Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner calls Trump’s presidency “a complete disaster,” but Trump seems to be holding his core supporters. I try to put myself in the mindset of people who voted for Trump and now or will soon regret it. The 1976 election was a hold-your-breath squeaker, and some people who supported Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford regretted their vote, feeling that he was a weak president and his accomplishments were minimal. They felt, in retrospect, the country would have been better off with the moderate Republican Ford, and then a Democrat with a truly progressive agenda (like Edward Kennedy) would have come roaring back in 1980, sparing the party huge congressional losses in 1978 and 1980, in reaction to Carter’s hapless and ineffectual presidency, and sparing the nation the truly conservative and transformative presidency of Ronald Reagan.
In 1992, George H.W. Bush’s agenda wasn’t all that different from Bill Clinton’s. Bush was in ways the victim of a series of unfortunate events, and Clinton was just darn lucky he wasn’t blown out of the water by multiple sex scandals. Electing GHW Bush instead of Bill Clinton would have spared the nation 1) Clinton’s neo-liberal triangulation with the Democratic Congress, including what in retrospect were heartless laws such as stiff mandatory-minimum sentences for drug offenders; and a cruel welfare-reform package; 2) Republicans winning the House in 1994 for the first time since 1946; 3) a trip into the gutter with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Al Gore would surely have followed GHW Bush by becoming president in 1996, winning against next-in-line-for-the-Republicans, Bob Dole, and could have served through 2004, possibly sparing the nation the Iraq debacle.
If Bill Clinton had resigned in 1998, as he was almost forced to do by Democratic leadership in Congress, Gore would have assumed the presidency and quite possibly won re-election in 2000, again possibly sparing the nation the Iraq debacle.
No telling what it will take for Trump voters to see the error of their ways…It will be a long time, if ever before they acknowledge that the hated Hillary Clinton would have been a better president than Donald Trump, and would have caused less harm. But strange things have happened in politics.
Republican congressional leaders, in August 1974, led by Senator Barry Goldwater, faced with certain defeat in the upcoming midterm elections, did go to President Richard Nixon and tell him that, given tape-recorded evidence of his involvement in the Watergate cover-up, he would face certain impeachment in the US House and removal from office by the US Senate. They felt he needed to resign for the sake of the party and the country. Goldwater, a man of integrity, later confessed he had no respect for Nixon, and held him in contempt for what he did to the Republican Party and the nation.
If the House of Representatives impeaches Trump, it would currently take about 17 Republican defectors in the Senate to remove Trump from office. Barry Goldwater told Nixon in the final days he wouldn’t get more than eight votes in his defense from Republicans in the Senate. Could that happen in the current US Senate?
The presidency of Donald Trump poses a far greater test of the honesty and integrity of Republicans than a presidency of Hillary Clinton would have.
I suspect Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of “Art of the Deal,” Trump’s best-selling book from the 1980s, provides the potential path of redemption for Trump supporters who have a conscience or a moral compass.