Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Fall of Theresa May — and Donald Trump?

Following up on the previous post, Andrew Sullivan has a piece in New York Magazine that ought to be cautionary to Republicans, especially those in Congress.  Brexit passed in the UK by a 52 to 48% margin in a low turn out election. Donald Trump lost the popular vote 46 to 48% in a low turn out election and only won the presidency because the Electors of the Electoral College refused to do their duty and vote against a dangerous, malignant, narcissistic demagogue.  As Theresa May found out on Thursday, when the real majority does get out to vote, things can change drastically.  For Republicans, especially amoral sleaze bags like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell need to grasp is that they have ZERO mandate.  Trump/Pence has no mandate despite the lies and braggadocio of Der Trumpenführer.  The true majority of Americans - which excludes evangelical Christians who have become a malignant cancer just as dangerous as Trump - needs to mobilize and  make it clear that our response to Trump's and the GOP's reverse Robin Hood agenda and bows to theocrats is a resounding "No!"  As Sullivan lays out, Trump is worthy of impeachment.  The British have shown us that we can re-correct the course of America.  To do so, Trump and the GOP must be defeated and thrown out of office.  We can start by electing Democrats in November, 2017, in Virginia and New Jersey.  Come, November, 2018, the Republicans need to suffer a bloodbath defeat.  Here are highlights from Sullivan's column:
Just a few months ago, it’s worth remembering, we seemed to be careening to a new and possibly long-lived right-populist era in Anglo-American politics. In the U.S., Donald Trump had stunned the world and his own party Establishment by seizing the nomination of the GOP, and then defeating the overwhelming favorite, Hillary Clinton, to win the presidency. In Britain, a referendum on Brexit had shocked and overturned the British and European Establishments, and dispatched Prime Minister David Cameron to the bucolic shires whence he came.
The uninspiring but dogged Theresa May emerged as Cameron’s successor, after her Tory male rivals had out-machoed and out-plotted each other into mutual destruction. And both Trump and May seemed to have captured a restless, rightist mood in the American and British publics, as Reagan and Thatcher had before them. Trump had endorsed Brexit and May, in turn, had been the first foreign visitor to the White House, desperate for a new U.S.-U.K. trade deal. Although many of us believed that Brexit was understandable but irrational and that Trump was a catastrophe just waiting to unfold, the people of the two countries begged to differ.
Except they didn’t entirely, did they? Trump, it’s always worth recalling, lost the popular vote 46–48 percent. Brexit passed only narrowly, 52–48 percent. Both countries, despite the top-line results, remained deeply divided — riven by the cleavages of globalization and its discontents. And now, it’s clear, the divisions have not evaporated and the opposition has revived, with increasingly robust energy.
This week, Trump slumped to the lowest approval ratings of his term — in the upper-to-mid-30s — while being called a liar by the former head of the FBI. And May was humiliated — there is no other word for it — by the British voters in a snap election. In the wake of Brexit and Trump, the forces of reaction in Europe have also seemed to recede. The far right gained but didn’t triumph in the Netherlands; Le Pen, while winning a historic level of support, faded in the home stretch. And now the British have actually made it conceivable that Jeremy Corbyn — the most left-wing leader in the history of the Labour Party, a sympathizer with Hamas and the IRA, and an old-school “unelectable” hard-line socialist — could be prime minister in the not-so-distant future. There were some specific American parallels to May’s defeat that are worth noting. She ran an Establishment campaign shockingly like Hillary Clinton’s in an era when populism can swing in all sorts of unlikely directions. She began with the presumption that she would coast to victory because her opponent was simply unelectable, extremist, and obviously deplorable in every way. She decided to run a campaign about her, rather than about the country. She kept her public appearances to small, controlled settings, while Corbyn drew increasingly large crowds at outdoor rallies. She robotically repeated her core argument that she represented “strong, stable leadership,” with little else to motivate or inspire voters. She chose to run solely on Brexit — and the hardest of Brexits on offer — while Labour unveiled a whole set of big-spending, big-borrowing, big-government policies that drew a million new younger voters to the polls. And on the critical issue of Brexit, she underestimated the ambivalence in the country as a whole. She mistook 52 percent for a national consensus. In London and the Southeast in particular, those who voted Remain in the referendum — or who intended to but didn’t — came out in force to oppose a hard Brexit. The millennials actually turned up this time. In a student town like Cambridge, for example, the Labour majority went from 599 to more than 12,000 — a staggering leap. Labour, moreover, shrewdly didn’t run to reverse Brexit, and were thereby able to siphon off some pro-Brexit working-class voters from the swiftly collapsing UKIP.
What all this means now that Article 50 has been triggered to kick off the Brexit process is anyone’s guess. But among those celebrating last night were surely Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and the EU elite. This could put Brexit back in play, and certainly destroys May’s credibility in the looming negotiations. It’s therefore a near certainty now that she will be gone in short order.
A possible replacement: the young lesbian leader of the Tories in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, whose success north of the border may well have kept the Tories from an even worse result. And that, indeed, was another surprise: the parties in Scotland that favor keeping the union with England won twice as many votes as the Scottish Nationalist Party. This was a vote for keeping the entire country together and for less of a rush to get out of the EU (and even perhaps a second referendum). It was a populist wave … for the recent past.
The populism we’ve seen bolster the right, in other words, is a fickle beast. . . . . But what it has been able to do is to tip Britain into an unexpected political impasse, to give it a parliament where the Tories will not be able to sustain a reliably pro-Brexit majority for very long, and to make it all but certain that another election will at some point have to be called, possibly in the fall. What the result of that will be is something I will not safely predict until the morning after — except that Corbyn will be running, and May won’t.
And there was a lovely resonance, don’t you think, that this shocking reversal for right-populism came on the very same day that President Trump was definitively shown to be more than worthy of impeachment. I’ve long been a skeptic of some of the darkest claims about his campaign’s alleged involvement with the Russian government — and possible evidence thereof — but I’m not skeptical at all of the idea that he has clearly committed a categorical abuse of his presidential power in his attempt to cover it up.
This sobering reality was not advanced by the Comey hearings yesterday, riveting though they were. We have long known that Trump colluded with the Russian government to tilt the election against his opponent — because he did so on national television during the campaign, urging the Kremlin to release more hacked Clinton emails to help him win. We also know that he fired FBI Director James Comey in order to remove the cloud of the Russian investigation from his presidency — because Trump said so on national television himself and then boasted about it to two close Putin lackeys in the Oval Office!
What else do we really need to know?
Or look at it this way: We now have a witness of long public service, clear integrity, with contemporaneous memoranda and witnesses, who just testified under oath to the president’s clear attempt to obstruct justice. Any other president of any party who had been found guilty of these things would be impeached under any other circumstances. Lying under oath about sexual misconduct is trivial in comparison. So, for that matter, is covering up a domestic crime. Watergate did not, after all, involve covering up the attempt of the Kremlin to undermine and corrode the very core of our democratic system — free and fair elections.
[I]f this were a Democrat in power, almighty hell would have already been unleashed. We wouldn’t be mulling impeachment. It would already be well under way.
The “defenses” of the president are telling. . . . The Speaker of the House then tried this one on: “The president’s new at this. He’s new to government and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this.” Excuse me? Someone who assumes the office of the presidency without knowing that we live under the rule of law, and who believes that the president can rig the legal and investigative system to his own benefit, has no business being president at all.
Imagine how many other functionaries, less established and far weaker and less pliable than Comey, will acquiesce to abuse of this kind, if it is ignored, enabled, or allowed to continue. . . . He [Trump]will say or do anything — and yes, lie through his teeth repeatedly — to obscure the reality in front of our eyes. But we need to be clear about something. If we let an abuse of power of this magnitude go unchallenged, we have begun the formal task of dismantling our system of government.
Do we Americans have sufficient integrity to do this, and to reverse the drastic error we all so recently made? Maybe the British have just showed us that, yes, we can.

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