President Trump has never been a majority president with a mandate from the people. He lost the popular vote in 2016 by around three million votes. He has never had 50% or more of the American people behind him during his presidency. He has maintained power by remaining popular with Republican primary voters. Things have just started to change. Let’s explore.
Trump came into office with the Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress. The Senate was led by the cagy and sage veteran Mitch McConnell, the House by the less than brilliant or courageous Paul Ryan. Both shielded Trump from scrutiny.
Overwhelmingly rank and file congressional Republicans fell in line with Trump because they feared a Trump backed primary challenge. Both McConnell and Ryan often shielded Trump by prevented legislation from coming to the floor of their respective chambers that was not to his liking.
There is a paradox in the availability of American political information in the early 21st century. Despite the existence of a record number of sources the information most Americans receive is heavily skewed to one side or the other. It is almost as if some news organizations are “in the tank” for Trump. In fact there are ongoing investigations and litigation about that very subject matter. Trump has used the old fascist line (among many other recycled fascist lines) of “Fake news”. He tells his followers to only believe him and the sources he approves of at the moment. I can respect a legitimate difference in political philosophy; in fact that is a major part of what democracy is about. What I have an issue with is alternative facts and zombie lies.
The 116th Congress featured a changing of the guard of sorts with the Democrats taking control of the House. With control of the body came the control of every committee. No longer were committees “behind coverers” for Trump. This congressional term started with the Trump Shutdown 3.0 and Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy (the replacement for the retired Ryan) dragged his feet as long as possible in filling key committees. Those events caused a delay but now we have real committees who are investigating the administration instead of covering for it.
The “Trump Tank” outlets will still spin and lie for him but they essentially have to cover real events like Michael Cohen’s live testimony. They can spin things any way they desire but a lot of their consumers are watching live feeds and are being presented information for the first time. That “new” information is often contrary to the version of events they have been fed by Trump and his advocates.
Previously the only investigation I had much faith is was Robert Mueller’s probe into Russiagate. Mueller is a consummate professional and he doesn’t leak. He is not like some publicity seeking U. S. Attorney running to the microphones and cameras. (Why does the image of a much younger U. S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani come to mind?) Trump was clearly winning the war of public opinion (and still never cracked 50%) because it was essentially his uncontested word. Even with that huge advantage he couldn’t keep his story straight and the Trump of today often contradicted the Trump of the day before.
I feel Trump is now a politically dead man walking. I’m not saying the end is imminent; in fact I expect it to take a good deal of time yet. Trump couldn’t win over a majority of Americans when he and his were the only team on the court; what is he going to do now that the other team came out of the locker room?
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