In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news, the United States is about to hold its quadrennial midterm election, where the entire House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate, thousands of local legislature seats, and numerous governorships are all up for grabs.
It’s being called the most important vote of our lifetimes, a hyperbolic phrase applied to every recent election.
Liberals think it’s going to be our last chance to stop Donald Trump from “consolidating power,” rolling back our freedoms, putting soldiers in the streets, mass incarceration of enemies in FEMA Camps, and executing his final plan to declare himself President God King for Life.
Conservatives see it as a way to solidify their thousand-year hold on the country, ensure the passage of all manner of tax cuts and social reform rollbacks, hold on to SCOTUS forever, and gerrymander the Democratic Party out of existence.
It might be all of those things. It might be none. But whatever the case, it’ll be over in a week. What happens then?
There’s still an erratic, childish, conspiratorial, barely functional president in the White House, surrounded by a cabinet, media, and Congress full of sycophants and toadies.
There’s still the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling.
There’s still an overheated economy, with a bulging deficit, stagnant wages, and a potential stock market bubble that could pop at any time (or maybe has already.)
There’s still a government where numerous top-level positions are unfilled, leaving us at risk for any number of terrible things.
There’s still a legion of angry and armed conspiracy theorists littering the worst parts of the internet, many of whom think of themselves as soldiers in the Army of Trump.
And there’s still the random variations of 21st century existence, where a pandemic or cyberattack could hit us at any time.
So while we dance on pins and needles waiting for election returns to come in, I’ve taken a stab at predicting some thing that might happen in the first few weeks after the election – regardless of who wins.
From most likely to least likely, they are:
Trump Purges His Cabinet: This seems to be almost a given, and numerous media outlets are reporting on it like it’s a foregone conclusion, with only the actual names of who gets fired to be sorted out.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has already announced she’s leaving, Jeff Sessions has been rumored to be on the chopping block since about five minutes after he was sworn in, and Defense Secretary James Mattis has fallen out of favor as well.
Other candidates to get the orange sip are Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (for sleeping in meetings, insider trading allegations, and substandard negotiation skills), Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (for a stunning range of ethical violations), Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (for publicly balking at shooting the migrant caravan approaching the US/Mexico border), HUD Secretary Ben Carson (for the whole dining room table thing), and Energy Secretary Rick Perry (hey, he’s Rick Perry.)
A purge of this type would allow Trump to put less competent, more compliant loyalists in his cabinet, so get ready for government to function even less efficiently, more Obama-era laws rolled back, and more of those fawning praise sessions where everyone in the cabinet fights to see who can shower Trump with sunshine more obnoxiously.
More Mueller Indictments: Did you think Mueller and his crack commando team were taking some time off? The Special Counsel has been hard at work wrapping up its prosecution of Paul Manafort, getting ready for sentencing hearings of others it’s procured indictments for, and doing all manner of things we don’t know about.
How do we know? Well, there’s that whole cockamamie scheme that a couple of GOP hacks hatched to smear Mueller with obviously-fake sex abuse allegations.
That desperate attempt to deflate Mueller is almost certainly happening because he’s about to hit other Trump toadies with indictments. My guess is that Roger Stone gets the next FBI-windbreaker’ed knock on his door, and after that – well, if you’re in the Trump family, business, or administration, you should get a lawyer, and your lawyer should get a lawyer.
Some other Horrible Thing We Can’t Predict: We’ve been insanely lucky that the US hasn’t been hit by a massive pandemic, economic collapse, horrific terrorist attack, once-in-a-century disaster, loose nuke, cyber-offensive, alien invasion, or ape uprising.
Why have we been lucky? Because there’s no indication this administration would have the slightest clue as to how to respond. Two words, folks: Puerto Rico.
A massive, totally unpredictable event could happen at any time, with little or no notice. And Trump’s response, especially if Democrats take part or all of Congress, will probably be a tweet about how it’s Fake News, and to remember your beautiful 401K. Sleep well.
Trump Gets Subpoenaed: Politico ran a story today trying to connect some dots leading to the president having already been subpoenaed in the Mueller investigation. Is it true? They stand by their reporting, while other really smart people say there’s no way it’s true, and isn’t really based on anything but hearsay and circumstantial evidence.
If it does happen, it’ll be a huge story – in terms of both what it reveals and how Trump fights it. But it might not happen soon, or ever. Mueller might simply feel that he doesn’t need what will surely be a soup of lies and nonsense from Trump to finish his investigation.
Trump Tries Some Ludicrous Power Grab: If Democrats do end up taking the House, I’d expect Trump to at least publicly declare that he’s going to do something horribly stupid and dictatorial, even if he never actually does it.
Just in the week before the midterm, he’s already announced he’s going to nullify the 14th Amendment with an executive order (he can’t and won’t), and sending the military to do who-knows-what at the border as the migrant caravan approaches.
What’s he going to do after the election that no rational politician would attempt in a botched grab for more power? Try to nullify the results of the midterms? Declare war on some random country for good headlines? Try to lock up his enemies? Declare martial law?
Fortunately, most of this stuff is outside the scope of his powers as president. And if Democrats do take the House, almost all of it would likely result in instant impeachment. Still, it would be greatly destabilizing for democracy and send an already-divided country careening toward an irreparable fracture.
So go out and vote. And then get ready for some serious madness.