The Grim Reality of American Politics – The Atlantic

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Many mainstream Republicans have comforted themselves by noting that Trump has no strong or fixed ideology, and as a lifelong dealmaker, is used to some give-and-take. Maybe they are right. But given that he has no understanding of policy or how policy is made, no ties at all to veterans of politics and government, and disdain for all those who have been inside and made those terrible deals, it would be a long, long time before he would or could recognize the reality of governing in a democracy.

These questions, and the most probable answers to them, are enough to make us look for property in Australia. But it remains true that the likelihood of a Trump presidency is slim. That brings us to the other grim reality of American politics, the continuing tribal conflict and division in Washington. If Republicans in Congress can’t help themselves from giving a collective middle finger to the outgoing president, how will they treat a new Democratic president? If Hillary Clinton wins—after the vast majority of Republicans in Congress endorse their presidential candidate by demonizing the alternative, and given the long history of contentiousness between the Clintons and Republicans in Congress—is there any way it can be better?

The answer is maybe, at least in a small way. A Trump loss might finally empower Republican leaders in Congress, including committee leaders who want to recapture their party and brand it as a problem-solving conservative party, to find areas to work with the new president, at least for a while before the permanent campaign and the midterm imperative take over again. If a President Clinton chooses early priorities wisely, she might be able to help a few over the finish line, in areas like infrastructure and tax reform. Despite the rhetoric of Republicans in Congress, many in the Senate have had very good personal and professional relationships with Clinton from her time there, and she showed a strong grasp of the legislative process when she was in the Senate. And Clinton would be able, through her appointments to executive and judicial positions, to shape a lot of policy, at least incrementally, outside the legislative arena.

But we have to be honest. The near-term future of politics and policy in America is a pretty grim one. Intimidated by the nihilist, nativist pressure from talk radio hosts and bloggers, Republican leaders in Congress are not all that likely to ignore their desires. That may mean continued stonewalling on a Supreme Court seat, leaving a 4-4 Court for a long time (though a Democratic Senate would likely do what it takes to confirm a Clinton nominee). A Trump loss—which he would surely blame on the enemy within—would not mean the demise of a Trump movement or the angry populism behind it, and the driving need by Republicans to recapture their party’s mojo in the midterm would probably have them fall back on the populist approach that worked in 2010 and 2014. So brace yourselves for a rocky road ahead, not just in 2016 but in 2017 and beyond.          




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The Grim Reality of American Politics – The Atlantic