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Shooting the Monster

The election of Donald Trump made perfect sense to me, as someone who watches the American Political Theater with interest from a Canadian Perspective.

I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub. — Grover Norquist, NPR, 2001

First, let’s be blunt, it was entirely clear from the tone of the American political discourse during the years of President Obama, that the two things that a substantial portion of the US electorate could not abide by were a powerful black man or a self-confident woman.  The eight years that the Democrats held the White House, the Republicans systematically refused bi-partisan discourse with an eye to improving the Union.  From what I could see from here, the last thing that the GOP wanted was a repeat performance of the President Clinton years where the only thing that broke the win streak was Clinton’s perjury, which gave the Republicans a shoe-in on the next election.

The Republican party is best defined, in the last third of the 20th Century and the first third of the 21st as “The Party of Not A Democrat”.  It is hard to really pin down what they stand for, by looking at their actions alone.  When combined with the horrific “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court decision, it seems to me that the GOP has become the political equivalent of a mercenary unit.  The only thing that matters are the contents of the party coffers and the wants of the patron.

Donald Trump, of course, was the perfect monster.  He was the antithesis of everything that President Obama and a possible President H.R.Clinton represented.  It was self-evident, to me at least, that the tacit permission that the Republican top-brass gave to Donald Trump, in spite of a series of otherwise unforgivable gaffs, missteps and scandals, was based entirely on the idea that he was an exciting, charismatic “Anti-Obama” that could unify the right under the banner of “we all hate Obama’s legacy.”

Sir Richard Branson, of the “Virgin” brand, was famously quoted by CNCBC in October of 2017 as saying:

I met Trump in the 1990s, and all he talked about was destroying people who wouldn’t help one of his bankrupt businesses — Sir Richard Branson

Donald Trump has a mean streak, a penchant for revenge, and President Obama had publicly lampooned him at a public event.  I would argue there is at least strong circumstantial evidence that if it was consciously part of Donald Trump’s calculus, it certainly had an impact on the Republican leadership.  For better or for worse, the Republicans have learned in the past that star-power translates to votes, which translates to political power.

We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it … Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. — Grover Norquist, February 2012.

The Republican plan for the Federal election, it would seem, was to find a candidate that had a significant enough public aura already that would propel him to victory, and would do what he was told once he was in the Oval Office.  The problem with Trump, of course, is that he was famously mercurial.  However, there was a reasonable solution to this potential problem;  the Vice-President succession.

If the President either resigns, dies, or is removed from office, the Vice-President takes over without an election.  As far as I know, is a Cold War-era construct, to ensure that the country could not be decapitated in the time of war.  It may be older than that;  please let me know.

Vice-President Mike Pence is as much the anti-Trump as Donald Trump is the anti-Obama.  Pence is a solid Beltway insider, a religious conservative and staunch economic conservative with many of the opinion that he is a “Prosperity Gospel” proponent.  With Mike Pence’s addition to the candidate list, the Republican National Committee’s plan seemed rather obvious to me.

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Published inInternational Politics

One Comment

  1. Warren R. Edge Warren R. Edge

    The 25th Amendment which supersedes the original succession articles in the US Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 6) was ratified in 1967, after first being proposed in 1960, and written up between 1963 and 1965.

    It was both for the succession of the VP as well as the President that they had to re-do it; it had been a problem since the 1841, when John Tyler took over from William Henry Harrison and the precedent was set….even though the Constitution really didn’t say it should be done the way it was.

    Check the Wikipedia article on the Amendment for the basic lowdown.

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