Speculative fiction about the impending Republican Party nomination of Donald Trump for President.
A TLP reader recently asked me to write a post about what will happen if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. The result is this post, which is the first entry in what may soon become a popular genre of amateur, speculative fiction that I call “hatefic” – it’s like fanfic, but for stuff you hate. And I don’t hate much the way I hate contemporary Republican party politicians, operators, operatives, and donors.
Just to be clear: this post is a volatile mixture of accurate history, reality-based predictions, and wild, fantastic speculations. Bonus: Scroll to the bottom and play the YouTube video for an entirely appropriate soundtrack for the 2016 GOP primary.
Welcome to the Nixonian End Times
I throw up in my mouth a little bit any time someone unironically refers to the GOP as the “Party of Lincoln.” It stopped being the party of Lincoln before the Depression, people. In the 70s, it became the party of Nixon, who built a coalition of intellectual conservatives, business interests, and all the white people that need to be dragged kicking, screaming, and crying into a future that is better for us all. It is this Nixonian coalition that is coming apart right in front of us, with Donald Trump essentially leading a revolt of the party’s voters against the party’s donors. Josh Marshall at TPM put it brilliantly in a recent post to his Editor’s Blog, which unfortunately defies quotation, so I encourage you to read it in full. Jonathan Chait is also an excellent source of information and perspective on the collapse of the modern GOP.
The Republican coalition that Nixon built seems to be experiencing the end of its world, brought on by Trump. If he is to be stopped, it will have to be (very) soon, so this may be the last days to really be able to speculate about this. Also he probably won’t be stopped, so let’s prepare ourselves. How will Trump win the nomination? How will the Republicans fall apart around him as a nominee? What happens if Trump is elected President? Let’s consider all of these in turn.
How will Trump win the nomination?
There are two ways Trump can win the GOP nomination. First, and this is looking ever more likely each day, Trump could simply win an outright majority of delegates during the primaries. This means that when the convention gets going this summer, the delegates there will have no choice but to nominate Trump on their first ballot.
If Trump does not win an outright majority of delegates – because maybe Ted Cruz pulls off his creepy mask to reveal a likable face underneath, or even less likely if Marco Rubio suddenly turns into a strong candidate – then the GOP convention will not produce a nominee on the first ballot, legally releasing the delegates to vote for whoever they want on the second and later ballots. This would be very exciting, but also unlikely to happen. Even more unlikely is that Trump somehow wins one of these later ballots, simply because the people that keep booing him at debates are also the people that are nominating delegates at the GOP convention. Awkward! What I can imagine happening, though, is that Trump doesn’t win all the delegates he needs, but nobody else comes close, and enough GOP establishment folks have endorsed Trump by this point that he is nonetheless able to prevail in a floor fight with Ted Cruz – who is even more hated by the GOP establishment than Trump – and Marco Rubio, who by then would be best known as the asshat that couldn’t even take down Trump. Trump winning a floor fight for the nomination is also more likely if he makes it clear that the alternative is a third-party candidacy.
How will the Republican Party fall apart around nominee Trump?
For years now, we have watched this party eschew all social and political norms in favor of relentless obstruction and never-ending lies, all meant to advance a completely unrealistic policy platform (you can’t massively cut taxes, increase military spending, and balance the budget at the same time; you just can’t). So here is how I think these nutjobs will turn on themselves (and probably already are) if and when Trump is nominated.
First, the 2020 candidates will start running for President before the convention. I think Christie is already doing this. His endorsement of Trump has been interpreted as angling for a cabinet post (attorney general) or even Vice-President. I don’t think Christie actually wants to be Trump’s number two and I don’t think he wants to lead Trump’s fight against the first amendment and the press. No, Christie wants to be the inheritor of Trump’s followers in 2020, and that is what his endorsement is about. Similarly, I think Rubio, Cruz, and anybody else waiting in the wings will start jockeying for 2020 position instead of trying to help Trump win in 2016. They’ll tell themselves that Clinton is only electable because of Trump (wrong, but whatever) and that definitely for sure she is unreelectable, and so Cruz will encourage his flock to stay home, Christie will “help” Trump the same way he helped Romney (which is to say, promoting himself at the candidate’s expense), and Rubio will… …shit, I don’t know… …Rubio will drink a lot of water and do what the donors tell him to do, which will likely involve politely declining to be involved in the campaign, neither endorsing nor disavowing Trump as the nominee. But that is so totally not even the best part!
This is the best part: One of the less written about problems with the idea of Democrats nominating Senator Sanders for President would also very much apply to the Republicans nominating Trump: How do House and Senate candidates campaign with a nominee that has basically made his bones by calling them corrupt? What would that even sound like? To wit: “It’s great to be here, folks, really great, so great, it’s beautiful, all of you, here with Congressman Doe, who has been a loser and been lying to you, but he is going to be such a winner once I am President, he is going to win so much with me, you won’t believe it. We are gonna have the best Congress ever and we are going to win again, if you vote for me and re-elect Rep Doe who has been so much a part of the prior losing.” And this is all assuming Trump keeps his current persona, tailored for the GOP primary, in the general election. What if Trump cinches the nomination and then remembers he is pro-choice, pro-universal-healthcare, and wants to do something about climate change? What the fuck are down-ballot GOP candidates going to do then? We have one clue with Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader and first Turtle-American elected to national office, who has already told Senate colleagues that in the event of a Trump nomination, their strategy will be to campaign for continued GOP control of the Senate as a check against the power of a President Clinton. They will essentially be running against their own nominee by basing their campaign on the assumption that he will lose. But at least one GOP Senator has endorsed Trump, so how will this work if they’re fractured? It’s going to be so messy.
Last, but not least, the GOP donor class comes to mind. These are the guys who brag to the press about how many tens of millions of dollars they are going to spend to influence the campaign, plus all the guys who do the same thing anonymously. What will they do? Some of them will prefer Trump to Clinton, some of them will prefer Clinton to Trump, and some of them may have a whole other agenda – like hitting both Trump and Clinton to promote the idea of a GOP congress as the only solution. Could we see a massive, billion dollar right-wing SuperPAC melee? Maybe!
It really is going to be a political cacophony and I am truly excited to watch it unfold. Of course my excitement is based on the conviction that Trump cannot win a general election in the United States, which brings us to the truly unthinkable…
What happens if Donald Trump is elected President?
Forgive me, but I just don’t think it can happen – even if Clinton is nominated by the Democrats and then gets indicted the next day, I think she beats Trump in November. Don’t believe me? Look at this tweet from Nate Silver, which should put Trump’s political ascent into perspective:
Share of voting-eligible population to have voted Trump:
A few passionate supporters can go a LONG way.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 28, 2016
Trump is pulling the support of fewer people than believe the moon landing was faked. Do you think the theory that we faked the moon landing can win a general election? Neither do I. With this comforting, if fallacious, reasoning in mind, I speculate two potential outcomes to the nearly-impossible event of Trump’s election as President of the United States:
First, more likely, the end of our Republic. The military would not follow illegal orders by Commander in Chief Trump (e.g. (intentionally) murdering the families of terrorists), which some fools with TV shows would call a coup (see: Maher, Bill) even though it is just them doing their job. Congress would likely be split in this scenario, GOP control of the house and Democrat control of the Senate (or at least a large enough minority to bring Senate business to a halt), so it is unlikely any bills could get to the President’s desk. It is also unlikely the Democrats would back impeachment before Trump had totally, completely destroyed the GOP brand. The Democrats – and maybe even some Republicans – would block any Trump judicial appointments, so we have a permanently deadlocked Supreme Court and increasingly understaffed federal judiciary (which is already not in great shape). And the press, having aided and abetted Trump’s rise via 15 months of unlimited free publicity, will have lost whatever credibility it has left in America. That is pretty much all of our institutions in the shitter, right? Did I miss anything?
Second, less likely, President Trump inadvertently begins the dawn of a new age of human collaboration, love, and understanding. In this scenario, all of that stuff above at least starts to happen, but Americans and the whole world basically experience Trump as something like an alien invasion: We thought we were separated by so many things, but really life is precious and fragile and we are all in this together… …except President Trump, he has to go. A peaceful revolt, protected if not outright backed by the US military, marches into Washington D.C. and stages a massive sit-in until Trump resigns. Every nation destroys its stockpile of nuclear weapons, because we always knew they were dangerous but with the possibility of someone like Trump firing them, they simply have to go. Education and mental healthcare become world-wide recognized rights for all people – so that no one will ever be stupid or crazy enough to vote for someone like Trump again. Borders are abolished and the right of all peoples to move freely is recognized, just to make sure immigration can’t be demagogued again. A global redistribution of wealth and privilege is enacted by newly elected World Co-Presidents Sanders and Obama, to make sure that no group of people is ever so desperate again as to nominate someone like Trump. And as for Trump himself, he is banished from the planet, leading NASA and the ESA to discover faster-than-light travel just so we can put him somewhere really far away.
In a few short years – if we survive the transition – human beings evolve beyond hatred, resentment, or entitlement. The heavens are open for exploration and settlement, which we will undertake just to make sure some humans somewhere survive any future Trump-like incidents on Earth. Cats and dogs learn to both play and cuddle with each other. Butter never burns in skillets any more and is always soft enough to be spread on toast – even if you forgot to take it out of the fridge! Social media becomes renowned for the grandest of public debates, with the sharpest arguments, made by the best minds among us. End user license agreements become concise and readable. Rainbows are everywhere, but nobody cares because now we all have enough not to want for pots of gold. Peace, loving kindness, and prosperity for all peoples, everywhere. For ever and ever.
So hey, maybe vote Trump? Not to “make America great again,” but to see the paradise that awaits us after all our corrupt institutions are razed down and our shared humanity is raised up.
Click here to see all of TLP’s 2016 election posts.