Idle rambling about Trump’s political fate.
The more I write this novel, the more I realize there’s a real good chance that in the second and third drafts of this novel I’m going to “lean into” the metaphorical and allegorical potential of this story. There is a very key plot point about this novel that could easily be interpreted as a very Trump era quality.
But, really, the issue is more about shutting up and actually getting some writing done. I can pontificate all I want to, but if I don’t shut up and write, it’s all rather moot.
— Shelt Bumgarner (@sheltbumgarner) October 14, 2018
— Shelton Bumgarner 🔗 (@bumgarls) October 14, 2018
There’s a very good chance that if there is some sort of Blue Wave — which I refuse to believe is going to happen until a Democratic House (at least) is sworn in in January — that Trump will actively attempt to put doubt in his follower’s minds as to its legitimacy.
One reason why I think there isn’t going to be a Blue Wave is Trump dangled this idea out there for a day then dropped it just as suddenly as he introduced it. That leads me to believe his internal polling is showing things are fine for Republicans since the SCOTUS problem and he has nothing to worry about.
The end game to challenging the legitimacy of any possible Blue Wave is should he be impeached, Trump can scream bloody murder about how Congress has no right to do anything to him because of Chinese hacking. What’s more, in the extremely unlikely event that Trump is not only impeached but convicted, he will give himself every reason to simply ignore the Senate’s conviction. Or he’ll rally the MAGA base to come defend him at the White House.
Though one thing I think we’re underestimating: simply because you impeach a president, doesn’t mean you convict him. And given what a wily politician Trump is, I have ever reason to believe he’s going to be more Reagan and less Nixon in the sense the center of gravity for the American political system is lurching to the Right in a big way and there’s no going back. It’s going to be 20 to 30 years before the “browning of America” slowly begins to wear away at the damage Nixon — > Reagan — > Trump have done to the United States over the last 50 years.
I have struggled for some time to articulate the significance of technology in aiding and abetting the the rise of Trump. I thought maybe one might called it a “Creeping Singularity,” but Singularities, by definition, are not something that happen over time. But having said that, it definitely seems we’re feeling the influence of a “Petite Singularity,” if nothing else.
A series of long term technological trends are crashing into each other. Things like VR, AR, crypto, AI and automation are all going to come to a head probably within the next, say, 5 years. Of course, it’s something much more prosaic than that which has given rise to Trump — social media. But social media is definitely a precursor to the Petite Singularity. It’s a forerunner to a world that is likely to be transformed dramatically in ways we can barely begin to comprehend.
When all those low training, high wage jobs transportation jobs like semi truck driver vanish in the coming age of automation, that is likely to cause any number of significant political shifts that we can only barely begin to comprehend. One of the central issues of the day is while Trump is making a mockery of our political traditions, he’s pulling a huge fast one on us. He’s pretty much fucking ruining everything we hold dear while we’re running around struggling to understand how such an asshat as he is could be our “leader.”
And, honestly, there simply isn’t anything we can do. Trump is an avatar for some titanic, tectonic shifts in the American political system and he — or someone like him — was obviously inevitable. Really, his only saving grace at this point is he’s really old, really bad at his job and completely devoid of an ideology. As such, I am more worried about what happens when someone who doesn’t have those problems is president than I am Trump, no matter how completely horrible everything about him is.
But back to the Petite Singularity. It’s likely being the asshole demagogue that he is, Trump will exploit the social displacement of the Petite Singularity rather than see any political harm from it. I’m not feeling very optimistic at this point. Makes me want to leave the States as quickly as possible and never fucking come back.
My current theory about who wrote the anonymous NYT op-ed piece goes something like this — when all is said and done we will learn it was Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers who wrote it. But, here’s the rub, it will actually have been “edited” by several other people in the White House and that’s why it’s difficult to use linguistic analysis to figure out who wrote it.
The interesting thing about all of this is Ayers is really young and ambitious, so he’s thinking long-term. He knows short-term he would be drummed out of the Republican Party for having submitted it to the New York Times, but he also probably believes that’s worth it because long term — say, about 20 years from now when he’s angling to be a Senator — it will probably reap great rewards to be Anonymous.
One big question, of course, is how and when will we learn who wrote the op-ed piece on way or another. Either we’re going to find out really soon — like within a week — or it could be years. A lot rests, of course, on the ultimate political fate of not only Trump, but what the op-ed piece is seen portending in the future. If there really is a Blue Wave — which a doubt — but if it does happen, there’s a chance that a lot of people will see the release of the anonymous op-ed letter as a turning point.
I still think, given the clues we learned from someone who knows on The New York Times The Daily that it’s Nick Ayers and that the below Tweet is a pretty good indication. I say this because we learned on The Daily that the staff of The New York Times had to do some research into the person before they agreed to publish the op-ed. That leads me to believe it’s not a really big named person in the cabinet.
Ayers' wikipedia page is not that popular, ~100 views on avg day. no blips last week. 867 views yesterday (but wiki cut off is UTC, so 8pm EDT). He got a view spike in late june when touted in june as a potential John Kelly successor. pic.twitter.com/1dOKDsgh8L
— Trump's Friend Jim (@YanceyMc) September 6, 2018
We’ll see, I guess. It will be interesting to see where the chips ultimately fall.
The more I think about it, the more the theory, first proposed on the Deep State Radio podcast, that the anonymous letter published by the New York Times regarding the Steady State’s efforts to reign in our insane tyrant and would-be king president, Donald J. Trump, may have been written by more than one person acting in concert.
Or, more specifically, my personal spin on this theory is this — a high ranking staffer was used as an avatar for a group of people in the cabinet who all feel the same thing. This provides them all with plausible deniability because they didn’t in fact actually *write* the letter so much as looked it over, contributed thoughts on it here and there and then had the staffer actually write it and submit it.
If this is the case — which at this point I have no idea if I’m anywhere near the truth — the letter would be all the more damning because it would mean it wasn’t one person, but a group of people who are alarmed enough that they would concoct such a scheme. But the theory, at least in principal, holds up. It definitely would explain why linguistically, the piece is all over the place and seems to sound like more than one person at the same time.
Only time will tell, I guess.
The eyes of the world were on the White House.
Just moments before, President Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States, had been convicted by 67 members of the Senate for a whole list of high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump had for weeks now been ranting on Gab about his case in the Senate, bouncing back and forth between threats to start a war with Iran or the DPRK and not-so-subtle hints that he might take his own life should he be convicted by the Senate.
And, now, at last, the moment of truth had arrived.
Trump legally, at least, was no longer president, but he had been oddly silent since the verdict had been announced with great fanfare from the well of the Senate. Trump’s conviction had come after months of investigations on the part of the now Democratic Congress. The length and breath of Trump’s malfeasance discovered by these hearings had rocked the nation to its very core. On more than one occasion, MAGA talking heads on cable news had been interrupted by astonishing breaking news that left them, for once, unable or unwilling to defend the president.
The hearings had ground on for months to such an extent that Trump’s approval had slowly drifted to the 20s and stayed there consistently. Trump’s support was now made up of the very rich and the very poor. Oddly, despite Trump’s near constant demands on Twitter for violence on the part of his supporters, little, if any was reported. Trump had grown so frustrated that he had all but abandoned Twitter at one point for the more receptive Gab social media platform. Though on more than one occasion Rudy Giuliani had made it very clear it was within the rights of the president to declare martial law if he deemed it in the best interests of the nation. More than one delegation of Senate Republicans had gone to the White House to explain to Trump that he was going to be convicted, no avail. Trump made it clear to them, in not so many words that his simply living in the White House made him president, a sentiment best expressed by the legal saw that, “Possession is 9/10ths of the law.”
Finally, a post to Gab came out: “My so-called ‘conviction’ is the work of the Deep State and as such illegitimate. I remain president.”
This set off a chain of events, the likes of which Americans had never seen. Suddenly, everyone on Twitter became a Constitutional scholar as everyone studied the exact wording of the Constitution as to what happens if the president is removed from office by the Senate. The wording is quite clear: he or she is no longer president and that’s it.
Nowhere in the Constitution did it explain what to do if the president simply decided to ignore the Senate. What’s more, nowhere in the Constitution did it state what to do with the nuclear launch codes should a president be removed from office and he refuse to accept the decision of the Senate.
The next few hours were chilling as they were surreal for millions of people not just in the United States but around the globe. The issue of Trump’s physical access to America’s nuclear launch codes was suddenly at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Though it was finally announced that while the nuclear football remained in Trump’s possession, Sec. of Defense Mattis had ordered the American armed forces to stand down for the duration of the crisis.
Trump, on Twitter, was as defiant and unhinged as usual.He threatened to kill himself. He threatened to start a nuclear war. He vowed to declare martial law.
The usual suspects on cable news did their best to spin all of this for Trump. As an anxious nation waited for the now former president to leave the White House, a cavalcade of former Republican Senators and Trump White House staffers attempted to make the former president’s case. Their final argument was that for the good of the country, Trump should be allowed to remain president, despite his lawful conviction by the Senate.
Things began to move rapidly at this point.
Vice President Pence was sworn in but Chief Justice Roberts in a dark, somber event in the Old Executive Building. Meanwhile, it was learned Trump had quietly replaced his Secret Service detail with a private security force that made it clear it was prepared to defend Trump until the bloody end.
At this point, two things happened. A final bipartisan delegation of Congressional leaders came to the White House grounds under the flag of truce. During the course of an hour-long meeting, Trump screamed at them that they had never supported him and the world would be better off if it just ended instead of allowed the forces of the Deep State to ruin America. He made it absolutely clear that he would never leave the Oval Office willingly.
With that, they left.
Next, a surreal, bizarre event, the FBI slowly began to surround the White House. There was much debate online and on TV about how long the nation should wait for Trump to leave the White House. CNN went so far as to do a deep dive into the exact amount of food the White House grounds might have available at any one moment.
Finally, shots rang out from the White House as the battle was joined. It took several hours but in the end, the FBI was finally able to secure the facility. Nearly a dozen personnel on both sides died during the course of the Battle of The White House.
In what would become ionic footage, Trump was quietly escorted from the White House grounds. He spent the remainder of his days ranting on Twitter and Gab that he was the rightful president.
Here are some scenarios explaining why I think Trump is never going to leave office until (hopefully) he’s forced to leave by the constraints of the Constitution.
1. There’s No Blue Wave
In this case, Trump pardon’s everyone, fires everyone and the United States goes full autocracy. There’s no free and fair election for the rest of my life — at least — with the Russians being given free reign to do whatever necessary to throw elections if dark money, voter suppression and gerrymandering doesn’t do it first.
2. The Election Is Thrown By The Russians
In this case, the end result will be exactly the same as the above. The Republican Party is no better than the Vichy French at this point and we will officially enter a surreal dystopia where there is a complete disconnect between the will of the people and who actually runs the country. Either there will be a revolution (of sorts) or people will be so fed up that they will give up and the Republicans will gut the social safety net, eliminate taxes for everyone but the poor, outlaw abortion and end gay rights. You know, the usual.
3. There’s A Blue Wave…But…
a. But The Republicans Refuse To Honor The Results
I honestly think half the reason the Republicans are so unwilling to protect elections is doing so gives them the ability to question any result they don’t like. They’ll hold hearings during the lame duck session and do everything in their power to question the legitimacy of the results as Trump eggs them on on Twitter. In fact, they may simply refuse to certify any vote they don’t like and the American Republic will, in effect, be dead.
b. Trump Whips Up The Base On Twitter
Trump could very well actively encourage his supporters to start killing people between election night and when the new Congress is sworn in. This might be the excuse he might need to declare martial law “until things are sorted out” and we’re exactly where we would be had the Republicans won in the first place.
c. Trump Starts A War
I could very well see Trump pick a fight with either Iran or the DPRK — or both — at any point between now and whenever the actual vote in the Senate is held to remove him from office, should that actually ever occur (I doubt it.) Throw him Trump also beginning to mull in an extremely passive-aggressive on manner on Twitter about how everyone seems to want him dead and things could grow pretty surreal, pretty quick.
d. Trump Is Impeached But Not Convicted
Getting this far, having said everything above it, is a real longshot. But if there is a Blue Wave and we do manage to get the House to impeach Trump, there’s pretty much no endgame I can think of where you can get 67 Senators to vote to convict Trump. So, in essence, Trump for political reasons is a tyrant. A king. An elected dictator. You only get one shot to convict a sitting president and so should Trump be impeached but not convicted, he will be only emboldened and his supporters will have their final argument: so what if he’s this or that thing, the Senate didn’t convict him now shut up and watch while we cut taxes, gut the “administrative state” and outlaw abortion. Of course, there is a very slim possibility that what would happen is from the point Trump isn’t convicted to whenever he should happen to leave office (hint Jan. 20 2025) we will have a situation similar to the Andrew Johnson Administration where the legislative branch essentially ran the country because of the political power of the Radical Republicans. There is a very small chance that the political frustration associated with the inability to convict Trump will lead to the rise of the Radical Resistance. Trump will tweet all the time how he’d going to declare war or martial law but it’s all bluff and we suffer through a surreal political siege in Washington for years.
dA. The Republicans Intentionally Botch A Snap Lame Duck Impeachment
Should the election be a true Blue Wave and the Republicans get shellacked despite all the headwinds (which I doubt will be overcome, but still) there is a small possibility that soon after the election, the Republicans will do a last ditch effort to save things by impeaching Trump themselves for two reasons. 1) They would have control of the narrative. 2) They would have the absolute ability to pick Pence’s successor should Trump miraculously leave office or be somehow accidentally convicted. Waiting the shadows, of course, is Ivanka Trump. What better way to grease Trump’s decision to leave office but to assure him he’d get a full presidential pardon — as would his family — and Ivanka would be cued up to have a national political career of her own as veep? This is pretty unlikely for various reasons, but it is within the realm of possibility given the sneaky motherfuckers we’re dealing with.
e. Trump Is Convicted By The Senate, But Goes Nuts
This is, by far, the least likely scenario. This is 1 in 100 (or 1,000) territory. But here goes — after Mueller releases his report and after months and months of Congressional hearings, Trump’s poll numbers finally edge down towards 20% or less and Republicans actively begin to talk about the merits of a President Pence. The sheer scope of incriminating material dug up about Trump will be so extensive and damning that somehow, someway 67 Senators conclude that Trump has to go.
eA. Trump Refuses To Accept The Conviction
There’s a decent chance that should this extremely unlikely scenario occurs, that Trump will flip the fuck out and do any number of active counter measures. He could start a war or wars. He could unilaterally declare martial law. We would be in the murky, surreal world of not quite knowing who was running the country as Trump used all his political power to rally his supporters to the White House to fend off his actual physical eviction from the Oval Office. We could very well slide into the unprecedented territory of the military making the final call on all of this. The Constitution is pretty clear about it all, but this will be a political decision to the very, very, very, very end and while if we actually get this far I suspect Trump will be gotten out of the White House for no other reason than this would mean a President Pence, things could get extremely hairy as we all worry about who, exactly, has the nuclear launch codes and what would happen if Trump decided to take the world down with him.
eB. Trump Leaves Office, But At A Price
It seems pretty obvious that Trump might, as suggested above, be forced out of office only if Ivanka was named Pence’s successor. But this, in a way, is the murkiest, most extreme scenario because it would suggest that the only way we physically get Trump out of the Oval Office is one last bending to his craven insane reality TV star political needs.
So, there you go. As of right now, I think it’s over. The bad guys are going to win, no matter what for economic, demographic and generally fucked up legal reasons and we’re doomed to a surreal dystopia where plutocrats and the deporables run the country into the ground and within 20 years the United States will be a quasi-theocratic fascist state that has completely receded from the global stage and that, as they say, will be that.
But it’s up to you to prove me wrong.
Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He is working on his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.