Last week we brought your attention to Robert Kagan’s Washington Post piece on the potential of a Trump dictatorship should he be elected in 2024. Kagan was back at the post yesterday with a piece titled, “The Trump dictatorship: How to stop it.” I boiled his argument down to several points for those who can’t past the paywall:
- Consolidate all the anti-Trump forces in the GOP behind a single candidate and do it NOW. That candidate is Nikki Haley.
- If Nikki Haley is going to have ANY chance to catch Trump, she is going to have to raise doubts about Trump’s electability by saying that Trump poses a risk to freedom, democracy, and the Constitution. Right now Haley is not doing this. Kagan writes: “If Trump is acceptable, then he is electable.”
- Republicans who do not want Trump to be the next president must push back against the narrative that the Biden administration is a dictatorship and Trump’s legal trials are unjust witch hunts. Republicans must get off their “cowards couch.”
- Republicans who do not want Trump as president need to turn the Republican primaries into a “struggle between those defending the Constitution and those endorsing its possible “dismantlement at the hands of a dictator.”
- The way to beat Trump is to split the GOP into pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions. Kagan is not optimistic that Haley is willing to cause such division.
- Nikki Haley should run as a third-party “No Labels” candidate for the purpose of pulling GOP votes from Trump. Kagan writes, “Should Republican voters devoted to defending the Constitution vote Biden over Trump in the general election? Yes, they should. But it would be smart to give them a more palatable alternative.
- Some great questions: “Does [Mitch] McConnell really want to go down in history as the silent midwife to a dictatorship in America? Can [Mitt] Romney not see that it is his destiny to lead the way at this critical moment in America’s history? Did Paul Ryan sell his soul for a Fox board seat?… Former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney shouldn’t have to fight this alone. For people such as Condoleezza Rice and James Baker and Henry Paulson Jr., what was the point of acquiring all this experience and respectability, if not to use it at this moment of national peril?”
Can a Trump dictatorship still be prevented? Yes. It does not require a miracle, only courage. But will the people do what they need to do? Human frailty being what it is, and ambitious and selfish politicians being what they are, it is probably fanciful to imagine that the right combination of people will turn up and show a wisdom and courage they have not shown for the past eight years. Even now, we are being treated to what Abraham Lincoln called the “lullaby” arguments, the ones that urge you to go back to sleep and stop worrying. Such as: The voters will see reason. The polls are unreliable. The court system will work. Trump won’t do what he is threatening to do. Even as we get closer and closer to the possibility of a dictatorship in America, we accept the same assurances we have been accepting for the past eight years. Do we think that this time we will get a different outcome? There is a word for that.
Some readers of my last essay asked fairly: What can an ordinary citizen do? The answer is, what they always do when they really care about something, when they regard it as a matter of life and death. They become activists. They get organized. They hold peaceful and legal rallies and marches. They sign petitions. They deluge their representatives, Republican or Democrat, with calls and mail, asking them to speak up and defend the Constitution. They call out their political leaders, state and local, and give them courage to stand up as well. Americans used to do these sorts of things. Have they forgotten how? At the risk of sounding Capra-esque, if every American who fears a Trump dictatorship acted on those fears, voiced them, convinced others, influenced their elected officials, then yes, that could make a difference. Another ship is passing that can still save us. Will we swim toward it this time, or will we let it pass, as we have all the others? I am deeply pessimistic, but I could not more fervently wish to be proved wrong.
Read the entire piece here.
I think Kagan’s plan could work, but after watching Wednesday night’s GOP debate, I am not optimistic about it. (I covered it live on Threads at johnfeahistory) I think Haley would make a good president, but the only voice on the stage speaking truth was Chris Christie. Say what you want about Bridgegate and the other mistakes he made as governor of New Jersey, Christie pushed Haley and DeSantis to go after Trump and go after him hard. Neither of them had the courage to do this. Ambition is a nasty drug.
Now it appears that Ohio Senator J.D. Vance wants Kagan investigated for starting an insurrection with his pieces. Ruth Marcus shrewdly observes that these kinds of stunts is what we can expect from another Trump presidency. Here is Marcus:
Sen. J.D. Vance wants Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate my colleague Robert Kagan for allegedly inciting insurrection with his recent essay warning of the “increasingly inevitable” dangers of dictatorship under Donald Trump.
For good measure, the Ohio Republican wants Secretary of State Antony Blinken to look into whether Kagan’s wife, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, should have her security clearance revoked because her “close relationship with her husband might compromise her judgment about the best interests of the United States.”
Right. The little woman, who was George W. Bush’s ambassador to NATO and has decades of foreign policy experience in both Republican and Democratic administrations, must be under her husband’s thumb.
Under ordinary circumstances — that is to say, circumstances in which Trump’s reelection were not a serious possibility — Vance’s missive would be dismissible for what it is: a preening, Trump-toadying stunt. No sane Justice Department would take any action other than tossing Vance’s letter in the trash. No sane State Department would touch Nuland’s clearance.
In the current climate, however, the stunt must be taken seriously as a preview of what life under a Trump presidency — or, to use Kagan’s term, a Trump dictatorship — might entail. Because we know, not from Kagan but from Trump himself, along with his constitutionally illiterate enablers, that this is just the kind of abuse of power they contemplate in a second Trump term.
Read the rest here.