2020-21 US Political Possibilities

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Martin Blank
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2020-21 US Political Possibilities

Post by Martin Blank » Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:22 pm

As the impeachment and trial of Donald Trump comes to a close today, I foresee not a president chastened but a president emboldened. I foresee nine months of turmoil until the November election, during which we'll learn ever more about his activities, especially as there's no stopping John Bolton's book from coming out, whether in printed or leaked form. Someone will leak it, and maybe someone in the House or Senate will have it entered into the record so anyone can read it for free.

I am not in that group that is already thinking that Trump is doomed to defeat in November. Fivethirtyeight gave him a 28% chance in 2016 and look how that panned out. Right now, according to the 270toWin consensus, the numbers are against him but it's not impossible, especially if he can win Florida (if he loses Florida and existing predictions hold, he has no way to win. Current analysis suggest Dems have 248 EV and Republicans 204; needing only 22 more EV, Florida's 29 would be an automatic win. But 270toWin has Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska (one of their split EVs), North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in play. Democrats have seven winning paths, Republicans four, with two paths to a tie (which is a Trump win, since each state gets a vote in the House and a majority of state delegations are controlled by Republicans). Florida's recent change to allowing felons to vote after completing their sentences may provide a decisive advantage.

The Senate is likewise up for change, but not necessarily a turnover. Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina are toss-ups; Collins voting to acquit Trump may get voters out in Maine and send that to Democrats (or an independent). (Maine may be a bit of a tossup, though, because ranked-choice voting will be used in a federal election for, I think, the first time in decades, if not ever, so we might see something unexpected.) McSally (AZ) and Gardner (CO) are getting pummeled in their states' presses. Tillis (NC) is underwater in some recent polls to his Democratic opponent. If all lose, that sets up a 50-50 split in the Senate, with the VP (whomever that is) as the tiebreaker. But there are some intriguing possibilities for Democrats to take charge even if Trump wins office:
  • In Georgia, a special election will determine who finishes out the term of Johnny Isakson, who resigned for health reasons last year. His seat was filled temporarily by the appointment of Kelly Loeffler, but only until a special election can happen in November. A runoff is possible if no one gets a majority. Doug Collins, a current member of the House of Representatives and a very strong Trump backer, has filed to run, very much against party wishes who fear that if he is the candidate, it will drive Democratic engagement, possibly even putting that state's electoral votes in play.
  • In Kansas, Kris Kobach, who led Trump's ill-fated voter fraud panel, is at least tied with the next person, if not the front-runner, in the Republican primary race. He is widely despised in Kansas, even among many Republicans, and could trigger an "anyone but Kris" response such as may have happened in 2018 when Kobach lost the gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly.
A win or two there sets up a Democratic majority in the Senate, something Trump certainly doesn't want. If a Democrat wins, Republican decisions under Trump come back to haunt them, specifically those getting rid of the filibuster on judicial nominations.

With all that out of the way, here are some things I can see happening.
  • Trump wins
    • If Republicans hold a majority (including a VP majority), Justice Thomas announces his retirement in 2021 or 2022 after 30+ years on the bench. He is replaced by a similarly-minded jurist in their 40s or 50s to cement conservative control of the Court for the next decade at least.
    • Republicans continue to confirm judicial nominees, though perhaps a little more thoughtfully if their control is narrowed as they can't afford defectors.
    • If Democrats get a majority, Thomas stays put as long as he can. Trump faces a hostile Congress with both houses controlled by political opponents. Trump continues to use emergency powers to try to get his way, even as he becomes the first president to risk being impeached twice.
    • In any case, the stream of bad news for Trump continues and he just becomes more combative. His financial information is leaked, and something really bad comes to light. Adults in the room leave, and his administration becomes more than a third "acting" positions. Even some Republicans begin to express public exasperation.
    • Also in any case, Democrats begin aiming for 2022 mid-terms, where 34 seats are up, 22 of them currently held by Republicans (though the Georgia seat Loeffler currently holds may not be by then). Potentially competitive states will likely include Colorado (D), Florida (R), Indiana (R), Missouri (R), Nevada (D), New Hampshire (D), North Carolina (R), Pennsylvania (R), and Wisconsin (R). Others might become competitive through resignations, deaths, or scandals.
  • Democrat wins presidency
    • In November 2020, Justice Thomas, oldest of the conservative wing, resigns effective December 31, 2020, allowing the Republican Senate to slip a nominee in to replace him. McConnell again ignores the Merrick Garland precedent.
    • In early 2021, especially if Democrats take the Senate, Justice Ginsberg announces her retirement at the end of the term. Democrats easily confirm a nominee (Garland?) to replace her. Soon after, or at the latest in the following term, Justice Breyer announces his retirement, allowing another easy win for Democrats. Replacements are in their 50s, setting up a long-term hold on those seats.
    • Questions begin to surround Thomas pertaining to age and time on the Court. There is a real possibility that a Democratic president gets three appointments in the first term, leading to a massive shift of the Court's philosophy.
    • President submits a long list of judicial appointees, enough to fill all of the available open positions. Senate has their work cut out for them, doesn't clear the backlog until 2022.
    • Democratic senators may be helped by massive data dumps by the White House of call transcripts, memos, and other information about the Trump administration. A couple of Republican senators up in 2022 decide that it's not worth the fight after something comes to light so bad it makes Ukraine look like an actual perfect call and find health and family reasons to decline to run.
Whatever happens, the news won't get quiet again until at least 2024.
If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

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Re: 2020-21 US Political Possibilities

Post by Deacon » Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:55 pm

The ranked-choice voting experiment in Maine is fascinating and fills me with giddy anticipation. I will be watching that closely!
Martin Blank wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:22 pm
I foresee not a president chastened but a president emboldened.
Well, yeah. The rest of your analysis is awesome and insightful, but when the senate doesn't even pretend to hold a trial, and his admirers only cling to him harder, he sees nothing but blue skies ahead. This is one of those rare cases where if you were to look up "recalcitrant" in the dictionary, it wouldn't be surprising to see a picture of his smug mug as a golden example.
I foresee nine months of turmoil until the November election, during which we'll learn ever more about his activities, especially as there's no stopping John Bolton's book from coming out, whether in printed or leaked form. Someone will leak it, and maybe someone in the House or Senate will have it entered into the record so anyone can read it for free.
Turmoil, sure, but what has this entire unending fiasco of a presidency been if not a continual stream of chaos and tumult? Love him or hate him, you can't describe him as calm, cool, collected, and thoughtful. Even Jerry Springer would at least pretend to have a thoughtful moment at the end of his circus trash show, but we don't even pretend anymore in the White House. I can't imagine anyone no matter their political leanings legitimately imagined this strutting narcissist would "learn his lesson" by getting off scot-free and only further cementing his invincible god status in the eyes of his adoring fans.

And it still won't matter to those who love him. His status is such that he can literally do no wrong that will prevent them from loving him. He called it himself, publicly, when he said he could shoot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and no one would care. Hell, Dershowitz would say that he shall not be held responsible, because anything a president does, no matter what, must by definition be considered to be in the national interest and thus untouchable. And that's been the key--the only key--to Trump's election and support from the swamp he keeps filling. There's no reaching across the aisle, uniting the country, any of that kind of stuff. His hope is that his roots are planted so firmly in the hearts and minds of his supporters, that reality becomes whatever he says it is, and that it's enough to get him sufficient Electoral College delegates to keep on truckin'. He could act out the entire worst version of The Aristocrats joke that you've ever heard, and he'd be met with cheers.
I am not in that group that is already thinking that Trump is doomed to defeat in November.
Absolutely not. We're so far beyond reason that it hangs in the balance of people who are only teetering on the edge of madness, who haven't committed fully to the void. It's absolutely feasible that we'll end up with another Trump term.

What it will take to put America back together again after he's done with it if he loses in November, I have no idea. Whether it can be put back together, I have no idea. It's a difficult time to be optimistic and hold out hope for American and put faith in her people.

Someone recently posted on Facebook a plea for people to stop being so blindly partisan, to have empathy and integrity and be good person. But no, it’s more important to stick it to the enemy at all costs. The enemy must be defeated. The enemy hates America and seeks its destruction. America is a zero-sum game to play. No offense, no foul actions or words, no dishonor, no corruption, no facts, no lies, nothing at all is too much to bear as long as it means we retain power and they suck it. I would rather live under an oppressive foreign authoritarian regime than vote my conscience. A conscience is weakness and has no place in public service. I would rather see America under the thumb of such a regime than to be honest with myself about the party I root for and its leaders. I will see America burned to the ground before I concede even the slightest point of clear and self-evident truth that is anything less than flattering to my chosen idol.

I live in Texas. I have many Facebook friends and family, and way too many of them embody that sentiment fully. Separately, I have many who are retired military or even retired DOJ civilians, and they seem fine with the idea of supporting whoever is in charge, either way, even the ones who don't survive on a steady intravenous feed of Fox News and Russian troll Facebook shares.

I came of age mostly in the late Bush Sr. days, but more so through Clinton's time in office. While I was technically born when Carter was president, I was 9 when the Berlin Wall fell. I have known nothing but partisan vitriol and hatred for our presidents or for those who oppose them. Trump loves to moan and moan about the alleged witch hoax and hold himself up as a martyr under the claim that it's been going on since he staged the event where he came down that "beautiful" escalator, but the reality is his defense attorney Ken Starr and those who came before spent a LONG time digging through every nook and cranny of the Clintons' lives, and when all he could come up with is that he had an affair, Republicans still demanded blood. Everyone I knew hated him. He wasn't a good Christian (oh how Trump has changed things). And then when Dubya stammered his way into office, anyone who opposed him was a terrible person. Obama's presidency made the hatred for Clinton look like a Sunday picnic. Republicans hated him so much for being centrist and level-headed that they rebelled as hard as they could in electing Trump. I don't know what the road looks like from here, but I can't see any way that cooler heads prevail.

Some of you may remember that way back when I joined RLF, I was active in the political section and a hardcore conservative. 2016 marked the first time in my life that I didn't vote for a Republican for president. I had grown away from the religious fundamentalists that make up so much of the party, and then the party took a sharp turn away from me toward a caricature of the very worse things everyone else ever said about Republicans. They stopped even pretending to pay lip service to freedom and small government and went straight for garish nationalist authoritarianism. I still couldn't bring myself to vote for Hillary, which would've been mostly symbolic anyway, but I ended up throwing a fully symbolic vote in for the Libertarian candidate. I cannot foresee a likely future in which I can bring myself to vote for a Republican again. I'm not sure who else that was running might have changed that, maybe Rand Paul, but the wholesale selling out to Trump together with an evolution of my own social and economic views has left me feeling like I just have to shrug, suck it up, vote Democrat, and hope for the best.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: 2020-21 US Political Possibilities

Post by Deacon » Thu Feb 06, 2020 5:44 pm

Gauging from my Facebook feed, support for Trump runs strong despite his actions. Most of it focuses on the hate for Democrats, especially Pelosi after she tore up the printout of her speech, saying she it proves she serves, calling her childish, and so on, and then applauding Trump for going on a another Twitter rampage, not even pretending to maintain a veneer of bipartisanship during the lip service paid to religious fundamentalists at the prayer event, and making up more mocking schoolyard nicknames as he goes. The lack of self-awareness is staggering. There seems to not be a whole lot positive about the strange farce of awarding Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom. This is the kind of thing I’m seeing most.

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The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: 2020-21 US Political Possibilities

Post by Deacon » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:52 pm

Martin Blank wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:22 pm
I foresee not a president chastened but a president emboldened.
Yeah, and his supporters are eating it up.

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The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: 2020-21 US Political Possibilities

Post by Deacon » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:47 am

Emboldened and unbound indeed. And his loyalists continue to cheer for more. We’ll see how deep the desire runs to become a second-rate authoritarian nation.

Trump’s War Against ‘the Deep State’ Enters a New Stage
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/us/p ... ndman.html

He’s been using Twitter and Fox News to turn his loyalist mob against anyone and everyone that he doesn’t think has displayed sufficient loyalty to him over country. Even the judge tasked with sentencing his criminal cohort Roger Stone. I would never have guessed back in 2015 just how fluently Trump speaks social media troll. I think he’s just the right mix of dumb enough to come off as sincerely clueless but smart enough to spin that into a web that’s perfect for catching people who don’t think. About that judge, he asked how she treated Hillary, saying “Just asking!” Its the kind of continual gaslighting that makes me wonder if we will simply reach critical mass and go full Idiocracy or if there’s any chance we can pull out of this tailspin and get back to normal statesman BS and politicking.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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