When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, he did so based on a misogynistic, racist, nativist, unilateralist, and far-right campaign. Yet many would still hold out hope that the reality of his presidency would not be as bad as it seemed based on his campaign. To these people, there was still hope, and they thought many of these possibilities could be true, so they believed that the future of Trump’s presidency would depend on these questions:
- Would Trump pivot to the center and govern as a more conventional politician?
- Would the “adults in the room” within Trump’s administration contain him?
- Would Congressional Republicans contain him?
- Would other checks and balances like the courts and foreign policy/military/intelligence establishments contain him?
Now, on the precipice of midterms congressional elections, the answer to the first three questions are a resounding “no” and to the last one is a meager “meh, guess so”. Let’s look at them one by one.
Trump himself has definitely not become a more conventional and less dangerous politician. He has pursued his worst policies, his foreign policy being especially dangerous, continuing his attack on minorities and free press, continuing his radical rhetoric, and indulging in his fascistic impulses.
There are no adults left in the room. Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, and HR McMaster have all left, and John Kelly have proven to be as bad as Trump. The only “adults” left are James Mattis and to a lesser extent Steve Mnuchin, but there’s no question that they are isolated. Instead, dangerous radicals such as Steve Miller, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Rudy Giuliani have taken over. There’s no hope left that Trump’s own cabinet might restrain him.
Congressional Republicans have chosen to bow down to Trump and fall in line rather than fight back against him. Some of Trump’s former critics like Lindsey Graham have turned into sycophants and now embrace his worst impulses, and others who voice criticisms against him occasionally, from Paul Ryan to Ben Sasse to Jeff Flake, have never gone beyond rhetoric to force Trump into some moderation by using their power, from protecting Mueller’s investigation to using their power to reject his extreme appointees. Furthermore, in primary elections the “Trumpian” candidates have completely wiped the floor and therefore we know that the Republican party is completely overtaken by Trump and that there is no hope that they might provide some checks on him.
Now, there has been some checks from major political establishments, and they are the reasons that utter and complete disaster has not taken place yet, but there’s no guarantee that the same will be true until 2020. Trump has already conquered the Supreme Court, he is rapidly appointing judges at other levels, and he has all but decimated the foreign policy establishment. If he has another two years of unified government, he might very well completely conquer the judiciary, and foreign policy, military, and intelligence apparatuses as well.
All of these facts, and especially the Republicans’ unwillingness to restrain Trump, leaves us with no choice but to conclude that only a divided government will be able to stop or slow Trump in his authoritarian tracks. A Democratic senate will be unwilling to appoint the worst of Trump’s appointees, and a Democratic House would stop him from going to war with Iran, or it’d protect Mueller’s investigation, or force him to move to center a bit. Without a Democratic Congress, there will be no real checks on Trump.
That’s why I implore all Americans to vote for Democrats in the upcoming congressional elections. An unrestrained Trump is not merely an American problem, but a global threat. An unrestrained Trump might dismantle the very fabric of international system. That’s why we — as all citizens of the world — need you to vote for Democrats and create a real restrain on Trump, to minimize this threat.
Trump’s strategy to win the midterms has been to be openly fascist. He has attacked birthright citizenship, the existence of trans people, used racist rhetoric, demonized immigrants, has touted his unjust sanctions on Iran, has used violent rhetoric, and has angered the world. If Trump wins, the message this sends to the world is clear: fascism works. This will have global impact. Only a few weeks ago Jair Bolsonaro, the openly fascist candidate, won Brazil’s presidential election. If Trump relieves a mandate for his far-right agenda, not only he will move faster to dismantle American democracy, this victory will give wing to the rising fascism around the globe.
So, please vote Democrat. It’s not exaggeration to say that the fate of the whole world depends on Trump’s defeat in 2018 midterm elections.