Donald Trump, ever the disloyal parasite, has milked his brief time as the de facto leader of the Republican Party for all he could. It got him into the general election, so he’d have a platform for conspiring with Russia to steal the White House. Since that time, it’s bought him several months in which the Republicans in Congress were mostly afraid to publicly criticize him. But that window has now closed, and it’s clear Trump has decided that his next stage of feeding off the Republican Party is to destroy it.
Trump is surely motivated by spite, as he’s been lashing out at various Republicans in Congress ever since they began criticizing him for his racist response to Charlottesville. But there’s more to it. Trump and the GOP are at an impasse. They’ve taken just about every swing they could at passing legislation together, and they’ve come up empty, and now they’re out of chances. Once they’re done trying to pull off tax cuts for the rich this month, there’s nothing left. We’re about to get into the part where the GOP looks to the midterms, concludes that Trump is too toxically unpopular to continue propping up, and decides to seriously throw him under the bus.
It’s part of why Trump decided to strike first. By handing the Democrats in Congress a series of wins, he’s made the Republicans in Congress look weak and inept. He’s forced them to turn inward, as they try to figure out how to collectively deal with this surprise turn of events. The GOP has struggled from the start to come together and deal with Trump’s sucker punches, dating back to the primary season. They’re not likely to unite properly against him now.
Aside from a handful of shamefully sycophantic headlines from a few major news outlets this past week, Donald Trump won’t gain anything by handing power to the Democrats in Congress. The American people who thought he sucked last week will still think he sucks next week, despite his flip flops on a few issues. His own base will see this as weakness or even betrayal. But that’s not the point. By setting his own Republican Party on fire, he makes it more difficult for them to come together and oust him before the midterms. This may make the GOP more motivated than ever – but less able to collectively pull it off.
If Trump’s betrayal of the Republican Party continues, even for more than a moment or so, it’ll make his own party appear so weak that it’ll hand the left the opportunity to dominate the 2018 midterms. It very well may hand the power in the House and Senate to the Democrats on an official level. Once that happens, the Democrats will turn right around and throw Trump out on his butt, no matter how much he’s been caving to them. And at that point the Republicans in Congress won’t even bother to try to stop the Democrats from doing it.
Of course none of the above is set in stone. If Donald Trump’s popularity continues to fall, the Republicans in Congress just might find a way to oust him before the midterms after all. And if Robert Mueller comes up with the expected smoking gun on Russia, or Trump’s financial crimes, it’ll be quickly all over for Trump no matter what else happens. But Trump ran out of good options a long time ago and he knows it. His decision to set the Republican Party on fire is a last ditch desperation move with an uncertain outcome. It’s just the only move he has left.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report