April 5, 2017 8 Comments
Chait makes the good case for, “well, yeah, actually.” Now, all this is predicated on Trump totally not ruining everthing– honestly, a real possibility. But, if Trump is just run-of-the-mill awful, there’s a strong case to be made that the Democratic party is way better off in 2020 than if Hillary had been elected. Chait:
Imagine what the political world would look like for Republicans had Hillary Clinton won the election. Clinton had dragged her dispirited base to the polls by promising a far more liberal domestic agenda than Barack Obama had delivered, but she would have had no means to enact it. As the first president in 28 years to take office without the benefit of a Congress in her own party’s hands, she’d have been staring at a dead-on-arrival legislative agenda, all the low-hanging executive orders having already been picked by her predecessor, and years of scandalmongering hearings already teed up. The morale of the Democratic base, which had barely tolerated the compromises of the Obama era and already fallen into mutual recriminations by 2016, would have disintegrated altogether. The 2018 midterms would be a Republican bloodbath, with a Senate map promising enormous gains to the Republican Party, which would go into the 2020 elections having learned the lessons of Trump’s defeat and staring at full control of government with, potentially, a filibuster-proof Senate majority.
Heck, as Nate Cohn responded to this in a tweet,
And, yes, Trump will do some very real damage, but Chait paints the optimistic case here:
Trump won the presidency by running a campaign that went far beyond the usual sunshine every president sells on the campaign trail. Trump’s populist vision collapsed every policy dilemma into a simple question of negotiating skill that he could solve easily and painlessly. Trump has few clear paths to bolster his popularity while holding together his partisan base. Building the wall will be difficult and time-consuming. Renegotiating Nafta in a dramatically favorable way, as Michael Grunwald explains, is probably impossible. Republican standbys like cutting taxes for the rich and loosening regulations on Wall Street and greenhouse gases are feasible, but all deeply unpopular. All those achievements would also be easily reversible in a way Obama’s biggest policy accomplishments were not. The tax cuts will almost certainly have to expire automatically after a decade. Trump’s deregulatory agenda will be reversed by the next Democratic president…
Trump mortgaged everything to win the election by making promises that he lacked any remotely practical plan to fulfill. The gains for him and his party will be scant, and the political costs of obtaining them high…
And Trump is not a shrewd politician. A string of horrifying leaks has depicted a man far too mentally limited to do his job competently. The president is too ignorant of policy — he simply agrees with whomever he spoke with last — to even conduct basic policy negotiations with friendly members of Congress who want him to succeed. Nor does Trump know enough to even identify competent people to whom he can delegate his work. He’s a rank amateur who listens and delegates to other amateurs…
And Trump is not a shrewd politician. A string of horrifying leaks has depicted a man far too mentally limited to do his job competently. The president is too ignorant of policy — he simply agrees with whomever he spoke with last — to even conduct basic policy negotiations with friendly members of Congress who want him to succeed. Nor does Trump know enough to even identify competent people to whom he can delegate his work. He’s a rank amateur who listens and delegates to other amateurs.
Now, sure, there’s a lot of “ifs” in here, but the basic logic– especially of what we could have expected politically during an HRC presidency is pretty sound. Even when I was confident she was going to win, I was also really, really worried she’s be a one-term president.
So, are we better off with Trump as president? Sure, seems crazy to say, “yes.” But, if he is only awful (for which he is clearly on track for), rather than colossally bad, in four years, the answer may well be yes.