Donald Trump isn’t smart enough to have a plan (and neither are those around him), but from within his own world-view he sees:
• opportunity in the not well-explored and too-often unchecked power of the Presidency (unchecked because other institutions have failed in their duty); and,
• an alliance of opportunity with a small but significant American constituency of systemic racists who hold the Republican Party in thrall and see their America disappearing. (Like Donald Trump, they face an existential crisis and have no altruistic sentiment).
Week after week Donald Trump has done something that the brightest of us could not imagine. Week after week commentators say that it can have no effect. But he is deeply corrupting vital institutions, and trivializing others. Next week Donald Trump will do something else that we can’t imagine, and it will further destabilize the American political scene.
Without any plan, Donald Trump will use any device he can — no matter how unimaginable it may be to the rest of us — to activate a small but potentially violent base — perhaps this month, perhaps in January, perhaps in a year, or two.
At the same time, he is “salting the fields”, as much as he can. He and his sycophants will act now, however they can, to thwart the opportunity of any other President (Joe Biden). In the mind of Donald Trump, and his supporters, what ‘must’ happen will not be a coup. It will be a ‘legitimate’ restoration. If it doesn’t happen by January 20th then, like czarist exiles living in Paris, Donald Trump and his supporters will seek to sow further chaos, hoping that it can advance the ‘restoration’ that should happen.
On the edge of all of this, the Republican Party lacks courage, a moral compass, imagination, and capacity.
The Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus and racist evangelicals are a diminishing proportion of the American electorate and community. They recognize the current decade as the watershed decade throughout which they will be more and more marginalized. They face an existential crisis and they have not an altruistic bone in their bodies. They are energized by a profound fear, and a profound need to hang on to power, no matter the cost to America. This is far more visceral and urgent than the energy of the hopeful who see a new America emerging.
Hope and community will prevail, but not before fear and selfishness have done considerable damage.