How did all this political warfare start?
(DISCLAIMER for those on the left. I know you turn every military or gun metaphor into literal evidence of your specious mythical ongoing coup attempt, but my use of “warfare” in the title is a metaphor … a METAPHOR. Look it up.)
We can say with some certainty that the current hyper-heated political atmosphere began when Donald J. Trump came down the escalator in Trump Tower after announcing his candidacy for President of the United States.
He was unlike any presidential candidate in American history. He had never held elective office – or even any major appointive office. He was a businessman – but a controversial one. He was a celebrity with a pugnacious and braggadocios personality – a showman, carnival barker, and New York playboy.
He arrived on the scene when the American people were growing increasingly disenchanted with the arrogant and oppressive policies and power of the entrenched Washington establishment – and Trump was about as anti-establishment as a candidate could get.
It was widely assumed that his rancorous theatrics and name-calling would doom him in the Republican primaries. The Huffington Post even reassigned coverage from the political beat to the entertainment beat in a show of contempt. Sam Stein, a Huff Post reporter at the time, said Trump should never be viewed as a serious candidate – that it was all about public relations and fame. Stein has been dining on crow ever since.
Trump won for two reasons. He did tap into the undercurrent of disdain for Washington, but he also had a large field of GOP opponents to divide the vote. Despite later GOP primary victories, Trump never won the votes of a majority of Republican primary voters. I was among the majority who wanted someone else to lead the 2016 Republican ticket. We just could not agree on who that should be. I cast my ballot for Senator Marco Rubio in the Florida primary.
Trump carried his pugnacious carnival barker style into the General Election. Of course, there was no chance a person like him – with all that baggage – could defeat the iconic left-wing feminist icon, Hillary Clinton. Democrats and the radical left started their victory celebrations weeks ahead of the election. After all … Trump had no path to the presidency according to the all-knowing chroniclers of the Fourth Estate. Hillary, they opined, had a political firewall that ran through the Midwest – states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Democrats looked forward to a certainty of victory unprecedented in modern presidential elections.
If Trump took the GOP by surprise in the primary season, he sent the left into apoplectic shock when he crushed through the firewall with victory after victory. On the left and in the media (sorry to repeat myself) there was disbelief, bitterness, anger, and the gnashing of teeth unlike anything in America since the assassination of President Kennedy.
As a result, America witnessed an unprecedented response from the Democrats and the Washington establishment. They declared war (🡨 metaphor) on trump. They let their intentions be known — that they would never … never … never accept Trump as the legitimate President of the United States. They threatened impeachment even before Trump took the Oath of Office – and impeachment bills were entered into Congress days after his inauguration.
Democrats and the media coalesced into what they openly dubbed a “resistance movement.” They declared that Trump must never be “normalized” – meaning never saying anything positive — or praise any of his actions. He was to be under constant fire (🡨 metaphor) from the left, especially the media.
In what may have been a strategic blunder, Trump took on the intelligence/law enforcement establishment in the early days of his administration. He believed – with sufficient justification – that they were willing participants in the “resistance movement.” That they would work to undermine his presidency as a matter of mission. It is also arguable that Trump wanted to protect his own flanks from the investigative services.
This led then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to warn Trump against taking on the intelligence/law enforcement folks. Appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC in 2017, Schumer said that Trump was “really dumb” for taking on the intel agencies. He said: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” (Ponder that. Schumer knew of what he spoke.)
That quote is all but forgotten in the public mind, but I never forgot it. It always struck me as more of a threat than a warning. It may explain a lot of what transpired over the course of the past several years – especially when you consider how FBI Director James Comey and colleagues set up the phony dossier as a pretext for the equally phony Russian conspiracy investigation. We should not forget that Comey admitted under oath that he leaked information (illegally?) to a friend – to pass on to the compliant news media — to trigger the naming of a Special Counsel.
Democrats set a very dangerous precedent in the first impeachment by lowering the bar – using political will rather than a compelling case of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” And a second impeachment after Trump left office – even though removal from office is the primary purpose of impeachment.
Democrats talk a lot about the importance of “traditions, standards, and norms,” but have spent the past few years smashing them based on obsessive Trump hatred. We saw the House Speaker break tradition, standards, and norms by rejecting specific Republican members named by the House Minority for the first time in history. We saw it again when Attorney General Garland ordered a raid on Mar-a-Lago and they ordered the premature release of the Search Warrant – which has never happened in the memory of several former federal prosecutors, who criticized the move.
There is no doubt that the Washington establishment has been – as Schumer predicted – finding “six ways from Sunday” to get back at Trump.
However … that is not to absolve Trump from blame in his own predicament. He has been his own worst enemy. While his style has been popular with a small fraction of the voting public, most Americans find it repugnant. Even many who voted for him because the alternative was worse, do not approve of his methods and style.
And style leads to substance. Had he not been so pugnacious and belligerent, he might have built on the plurality of voters who got him the requisite number of Electoral College votes to win the 2016 presidential election. Had Trump relied on persuasion instead of political pugilism, the GOP might have held on to the House in 2018. He might have won the 2020 presidential election by a wide enough margin to eliminate the controversy – and actually, win re-election.
His post-2020 election behavior played a role in the loss of both Senate seats in Georgia – giving Democrats control of the Senate. And we can see what a trainwreck that has become for conservative governance, limited government, and personal freedom.
Finally, there is now the question of criminality. There are a lot of accusations in the media – the court-of-public opinion. They matter in terms of future elections, but not a diddly damn in terms of establishing actual criminality. That will be up to the Department of Justice and local prosecutors.
Some readers seem to believe that I am a big defender of Trump. Not so. I have expressed many times my dislike of his personality – and my concern over the negative impact it has had on the Republican Party and the conservative movement. On the other hand, I have been surprisingly pleased with the conservative agenda Trump pursued from the White House.
I have liked most of his appointments – especially to the Supreme Court. I find when I list my favorite accomplishments, most folks – conservative or liberal – like many of them. It is just a matter of bringing them back to the attention of people since the biased Trump-hating media refuses to recognize them. It is that old “resistance movement” that refuses to say ANYTHING good about Trump and what he accomplished as President.
So far, Trump has not been indicted or found guilty of any crime. According to American legal tradition, that makes him an innocent man regardless of the accusations of his enemies. Whether he will get indicted in the future or convicted of crimes – large or small – is merely a matter of conjecture.
Personally, it does not make a lot of difference if he is charged and found guilty since I am among those who hope he will not run for President – and most certainly will not return to the White House. I do not want to again be faced with voting for him as the lesser of two evils – or the least dangerous candidate in terms of the future of the nation.
But if he is to be charged and convicted of anything, it should be based on the facts … the evidence … and the judgment of 12 of his peers in a venue in which a defense can be presented – not based on politically motivated indictments achieved through prosecutorial abuses. That is all in the future, subject only to our speculations – and we are a long way from any final verdicts on Trump’s behavior.
I cannot say with any certainty that Trump will not ultimately wind up convicted of some crime, but I do not believe it will be the many of the crimes for which he stands guilty in the eye of the left-wing media – nor the gravity of any crimes. He has the benefit of the rule-of-law and the jury system. I doubt Trump will spend any time in jail.
Many of those accusations will fade away as have so many of the left’s previous claims of criminality. They claim that Trump keeps getting away with crimes when they might consider that it is their opinion-based accusations that fall short of the law.
Many allege that Trump is undermining the American Republic. In my opinion, not as much as the radical authoritarian policies of the Democratic Party and its current leaders. That is why – when given only two choices – I will vote for Trump over any Democrats I see on the horizon.
Do I make myself clear? I do not admire Trump, the man. I do not want him back in the White House. And I do not want to be forced to vote for him as the binary choice against the oppressive big government policies of the elitist’s Democrats – that I find much more dangerous in the long run.
It is easier to understand where we are when we can better understand how we got here.
So, there ‘tis.