From Morton Kondracke:
If voters are furious with Washington now, they’ll be positively revolutionary in 2020 if none of the nation’s problems get addressed. And if America’s adversaries — Russia, China and Iran — continue to take advantage of the weakness our divisions exude, Trump and Cruz will be back.
The upshot of all this is that the next four years represent the last chance for mainstream politicians — of both parties — to prove they can govern. If they can’t, they’re gone — and ideological firebrands will be in charge of both parties.
And the corollary of that is, for their own sakes as well as the country’s, they’d better negotiate, compromise and get stuff done.
Clinton, assuming she’s elected, should immediately assemble GOP and Democratic leaders and say, “I pledge to stand up to my left wing and risk a 2020 challenge if you find the courage to resist threats from your right. We’ve got to work together — or else."
Job No. 1 should be to do what neither party has done for the past 20 years — ease the plight and address the needs of working-class families battered by the downside forces of globalization, technology and slow growth. That’s the cohort Trump has been inciting with calls for protectionism and nativism.
Clinton and GOP leaders could immediately resuscitate the deal that was being negotiated last year by Ryan, incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and GOP Sen. Rob Portman: a substantial cut in the corporate tax rate, a tax holiday for corporations repatriating profits held abroad and public-private investment in a well-planned and administered infrastructure-building program. It could get growth going.
Thereafter, Republicans should agree to Clinton proposals — also supported by the so-called “reformicon” movement in the GOP — to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child tax credit and the child-care tax credit, plus measures to reduce the cost of college. And Clinton should agree to a tax-reform proposal that lowers individual rates and caps or eliminates most special-interest loopholes.
Bracketing any discussion of the merit of these particular policy proposals, finding a way to compromise on them is extremely unlikely because Republican legislators don't have a base of support that will allow them to compromise. They stay in office only if they continue to obstruct.
I think that the only legislative solution to break the impasse is for one side or the other--the the Tea Party Right or Sanders/Warren Left--to win the White House and both houses in Congress. In Scenario 1 the Tea Party Right would win, and that would be truly frightening and world destabilizing. Eventually this movement self-immolates along the lines I wrote about yesterday, but as it goes up in flames there will be significant collateral damage both here and throughout the world. The Bush years will seem by comparison a model of constraint and sobriety. Whatever the legitimacy of the the grievances of the rank-and-file Trump supporters and Tea Partiers, their leadership is demented, even more demented than Dick Cheney and John Yoo.
In Scenario 2 the Sanders/Warren Left would to win, and that would create a space for some sanity to prevail, because, despite what Kondracke might think, they are not led by "ideological firebrands", even if some of its rank-and-file are. It is led, in fact, by sensible conservatives who want to return to something like the pre-Reagan, pre-Neoliberal, social democratic status quo ante.
Their "Left" agenda would be resisted by ideological cranks on the far Right, as it always has been. But I believe that there are many people now who might be described as populist centrists who are attracted to Trump and the Tea Party extremes not because they share their ideology, but because it provides for them the only outlet for their anger and resentment. Straight shooters like Sanders or Warren could win them over and in doing so siphon off much if not most of the unstable combustibles that are in the bomb waiting to explode on the extreme Right. I believe had Sanders been the nominee and won in this cycle, he could have made the case to the American people to help him to break the impasse by giving him the House in 2018. Someone like Hillary could never do that.
And so in the short term, Kondracke's compromise scenario is not going to happen. There will be no compromise after Clinton takes the White House. And who knows how much worse things will get by 2020. And if Clinton runs again, and she probably will, that precludes Scenario 2, unless someone like Warren successfully challenges her in the primaries, and that's not likely. So Clinton winning n 2016 makes her running again in 2020 likely, which in turn makes Scenario 1 more likely beginning in 2021.
If by some horrific turn of events Trump manages to win on Tuesday, then we get a head start on Scenario 1.