Now that the long-awaited Mueller investigation is done, the predictable camps have formed: one calling for impeachment, and another wanting to just put the entire matter to rest forever. In a few weeks, the latter camp will succeed.
But I think it is more worthwhile to look ahead - - far ahead - - to anticipate what might be next. A combination of history, politics, and financial markets blend together into some intriguing possibilities, and I would like to offer my own theory as to what the next six years may hold.
Before I start, I should get a couple of broad things out of the way to help establish my point of view. First, my own biases: people seem to think that because I live in the progressive town of Palo Alto, California, I'm a left-wing Pelosi-lover. Not true. The kind of President I admire is along the lines of Eisenhower, and I consider myself a libertarian. The less government, the better, as far as I'm concerned. The likes of Pelosi and AOC are grotesque to me. Although, to be clear, I think Trump doesn't have a decent bone in his body, so, these days, I pretty much hate them all.
Second, I'd like to make clear a few assumptions or preconceived notions I have about the nature of people and politics:
- Humans tend to be self-serving creatures; as long as they personally and, to a slightly lesser degree, their own families are safe and well-fed, they are content to fumble along in their lives;
- As such, if voters feel more or less content and lack financial distress, they have no problem letting a political incumbent win, since the devil you know is better than the devil you don't;
- Trump has grown fond of being the President and would like a second term;
- He will, based on that, go to any lengths to assure a victory
Now that we've established those basics, here is what I think is in store.
Let me cut to the chase and tell you I think that Trump is not only going to win, he's going to win big.
The Democrats, of course, are going to pull out all the stops to beat the guy. But that's just the problem. They are going to be so obsessed, so overwrought, and so singularly focused on Not Losing No Matter What, that they're going to screw it up.
They're going to wind up with some kind of Ticket-by-Committee (like Mondale/Ferraro back in 1984) that's going to go down in flames. Let's face it, they screwed up so incredibly badly with Hillary in 2016, the Dems are going to be afraid of their own shadow and want to do everything possible to avoid another disaster. Yet, ironically, it's going to be an even bigger disaster, because they're going to be too afraid to be bold.
See, Trump's got a couple of big things in his favor, and I'll give him credit for both of these. First off, he's a fighter. He's a tough son-of-a-bitch. He has shown that repeatedly. Second, he knows how to brand. People think he's some kind of genius moneymaker, when in fact he's actually a colossal screw-up when it comes to money and business. But he knows branding stone cold.
And being born with a surname like "Trump" was the branding victory of the century. What if the exact same man, with the exact same family fortune, had been born as Donald Lipschitz? Wouldn't be the same, would it? The five letters that comprise "Trump" create a word which is simple, easy-to-spell, and suggests positivity (e.g. "the trump card"). Contrast that, for instance, with a gay fellow with the surname Buttigieg. Think branding doesn't matter in politics? Think again.
Anyway, whatever ticket the Dems cobble together - - and it could be someone we're not even thinking about right now - - they'll lose, based on one and only one condition: that the stock market and economy are, more or less, in decent shape. And if there's one thing we've witnessed for the past ten years is that the federal government can do one hell of an impressive job of propping up this shitshow. We've all been waiting for "the big reset" since 2009, and I've come to realize that it just ain't gonna happen anytime soon, folks.
So the 2020 election couldn't be simpler to analyze. If, in the autumn of 2020, the stock market and job market are in reasonably good shape, Trump's going to win the popular vote and will take the Electoral College in a landslide.
After he's won, Trump is - - and I choose this word very precisely - - going to go positively apeshit. He's going to view his landslide as a mandate, and he's going to double down on everything.
Lower the taxes on the rich even more. Make taxes regressive, so that rates actually go down for the "job creators". Implement a system of "helicopter money" to placate the masses. Do QE4, QE5, QEwhatever to keep propping things up as long as possible. After all, there's no other election to win, so just go wild.
Here's the thing, though. The shit IS going to hit the fan at some point, and the odds of "some point" finally arriving in his second term are, I'd say, somewhere close to 100%. But, the thing is, he's got no election to lose at that point. His only motivation is going to be to keep his popularity up, because, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but he's got kind of a big ego which needs lof of feeding.
And as trillions get thrown at the worldwide economy, which in an honest world should have completely "reset" back in 2008/2009, the more severe and calamitous the unraveling is going to be. And as it unravels, with unemployment soaring and interest rates doing God-knows-what, the public is going to do what it always does, which is to blame the President.
Because, let's face it, the vast majority of the public has no understanding of this increasingly complex world, so they stupidly give credit to the guy in charge when things are going well and likewise throw blame at the guy in charge when things aren't. And thus, Trump's popularity is going to do what George H.W. Bush's did in 1991, which is plunge from sky-high to dirt-low. Lower than Bush, though. I'm talking sub-Nixon low.
But by that point, he won't care. As needed, he'll hide from the public. Screw 'em. He got what he wanted, and in his mind, he tried his best. So whether he's thrown out of office (doubtful) or not, he'll leave the White House absolutely detested, and no one will be more surprised than him.
And here, finally, is when things get awfully interesting. Because the "revenge' against eight years of a Trump presidency is going to be a radical. Maybe radical right (if we're at war with China) or radical left (if we're not). But someone whose policies, if we knew them now, would make our collective heart stop with shock.
Because the "cure" to whatever circumstance we're going to be in by then is going to be something over-the-top and unfathomable, sort of like the FDR ascendency in 1932/1933, but perhaps even more extreme.
So it'll be mildly amusing to see, over the next 18 months, the country get itself tied up in knots as to who the next Sure Thing is going to be to beat Trump, but ignore the polls, ignore the Nate Silvers, and ignore the pundits. Just glance at the S&P 500. It'll tell you all you need to know about who is going to be the king in 2020-2024, and since Jerome Powell has attached a dog collar and nipple clamps to himself to please his master, you can be sure he's doing to do whatever the big guy says to maintain this levitating, hysterically-overvalued market until a second term is secured.