It’s pretty crazy to think that a few months ago, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were all talking about how eager they were to work with Trump on an infrastructure bill. Can you even imagine how much more vicious the infighting within the Democratic Party would be if he’d just said, fine, that’ll be bill number one, why don’t you write it Chuck? Sure, it would have seriously pissed off conservatives, but Trump could have set the tone with a big, bipartisan, normalizing win, and then he could have gotten on with all the horrible nativism right after that to make the knuckle-draggers happy. In one fell swoop, he could have rendered the entire Democratic leadership radioactive to the base, first using them and then making them both collaborationists and dupes in the eyes of Democrats for the sake of some new roads. And they fucking wanted to help make that happen! All he had to say was yes.

This is both why Trump is no political genius in disguise (a notion that seems to have died along with TrumpCare, at least outside the fever swamps), and also why the post-Trump era is going to seriously suck, because neither are the top Democrats, honestly. The focus at the moment needs to be on opposing Trump of course, but let’s say that Dems wind up with the presidency and Congress in 2021 (something I’m reasonably optimistic about). What then? It won’t take long for elite Republicans to once again join hands with white nationalists in the opposition to [insert center-left incrementalist here] as the new Great Satan. They won’t be chastened by a Trump fiasco, they’ll just get even madder, and up the ante. The inevitable failure of Trump will merely increase the fanaticism and desperation of the Right, every day will be “The Flight 93 Election” or whatever it was called. I’m just not optimistic about Democrats’ chances in that sort of trench warfare, it runs so contrary to their inclinations: turning the page, national unity, etc. Maybe Gillibrand, maybe, could handle it. But as good as Cory Booker would be as a candidate against Trump in 2020–sunshine and positivity and inspirational quotes are cheesy to me but they’re just going to kill in Iowa and elsewhere–I fear he’d just get eaten up by that, and I don’t think the other big names would do much better. It’ll be the GOP running one chamber at least after the midterms and then who knows what. I think the republic will survive Trump, I do however wonder if it’ll survive the next spell of divided government with a Democratic president. And nothing I’ve seen this year has assuaged this fear.

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