The Republican Party’s Trumpization is complete. It’s not a conservative party, or a small government party or an anti-authoritarian party (to the contrary!). It has become the caricature of the left from days gone by — all power, no principle, dismissive of courtesy and reasoned persuasion. Anger, not ideas, is its animating force. We have a nativist party that views America not as a creedal nation, but as a white Christian nation that is diminished by immigrants and is threatened by outsiders. If it possesses any coherent philosophy, it is one of victimhood — which in turn justifies any and all bad behavior.
Four weeks from this Wednesday (the day after the midterm elections), sorry, will commence the lead-up to the 2020 presidential race. Any Republicans thinking of challenging President Trump because they recoil from the party of Trump is, I hate to break it to them, out of luck. The party wants the mocking cruelty, the attacks on the press and on women, the protectionism and the white nationalism. These things define it.
Are we then destined to have only a choice in 2020 between President Trump (or a clone) and the Democratic Party nominee? Perhaps, and if so, we should pray Democrats pick a unifying figure, one who can restore our institutions and rebalance our politics. And what if the Democratic Party selects Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)? Well then, it’s time for Plan B.
Perhaps a potential ticket independent is waiting to be constructed from among the few Republicans who have refused to join the Trump cult. There are center/right governors — John Kasich (Ohio), Charlie Baker (Mass.), Brian Sandoval (Nev.) and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. Democrats such as Gov. Steve Bullock (Mont.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colo.) would be solid additions on a ticket if you wanted to go the bipartisan route — perhaps with the promise of a one-term “reset” to rinse out the toxic remnants of the Trump era. Alternatively, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — a true independent voice — would be on any short list for vice president.
What would the Plan B ticket offer? It should start with what is plainly missing in politics — restraint, respect and reform.
Starting with reform, the executive branch under Trump has become corrupt in every sense of the word. Long overdue are substantial reforms to provide transparency into the finances of the president, vice president and all senior officials — including the release of 1o years of tax returns. Conflicts of interest, holdings in private or public companies, nepotism, the use of public office to benefit private interests, foreign interference (be it through unregistered lobbyists or election meddling), micromanaging of Justice Department investigations (as well as enforcement actions) and strong limits on taxpayer-reimbursed expenses need to be addressed.