As we lurch into the lurid carnival of Cleveland, it occurs to me that by choosing Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has increased the chances that, even if he wins the Presidency, he will not serve beyond January 31, 2017.
Anti-Trump forces headed to Cleveland are having about as much success as the anti-Erdogan forces did in Turkey over the weekend. But give the Republicans time; they’ll sober up. Pence will get tired of playing Donald Trump’s interpreter, because some statements—Clinton’s bad judgment in voting for the Iraq War disqualifies from the Presidency, but Pence’s bad judgment in voting for the Iraq War does not; I’m great because I’m anti-establishment, but Pence is “very establishment… and that’s not a bad thing“—interpret as gibberish. Spanning the Trump–Pence worldview gap will exhaust Pence and his party (especially given that Trump doesn’t really have a worldview as much as a view of himself as all that matters in the world). If they can somehow hobble to victory in November (this morning’s Real Clear Politics average: Clinton leading six of eight polls, average lead of 3.2), Republicans will recognize the danger to national security and global stability a President Trump presents. They will recognize that next in line for power is a reliable, experienced (six terms in Congress, one term as Governor), genuine conservative Republican.
And on January 21, urged quietly on by party leaders and Vice-President Pence, the GOP-controlled House will impeach President Trump. On what grounds? Don’t worry, they’ll find something. Remember, we have “loose morals and intemperate habits” as precedent.
Senate Democrats (likely not a majority if Trump wins the general election, but still necessary to secure the two-thirds majority for conviction) will ask, “What’s in this for us? Why should we vote to trade President Trump for President Pence?” Vice-President Trump and the GOP leadership will quietly persuade the Democrats that Trump will destroy the Constitution and the country. Vice-President Pence, motivated by the same fear but also by a keen desire to take the only path to the Presidency available to him, will also offer the Democrats some key policy concessions—maybe no Planned Parenthood defunding or Affordable Care Act repeal.
The combination of Trump’s obvious unfitness and Pence’s willingness to deal will drive the Senate to convict Donald Trump, remove him from office, and raise Mike Pence to the Presidency.
Never-Trumpers, it would be a lot easier for you all to simply vote for Clinton. It might even be easier to just buy the Electoral College. But if you insist on voting Republican, the impeachment gambit and President Pence is your last route to sanity and American stability.