary blip, rather than long-term or permanent. Wishing away Trump will not remove him from the White House.
One of the main reasons Trump is perceived as a stop-gap President is the misconception that he is an abnormality with unusually extreme policies. Unfortunately, his policies and administrative style are depressingly normal; Franklin D. Roosevelt fought with judges and signed nearly 600 executive orders in his first year. President Truman authorised the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Clinton’s first speech to Congress attacked ‘illegal aliens’. George W. Bush built a border fence (with the backings of Senators Obama and Clinton).
The best hope is preventing his re-election in 2020, but that again is tricky; out of Trump’s immediate ten predecessors, only three (Clinton, Reagan and Carter) beat an incumbent. Term-limits were arguably introduced due to the difficulties with removing incumbents. If the Democrats want to win in 2020, they need to select a candidate who people will want to see in the White House. Selecting someone uninspiring such as Mitt Romney, John Kerry or Bob Dole, will not work.
If people want to remove Trump, they need to become politically active now and help build up a winning machine for 2020. Sitting back and letting the politicians do all the heavy lifting is not enough. The same goes for people in the UK, who want Theresa May gone. Assuming she’ll lose in 2020, just because none of your twitter friends support her will not suffice; if we want politics to change for the better, we must fight back.