Two writers plagued by especially virulent strains of Trump Derangement Syndrome have gifted us with their visions of 2020. One is a Republican, the other a Democrat. One is giddy, the other depressed. In both cases, the blustering is as tart as ever. But behind the invective, a sad reality beckons: The president will not be so easy to get rid of, and even these staunchest of Trump bashers know it.
Critiquing His Own Hallucinations
John LeBoutillier, a former GOP congressman from New York, indulged in waves of externalized illusion in his Jan. 1 op-ed at The Hill on Trump’s chances in 2020. Keeping with the bizarre imagery that progressives and Never Trump establishment Republicans enjoy wallowing in, LeBoutillier compared a Senate impeachment trial to a lurid scene from a Steven Spielberg movie. “Do you recall in the Indiana Jones movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ when the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant on a remote Mediterranean Island?” LeBoutillier asked. “This impeachment trial will be similar: All sorts of political spirits will be unleashed.”
Picturing themselves as Hollywood action heroes is de rigueur for “The Resistance,” as Trump’s foes on both sides of the aisle love to call themselves. In LeBoutillier’s feverish imagination, the Senate trial will exude supernatural spiritual energy that will lead to collapsing support for the president among both Republicans and the American people, the emergence of damaging new revelations about Ukraine, and the coming of a mighty new whistleblower who will be primed to slay the dragon. What we have here is nothing short of apocalyptic literature for Trump haters. “There will be another blockbuster whistleblower – on an entirely different scandal – whose information will be made public just as the Senate trial is underway. This will rock the political world,” LeBoutillier predicts, or, to put it more accurately, prophesizes.
Seeing his phantasm through to the end, the former congressman adds a veneer of political analysis to buttress what is, after all, nothing but sheer wishful thinking. “While the odds remain overwhelming that Trump is not removed in the Senate, there now is a 10 percent chance that he will be — and that percentage will grow as new revelations emerge,” LeBoutillier writes. “Remember, public opinion is the key here; if the ‘remove’ numbers continue to grow, then anything is possible.”
Fear and Loathing on the Trump-Bashing Trail
Democrat Ed Kilgore sees things much more darkly. In a Dec. 30 piece at the leftist urbanite boutique site New York magazine, Kilgore expounds on his “existential dread” of what 2020 may bring. He begins by tossing about a few other talking points, such as climate change and personal privacy in a heavily corporatized digital age, but there is clearly only one thing dominating Kilgore’s mind. “[F]or political writers, of course, 2020 looms as a most consequential year primarily because it will determine whether the dire Trumpian experiment in populist white nationalism begun so abruptly in 2016 continues or at least temporarily ends,” he wrote. Unlike LeBoutillier, Kilgore is filled with a palpable “Big Fear” that Trump will cruise through the Senate impeachment saga unscathed and win re-election. It’s interesting to note that among this veteran Dem’s biggest worries is that a second Trump term would lead “to a permanently Trumpist GOP and a shattered opposition party.” It appears progressive Democrat Kilgore has every bit as fond an attachment to the old GOP establishment as ex-Republican congressman LeBoutillier. Funny how that works.
Unlike LeBoutillier’s blissful dreams of a diminished and defeated Trump, Kilgore sees the tyrant adding the finishing touches to his coming dictatorship. Get a load of this bit of word salad: “the unmistakable parallels of Trumpism and 20th-century fascism — the contempt for the rule of law and for democratic norms, the jingoism and militarism, the racism, the championship of cultural reaction, the brutal rhetoric, the love of violence and war crimes, the hostility to independent media …” And that is merely the middle half of one sentence. “A reelected Trump would likely relax any inhibitions about comparing him to other authoritarian leaders and make the possibility that he would refuse to peacefully give up power in 2025 a lively issue rather than just a paranoid fantasy,” Kilgore harrowingly concludes.
Ace Up His Sleeve
Looking beyond the movie star role-playing and Orwellian hellscapes, both writers are forced to concede a harsh truth: The president they so clearly despise is holding an especially strong hand in the Electoral College card game. Even as he gave full vent to his fanciful longings for a crushing Trump loss, LeBoutillier admitted that this will be a tough nut to crack. “Trump will lose massively in the popular vote and narrowly in the Electoral College,” is how he put it. Kilgore was less inclined to self-deception, though the pain caused by this approach was obvious. “Trump’s defenders are right that liberals are haunted by the outcome of the 2016 election and are determined to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he wrote. “But they are wrong in suggesting we don’t understand Trump supporters or the parts of the country (most intensely the southern part of the country, in which I was born and raised) where he is popular. I feel like I understand it entirely. But it remains hard to accept.”
If only progressives writing for trendy New York City cosmopolitan mags and GOP Swamp alumni penning op-eds for mainstream political sites got to choose the next president, then Trump would indeed be in peril this coming November. Alas, they do not. The American people do. And the same Heartland red tide that propelled Trump to victory in 2016 has shown no inclination to veer away from the populist nationalist president and embrace the radical blue hues being offered up by his Democratic opposition. That is the sobering kind of truth that spoils the dizziest of Never Trumper fantasies and fuels a progressive Dem’s starkest pangs of existential angst.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.