It's nice to see Tom Friedman come to the party about two years too late, but he's right that Republicans need to make it clear that Trump's days are numbered.
Up to now I have not favored removing President Trump from office. I felt strongly that it would be best for the country that he leave the way he came in, through the ballot box. But last week was a watershed moment for me, and I think for many Americans, including some Republicans.
It was the moment when you had to ask whether we really can survive two more years of Trump as president, whether this man and his demented behavior — which will get only worse as the Mueller investigation concludes — are going to destabilize our country, our markets, our key institutions and, by extension, the world. And therefore his removal from office now has to be on the table.
I believe that the only responsible choice for the Republican Party today is an intervention with the president that makes clear that if there is not a radical change in how he conducts himself — and I think that is unlikely — the party’s leadership will have no choice but to press for his resignation or join calls for his impeachment.
It has to start with Republicans, given both the numbers needed in the Senate and political reality. Removing this president has to be an act of national unity as much as possible — otherwise it will tear the country apart even more. I know that such an action is very difficult for today’s G.O.P., but the time is long past for it to rise to confront this crisis of American leadership.
Trump’s behavior has become so erratic, his lying so persistent, his willingness to fulfill the basic functions of the presidency — like reading briefing books, consulting government experts before making major changes and appointing a competent staff — so absent, his readiness to accommodate Russia and spurn allies so disturbing and his obsession with himself and his ego over all other considerations so consistent, two more years of him in office could pose a real threat to our nation. Vice President Mike Pence could not possibly be worse.
The damage an out-of-control Trump can do goes well beyond our borders. America is the keystone of global stability. Our world is the way it is today — a place that, despite all its problems, still enjoys more peace and prosperity than at any time in history — because America is the way it is (or at least was). And that is a nation that at its best has always stood up for the universal values of freedom and human rights, has always paid extra to stabilize the global system from which we were the biggest beneficiary and has always nurtured and protected alliances with like-minded nations.
Donald Trump has proved time and again that he knows nothing of the history or importance of this America. That was made starkly clear in Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s resignation letter.
Trump is in the grip of a mad notion that the entire web of global institutions and alliances built after World War II — which, with all their imperfections, have provided the connective tissues that have created this unprecedented era of peace and prosperity — threatens American sovereignty and prosperity and that we are better off without them.
So Trump gloats at the troubles facing the European Union, urges Britain to exit and leaks that he’d consider quitting NATO. These are institutions that all need to be improved, but not scrapped. If America becomes a predator on all the treaties, multilateral institutions and alliances holding the world together; if America goes from being the world’s anchor of stability to an engine of instability; if America goes from a democracy built on the twin pillars of truth and trust to a country where it is acceptable for the president to attack truth and trust on a daily basis, watch out: Your kids won’t just grow up in a different America. They will grow up in a different world.
The last time America disengaged from the world remotely in this manner was in the 1930s, and you remember what followed: World War II.
Friedman is right about most of this (the part about Mike Pence not being worse is a lie as he would knowingly continue every Trump regime policy), but frankly the time for a GOP intervention was January, 2017. And sadly, there's nothing to make me thin that Republicans will intervene in any way shape or fashion, nor do I believe Donald Trump will ever leave the presidency willingly, not without igniting a civil war that will kill millions.
If even 1% of Trump voters turned to armed violence as a result of trying to remove him from office, we'd have a national nightmare scenario. That has to figure into the calculus, along with the complete absence of anyone who could talk Trump down if he truly believes that he is going to spend the rest of his life in prison.
History tells us that we have so far avoided recent historical crackups like this only because the violence of populist fascism has been traditionally redirected to marginalized groups, usually black and brown bodies who are slaughtered to sate the beast. In the 20th century especially, that became the two World Wars, Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, and it was enough.
But Trump withdrawing America from the world stage means that violence will be directed inward against people who look like me, and blood will flow. That will almost certainly still happen, but I fear it won't be enough to slake the thirst this time.
Like a fault line, we're historically overdue, and the pressure is mounting until the split comes.