I get the impression that a lot of people who consider the Trump presidency to be the disaster for American politics and culture that it surely is are dealing with this realization by telling themselves that if we can just survive until January of 2021, everything will be, if not exactly OK, than at least much more bearable (I know this has been my own semi-conscious frame of mind for the past 17+ months).
The problem is that this rationalization is just that: Trump has a very good chance of getting re-elected, by which I mean the probability of that happening is high enough that it should be considered its own independent ongoing crisis, that should be a non-stop focus of efforts to stop it from happening.
Why does Trump have such a good chance of being re-elected, when he’s extremely unpopular?
First, a couple of fundamental facts:
(a) Trump was extremely unpopular in November of 2016, when he got elected the first time.
(b) Since the days of Grover Cleveland, only once has a party won the White House and not held it for at least eight years. (Jimmy Carter didn’t get re-elected, and Carter’s initial election itself was something of a freak, coming as it did immediately on the heels of the biggest political scandal in American history).
For a more technical analysis of why, from a fundamental standpoint, Trump’s prospects for re-election are catastrophically high — at least in the same sense that say a 35% risk of your house burning down is catastrophically high — see Larry Sabato.
Second, to add my own 1.3 cents to the debate over whether Hillary Clinton was the worst presidential candidate in US history or the worst candidate for any political office in history of the world, I’ll make a bold prediction: It will turn out that, miraculously, Democrats will nominate an even more “flawed” candidate in 2020, after once again turning their back on Johnny Unbeatable.
This candidate will turn out to have said and done things that raise “troubling questions” in the minds, loosely speaking, of the elite media in general and the pundit class in particular, because of the iron rule of American politics that Both Sides Do It and the Truth No Doubt Lies Somewhere in the Middle.
When it’s pointed out that these “scandals” add up in seriousness to .1% of whatever happened in the Trump administration yesterday afternoon, the Village Elders will reply that this only emphasizes that the difference between Trump and the Flawed Democrat is one of degree, not kind.
Also, Flawed Democrat will have a lot of trouble connecting with voters, meaning older white people in deep red states. This failure will be attributed to Flawed Democrat’s taste in food, music, and/or couture. (If Flawed Democrat is a woman, her hair will come under extreme scrutiny, because that’s only fair given the media’s unfair tendency to occasionally mention the fact that Trump appears to have a recently deceased marmot on top of his head, so this is Totally Not Sexist.).
And so on.