It’s happened perhaps a dozen times now — a moment at which reasonable people believe that the President* has sunk as low as he possibly can — and he somehow manages to outdo himself. Trump has disgraced himself and the nation so many times now that we’ve all lost count, and lost even the ability to be surprised. The Putin summit was shocking, yes, but it was in no way surprising. It was, in fact, entirely predictable.
Trump has now managed to lower the bar for Presidential behavior below obvious stupidity, below misogyny, below racism, bigotry, and white nationalism, below criminality — below even the naked neofacism which characterizes his policy agenda and the entire Republican Party. Trump has lowered the bar to evidence of treason. It is shocking, again, but in no way surprising.
Once again, It is tempting to believe that treason is the bottom of the cesspool, but it isn’t, and Trump will dive deeper if he believes he needs to. What could possibly be lower than treason, you ask? Let me count the ways. Withdrawal from NATO by executive order, for one. A manufactured and entirely unnecessary war with North Korea. Escalation of trade wars to the point of military confrontation with China. A Trump-initiated military or National Guard or (more likely) heavily-armed white racist neo-Nazi militia deployment to suppress an otherwise peaceful domestic protest. A federal raid of what Trump thinks of as a “fake news” organization, designed to foment civil unrest in advance of the declaration of a national emergency. The injury or murder of civilians engaging in civil disobedience. The “temporary” installment of a police state to control, say, those pesky sanctuary cities. A constitutional crisis borne of the refusal to acknowledge or submit to Congressional impeachment or a justice department indictment. Arrest and imprisonment of Robert Muller and his team for some transparently bullshit reason or other.
Some of these are more likely than others, but there is no doubt that every one of them has been rattling around the vast empty chamber enclosed by that preposterous hair. In short, things are certain to continue to worsen, and they could in fact become a great deal worse. Like any sociopath worth his salt, Trump is bound by nothing that constrains decent human beings. The Trumpian cesspool is bottomless.
There is a quick, decisive, and dramatic short term fix for this problem, however. It requires no Congressional action, no Presidential approval, and no ruling from the judiciary. It could be done today, this evening, or now. It is perfectly legal, perfectly rational, and would immediately change the national political landscape and the entire national conversation. A minimum of two or three Republican Senators who yet harbor a conscience (if there are any left) need to announce that they will henceforth caucus with, and vote with, the Democrats at least until the midterm elections. That’s it. One press conference, and everything changes. Leading candidates are Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Jeff Flake. Ben Sasse could do it. Rand Paul could do it. John McCain is a wildcard because of his failing health. Lindsey Graham is a remote possibility. All it takes is a conscience and a spine and the memory of what it was once like to be a proud American citizen.
I don’t really know what may be lower in the cesspool than treason, and I’d rather not find out. A this juncture, it’s clear that a few Senators have the power to become genuine American heroes. What is unclear is whether they also have the courage.