by Shelton Bumgarner
There are two absolutes in American politics right now.
One is Trump will never resign. The other is the Senate will never convict Trump.
So, really, any talk of impeaching Trump is moot. It would be little more than a slap on the wrist. Trump will see his inevitable aquittle as an exoneration and use it as the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.
Given that populist autocrats never lose, we are safe in assuming that Trump will “win” re-election somehow. He will use his second term to consolidate power. The United States will no-so-gradually (or quietly) drift into a Russian-style authoritarian “managed democracy” and that will be that.
But, for the sake of entertainment, let’s suppose somehow the impossible happens. Let’s suppose somehow miraculously Trump leaves office between now, and, say, the Feb-March timeframe.
We’re going to assume that Pence becomes president. Any talk that Pence is also involved in the current imbriglio, while likely true, simply at this point is too insane to speculate on.
The first issue is a pardon. Most likely, President Pence would made inane, general statements on this issue for the duration of the campaign. But, of course, he would pardon Trump at some point early in his first full term. His hope would be it would help “united” and “heal” the nation. But his real goal would be do to it so early that by the time he ran for re-election in 2024, it would be a long time ago and wouldn’t matter.
Another issue is the 2020 race. Pence is a much more conventional politician than Trump. Is only discernible weakness is he’s so fucking conservative that he is unlikely to get a lot of moderate swing voters. But he, much like Trump, wouldn’t really care about that. He just needs to tip the right swing states just enough to win their electoral votes. (Sorry California.)
One enormous issue that I can’t figure out is if our democratic norms would snap back into place or if things have been so fucked up that there’s no going back. Probably it would be some sort of muddled in between. That is until, of course, Tom Cotton becomes president with the same agenda as Trump only in a much more focus manner.
The Democratic 2020 field is not prepared to run against a President Pence. It would totally throw the entire thing for a loop. The absolute worst case scenario — and thus the most likely — is just about the time Democrats pick a challenger to Trump, Trump somehow leaves office.
Anyway, this is never going to happen. Never. NEVER. Trump is an elected dictator and the only question at this point is if he will ever leave office willingly, Constitution be damned.