Thinking the unthinkable–how to survive a Trump presidency

Thinking the unthinkable–how to survive a Trump presidency–58h.,b58

The assumption here is that the event will happen and the time for mulling, fretting, and moral agonizing over how to prevent it is over. The issue then becomes one for unemotional analysis. Is it possible to escape the worst outcome that so many have prognosticated and ensure that, in the end, the essentials of the American political system will remain intact with the nation’s basic interests protected?

Strategic analysis, by contrast, proceeds under the logic of contingency planning, in which it is deemed worthwhile to study a major disaster that, though improbable, could theoretically take place. Such studies of hypothetical’s may be compelling material for a convention of civil engineers or insurance actuaries, but they are hardly the stuff of which news stories are made. And today. while the mere mention of a Trump victory is sufficient to elicit reactions of horror, most calm down upon hearing the pollsters’ predictions of Republican oblivion if the billionaire heads the ticket.

Some decisions key to improving the chances of surviving a Trump presidency are already at hand. The longer we wait, the more limited will be the options available and the more diminished the chances of success.

The Republican convention in Cleveland could well turn out to have more than one ballot for the presidency, which opens up the possibility of reactivating the party’s power to select the vice presidential nominee. And even if Donald Trump is able to force his way on the convention on the first ballot. it is clear already that he will not fully control the majority of the delegates for other matters. Party officials should accordingly seize the opportunity now to make clear that the convention reserves the prerogative to select the vice presidential candidate.

He will not pick an outsider but “a political person … who can help him with legislation, getting it through, and all that. A party choice modifies the excessive view of the presidential nomination as a pure and simple coronation and begins to teach the lesson that the power of a leader in America’s political system is subject to robust checks.

Donald Trump would experience the limits of his power. After all, it is finally the party, not the presidential nominee. that certifies the names that go on state ballots.          A prominent politician with ambitions for the future might well calculate that accepting an invitation to run as the Donald’s choice, in an election in which defeat may seem likely, would be a sure career ender. The field of vice presidential candidates is likely to increase Republicans if the selection is made by the convention, as this method would help immunize the candidate from subsequent reprisal. To be sure, the two nominees would have to reach a meeting of the minds, with the vice presidential candidate naturally acceding in substantial measure to the presidential candidate.

The only response is to consider a kind of cost-benefit calculation: how much Trump’s electability is enhanced by a more credible vice presidential candidate (the amount seems minuscule), weighed against how much this step might add to the prospect of a more survivable Trump presidency.

T he next item in a strategic analysis of survival is the place of policy advisers and potential candidates for the cabinet. Already, choices have to be made. Should good and qualified persons, despite serious, reservations about the suitability of Trump for the presidency,  make themselves available if asked? The risk of doing so, besides the danger of becoming tainted by association, is that it might once again add a measure of credibility to a campaign. Even ardent supporters of a Stop Trump movement should see the wisdom of maintaining a potential group of quality cabinet appointees from whom Trump might pick. These people should be shielded , rather than shunned.

On a larger scale, the objective is to encourage the selection of advisers and cabinet appointees who are not—as has so often been the case recently—merely “president’s men” or sycophants trying to make a career.

Trump will need to reach out beyond the limited circle of persons with whom anal he is now acquainted. The risk for him, though a benefit to possible the country, would be the uncomfortable independence of certain individuals, as well as the greater influence that group of levelheaded cabinet members might possess.

A Trump presidency could initiate a dramatic shift in the institutional balance of power between the executive and Congress. The legislature’s chronic weakness in recent years has rested in part on the growth of partisan polarization, which incentivizes the president’s co-partisans in Congress not just to acquiesce to, but also encourage, acts of executive overreach. The Obama years offer rich testimony to this distortion of the Constitution. Trump would, by contrast, have the full buy-in of neither of the two main parties. Congress would then wield formidable power, presenting a vital check on any attempts by Trump to govern unencumbered.

The power of Congress would suddenly look very different. It could even open the way to a more constitutional relationship between president and Congress, rather than one distorted by parties. A credible vice president could turn out to be the nation’s. not the president’s, trump card,

source-weekly standard, james ceaser, oliver ward,

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