America After Trump

❝ As of this writing, Trump seems highly likely to survive impeachment itself. Many Republican senators fear him even more than they hate him, making 67 Senate votes a high hurdle. Predicting impeachment’s effect on his electoral prospects is tricky, but even in the most favorable scenarios, Trump’s 2020 map is tough. His campaign seems to accept that he will almost certainly lose the popular vote again, and probably by an even bigger margin than in 2016. Trump’s most plausible plan for reelection is to hope that, by inflaming the racial fears of white voters, he can hold most of his 2016 states and possibly flip a couple of others. To do this, he must activate intergroup hatred on a scale not seen since George Wallace—and never considered by an incumbent president since Andrew Johnson.

It might work. The damage Trump could do in a second term would be substantial, and possibly irreversible—starting with the harm that would be done to the legitimacy of the American political system if he once again wins the Electoral College while losing the popular vote…

❝ But what if, as seems more likely at this point, he is defeated? If Trump loses, a cloud will lift from American politics. But the circumstances that produced him will not vanish—and the changes that he wrought will outlast him. Like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, when Donald Trump fades from the scene, his teeth will linger after him—but unlike the cat’s, those teeth will not be smiling. They will bite and draw blood for years to come…

Even a roundly defeated Trump will bequeath a hard legacy to his Democratic successor, however: fiscal deficits in excess of $1 trillion for years to come; no-win trade wars, not only against China but against the European Union and other friends…under current fiscal and political conditions, a costly progressive agenda stands little chance of being enacted. Medicare for All? Student-debt relief? There won’t be money for those—nor, more pertinent, the votes in the Senate.

RTFA. It’s long, detailed, only a bit wordy – but, hey, it’s David Frum telling the truth from the viewpoint of a conservative willing and able to fight for bipartisan legislation helpful to ordinary folks.