Time for Republicans to move on from Trump


Donald Trump’s suspend-the-Constitution post, which has to rank among the most lunatic and unworthy things he’s ever said, had Republicans squirming on Sunday shows. There’s a better way wide open to the party. All it has to do is have the basic instinct for self-preservation, and the requisite fortitude and self-respect, to say “No, thanks” to keeping itself in this abysmal position for the duration.

Trump has been on a political suicide mission for a while now, but despite all his efforts he still has some substantial (if slipping) amount of political support. His biggest mistake up until now was to attack popular winners like Kemp and DeSantis. But apparently, the loss of support stemming from those mistakes was insufficient to knock himself out of the running for president.

Apparently, that seems to bother him. Like his friend Kanye “Ye” West, Trump has decided to see how insane he can act before his support collapses entirely.

It’s like a social science experiment with 350 million participants. Researchers are asking: just how batshit crazy does a person have to be to lose 95% of their fans? For some reason, Trump has decided to participate as the experimental subject.

Trump’s latest foray into losing all support and credibility is his attack on the Constitution itself. Like, literally, calling for the suspension of the Constitution in order to reinstall him as President of the United States.


Let’s look at this both politically and ethically and think about what he is saying.

There are several obvious things about Trump’s statement that are simply politically stupid. Like, really really stupid. Assuming there were no legal or ethical barriers to either calling a new election or suspending the Constitution (stay with me here, I know that is insane!), it is still politically stupid.

America is facing huge economic problems, international problems, and huge internal divisions that are tearing the country apart. Nobody but a small fringe wants to re-litigate the 2020 elections. Not only is that intuitively obvious, the 2022 midterm elections put an exclamation point on that fact. Candidates that looked back to the 2020 elections lost, those who looked forward to solving problems won.

Imagine having an ad hoc presidential campaign or an effective coup in the midst of all the challenges we face. Our friends and adversaries would see a weak, divided America and international chaos would ensue. It would be a disaster. The world economy would be shaken far more than it is. It would be a crisis of enormous proportions.

Nobody wants that, except a few people who want to tear it all down. Trump would get creamed in an election–blamed for making things so much worse than they are.

Americans are done with 2020. Old news. Both election fraud and January 6th are in the rear-view mirror politically.

So politically Trump is tossing a grenade into the country. Few people want to see it explode.

There is no legal basis for anything Trump has suggested. None. Zip. Nada. That is why he is suggesting suspending all legalities in the first place.

Basically, he is saying that in order to fix things we have to destroy everything. This is literally how Caesar came to power. Caesar never asserted that the Roman Republic was over; theoretically, all the same safeguards remained in place. Merely suspended during his dictatorship.

Yeah, right. Once you toss it all out, it’s gone. In order to accomplish what Trump is advocating you would need a coup. Nobody in power today–not the Courts, not Congress, and certainly not the Executive Branch–would even think of establishing a legal basis for a new election or installation of Trump as the legitimate winner, even if it were possible.

So the only way to do what Trump is demanding is a coup. Goodbye America.

Yeah, no.

Also–stay with me here–doing what Trump is suggesting is exactly the opposite of the Oath of Office. You know, that binding, giving your word thing? That makes you legitimate? That you swore on the Bible to uphold?

This isn’t just some promise you make with your fingers crossed behind your back. This is literally key to your legitimacy–the promise to obey the rules, even when you dislike them or hate the outcome. It’s why we accept decisions we abhor in a democracy.

If we could just ignore the laws and rules we dislike democracy really does die.

For me, the only question that matters about a politician is will they make the country better? Do the right thing as much as possible? Be better than the other person?

Well, tossing out the Constitution doesn’t make the country better. It blows it up.

I don’t see how Trump doesn’t lose even more support after this outburst. For those of us who are political geeks the temptation is to scream “this is it!,” but I doubt that is exactly true. Most people are not process oriented. They support Trump because they were better off under his leadership than Biden’s. They think he is on their side, and the other side is terrible.

I have often used the Roman Empire as an analogy to the US because the parallels are compelling. Our troubles in recent decades mirror in important ways the troubles of the late Republic era in Rome.

Well, we know how that ended. Caesar. Then Augustus, who was a pretty good emperor, and then total disaster. Caesar’s short dictatorship and its end were fatal to the Republic. Rome persisted but did not become better. It became worse in the most important way–liberty for its citizens.

It’s not that the Republic wasn’t flawed or was entirely free–it wasn’t. That is the nature of human life. But the flaws corrected by naming an Emperor were supplanted by flaws infinitely worse. Dictatorship is bad, and everybody knows that.

I think that most Americans will recoil at Trump’s outburst. I certainly did. And while many will indulge in an impulse to defend him because they have liked him, their zeal to do so will diminish over time. How much effort will most people want to put into defending the indefensible?

Trump is becoming like Kanye. Saying more and more outrageous things, driving their support down to a hardcore group who will bear any humiliation.

I can’t defend Trump’s call to toss out the Constitution (or any legal procedures that pass Court muster).

And I won’t.

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