Wednesday, January 10, 2018


So the latest pastime of the chattering classes is speculation about just how unfit for office President Trump is. But while it might be a satisfying hobby, it's not a very useful one at this point.

President Trump can be seen as a reaction to some or all of the eight years that preceded his election, just as President Obama can be seen as a reaction to some or all of the eight years before him. And the people who drove that reaction are going to be very unhappy with things if a way is found to remove President Trump from office. In her Slate column, Dahlia Lithwick points out that the cooperation of Republican members of Congress would be needed, and that it likely isn't forthcoming. And while true, I think that this does sort of look past some people who really do matter in all of this, and that's the Republican electorate.

Regardless of how bad one thinks that President Trump's tenure will be (or already has been) for the nation as a whole, the fact of the matter remains that he was elevated to that office by people who felt that he was their best option. They seem him as someone who is on their side, and are likely to regard a serious move against him as a move against themselves and their interests (even if they don't conflate those interests with those of the nation as a whole). They would have no reason to support a move to oust President Trump from office, and every reason to effectively double down on crisis mode - and it was putting these people into a crisis that lead to President Trump's election in the first place. Any expectation that they're not going to see it as a coup is misguided.

And it's in that sense that the arguing that President Trump is unfit, whether it comes from Left, Right or Center is counterproductive, because it reinforces the paranoid worldview that many Trump voters espoused - that they live in a world governed by élites, who are not only unaccountable to them, but are hatefully plotting against their rights and interests in order to unfairly increase their own power and wealth. One of the ideas that Candidate Trump put forward that resonated with them is the idea that their woes are not the result of changes in the world around them, but were specifically engineered to disempower and impoverish them. And I would be unsurprised to learn that they already regard talk of impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment as yet more élite engineering of events.

And this is where the partisanship of Congressional Republicans comes into play. Given that, for better or for worse, they've hitched their wagons to Donald Trump's star, they have nothing to gain by siding with their political adversaries to oust him. And so all of the talk of President Trump's possible unfitness for office is just that - talk. And it's talk that feeds a serious rift in the nation, rather than bridging it.

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