Now that it seems virtually certain that the US senate will acquit Donald Trump the key question about resisting him effectively is who the Democrats could nominate to beat him in November.
There are passionate arguments in favour of both a progressive and a moderate. William Saletan at Slate argues that being able to run against Bernie Sanders and socialism is just what Trump wants: enough Americans are or can be made fearful enough of socialism to give him a path to victory. On the other side are those who argue that a moderate candidate like Joe Biden has the best chance of winning, even if there may be less reason to hope that such an administration will make big positive changes. Of course, there are also those who argue that a progressive candidate will be so out of step with congress that even if they win they will spend their term getting blocked from implementing all their big ideas.
What’s happening in the US is frightening. Republicans have proved terrifyingly willing to back an incompetent president who aspires to authoritarianism, and America’s checks and balances have somewhat hampered but not really impeded his agenda. Republicans seem to have made the cynical calculation that supporting Trump can get them what they care about – whether that’s gun rights, conservative judges, uncritical support for Israel or whatever else – and that the steamroll strategy which blocked Obama’s last supreme court nominee can help them keep winning. At the same time, relatively mainstream Republicans perceive the intense emotions of Trump supporters and fear what will happen to them if they openly break ranks.
It’s a mark of the decay of US politics that it was ever possible for Trump to be nominated and elected. It’s even more disturbing that his contempt for the law has now been ratified by the senate and chief justice. Virtually anybody would be better and might have some chance to start repairing the damage, but it’s also quite possible the Democrats will elect someone whose flaws are sufficient to let Trump win again. If so, we can expect a second term to be a further erosion of the supports which maintain America as a free and democratic society.