The sense that our long national nightmare is only beginning is growing.
James Nevius, reporting in Could a third party with actual power be Donald Trump’s next political move? for The Guardian, writes:
Back in August, when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump began consulting with Roger Ailes and hired Breitbart CEO Stephen Bannon to head his campaign, it was widely seen as Trump’s first move in shifting his focus away from actually running for president and instead leveraging his name into a media empire. His son-in-law Jared Kushner’s recent overtures to LionTree, a bank with a history of media investments, has only furthered that speculation.
But what if a Trump News Network is just one part of the master plan? What if, in addition to a new Trump media empire, he’s preparing his followers to coalesce into a brand-new Trump political party?
I have refrained up until now from jumping on the Trump is our Hitler bandwagon, but a Trump political party? Consider who would jump to join. Just as Hitler’s Brown Shirts were not his real power base, so too are the Trumpists tools for real power behind Trump: the One Percent and those seeking to join their ranks.
We don’t need to go to Germany in the 1930s however. We have a model closer to home. Neviusr continues:
Trump has convinced his most ardent supporters that this year’s presidential contest is rigged. Well, in 1876, the election actually was rigged, and the aftermath of that contest sheds light on what could happen in America in the next few years.
The 1876 election pitted New York’s Democratic governor, Samuel J Tilden, against Rutherford B Hayes, the former Republican governor of Ohio. On election night, some southern states, including Florida and Louisiana, tried to throw the election to Hayes, even though it was clear that Tilden was winning. Moreover, when the electoral college met in December, three states submitted fraudulent returns, which meant that neither candidate had a majority. Ultimately, a special Election Commission voted 7-6 along party lines to appoint Hayes to the presidency.
Not surprisingly, there was widespread disgust both with the election and “the seemingly endless procession of scandals emanating from the nation’s capital”. This could easily describe the mood of voters today on both sides of the aisle.
All of this should turn our attention away from 9 November 2016 and toward what we might wake up to on 7 November 2018.
Picture what could happen in 2018 if a Trump Party – its voters fueled by a 24-hour-a-day Trump News Network – makes significant inroads in the House. It will make the Tea Party’s resistance to Barack Obama seem tame by comparison. The Tea Party, at its heart, is about Constitutional originalism and has generally operated within the framework of the Republican party.
A Trump Party will have no such strictures. Since Donald Trump doesn’t seem to understand the Constitution or care about the Republican brand, it’s likely a Trump Party won’t have any qualms about simply blowing up Washington and watching it burn—while all of it is gleefully covered on Trump News.
Yesterday I listened to a podcast of Ralph Nader interviewing Noam Chomsky one a range of topics, but I was particularly taken by Chomsky’s analysis of how protest in the United States over the past 50 years has effectively shifted our political landscape for the better. Chomsky says that while the outcomes have not been what was wanted, the protest were able to bring about much less horrible results than might have been the case if no protests had happened.
A Trump party is not a certainty, but the Trumpists will rise if everyone assumes their a bunch of idiots led by an rascist—they’re not—and does nothing. Neviusr concludes:
Imagine a Trump Party that first makes significant inroads in 2018 in congress, and then runs a presidential candidate in 2020—could this third party candidate restrict Hillary Clinton to just one term? Both Rutherford Hayes and Lyndon Johnson declined to seek renomination. Could a Trump Party make it so difficult for her to govern that she simply throws in the towel?
If that’s the case, Trump will have vaulted himself from being a New York City real estate tycoon to a major figure in American political history. And while politics in Washington will grow even more polarized, Trump’s legacy will be secured, which is the only thing he truly cares about.
We can’t just imagine. We need to act.