Here's a little raft of hope to cling to as we head into the holidays, a potential route of resistance to the presidency of Donald Trump:
Because Democrats decided they just couldn't be bothered to lift a finger in the Louisiana Senate runoff, Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, enough to approve any cabinet member or any non-Supreme Court judge, as well as enough to pass any budget reconciliation bill, including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (with the promise that, oh, sure, sometime in the next 2-3 years, we'll have something just as good, pinky swear, wink). And, except for copious use of the filibuster, it still leaves Democrats without the one thing that could weaken and, possibly, bring down the Trump administration: subpoena power, the ability to get documents and call witnesses for hearing. You only get that when you run the committees, and you only run the committees when you're in the majority.
So while we're still tilting at the burning windmills of Russian interference and possible Obama spine-stiffening on things like Merrick Garland, let's not overlook one real Hail Mary pass on confronting Donald Trump and halting his history-demolishing agenda. What about trying to turn three Republican senators into Democrats (or, at least, turn independent and then caucusing with the Democrats)? It's crazy, sure, and unlikely, in that it relies on the possibility of there existing rational Republicans, but surely there are ones who have a gut-level fear of what Trump might do. Check this out:
Lisa Murkowski from Alaska had to run as an independent when she was primaried from the right in 2010. In 2016, she ran again and won as a Republican. But she's definitely not a crazy (and, remember, this is all relative - not being Ted Cruz doesn't necessarily mean you're a raging progressive, but your eyes aren't spinning). Check out her Senate website: she's actually got a plan that is meant to change the Affordable Care Act for places where there is only one insurer in the marketplace (like, you know, Alaska). Sure, she makes reference to repeal, but other members of Congress are frothing about it. Murkowski even talks about expanding Medicare to serve more disabled patients, not privatizing it.
What happens when Murkowski is confronted with kicking over 40,000 Alaskans off expanded Medicaid, not to mention the tens of thousands who would lose their insurance? Or with gutting Medicare? Get Murkowski to abandon the party that would do just that.
Health care issues would affect another GOP senator just as strongly. Susan Collins of Maine is already indicating that she's not on the Medicare privatization train that House Speaker Paul Ryan is putting on the tracks. Nearly 80,000 people in Maine have ACA health insurance (while the mad Gov. Paul LePage prevents 40,000 residents from getting in on expanded Medicaid), and Collins has said she won't support repealing it without a replacement. Another area that affects Maine worse than other states is opioid addiction, with Maine leading or near the top of states in the rates of babies born in drug withdrawal, heroin use, and prescriptions for opioids. Maine is gonna need federal help to prevent a crisis from becoming a full-blown catastrophe.
So tempt Collins with the promise of pushing for funding targeting the drug epidemic in her state and no Democratic primary opponent (well, none that is supported by the party). And remind her that, if she's really pro-choice, she would want to block whatever thing Trump tries to force onto the Supreme Court.
That's two. Who might be the third? Remember: we're not just looking for Republicans who will resist Trump. In a GOP-controlled Senate, those members can be punished by losing key committee assignments (and don't doubt for a second that Trump won't have McConnell jumping through hoops for him). And any Republican senator with the guts to stand up to Trump will almost definitely be primaried when they're up for reelection. We can probably exclude Ben Sasse of Nebraska. He's a conservative true believer who is early in his career. The same goes for Jeff Flake of Arizona. And forget Rand Paul or Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.
That leaves, as of now, Lindsey Graham and John McCain. If I were looking for someone to go independent, to abandon his party, to take down the president, I'd try for McCain. What does McCain owe the Republican Party in Arizona at this point? He had to fight for his life against Kelli Ward in the primary. He had to suck it up as Trump insulted his time as a prisoner-of-war. And he's 80 years old and, like Murkowski, isn't up for reelection until 2022. Does he really want to spend what is likely his last term in the Senate having to at least pretend to support someone who might have been helped into office by the Russians?
McCain has a rage that can be tapped. And you know he'd love to tear Donald Trump apart. I promise you that the second McCain tries to subpoena Trump's taxes or something that gets too close to the truth about our new president, he will be booted off that committee. Promise McCain that he can lead the charge against the man who avoided military service and crapped all over those who did serve.
That's the prize: the ability to get some facts on the table about Trump that could lead to impeachment. And that ain't gonna happen unless one of the houses of Congress has legal authority to demand those facts.
Obviously, this plan relies on a number of factors: that Republicans could behave honorably; that the Democratic Party could have the guts to go through with this strategy; that some Democrat, like Manchin, doesn't turn, too; and that all are ready for a republic-defining confrontation.
It's a slim hope. But you gotta believe that there are elected Republicans who are freaked out right now. Majority power is the only thing that can bring Trump down. Hell, tell any senators that switch to independent or Democrat that once Trump is out of the picture, they can switch right back. Or try to win the majority in the midterms.
You wanna defeat an irrational opponent? You gotta figure out how to build a wall around his irrationality.