From the moment President Donald Trump set foot in the White House, the mantra of much of the media, many Democrats, and Trump loathers of all stripes is that he likely would not finish his term.
He will, take your pick: be impeached, indicted, resign under pressure and in disgrace, get so fed up with the attacks, infighting and backbiting, he’ll call it quits or bail out due to health problems.
This is the third year of his administration and every one of those predictions has proven to be nothing more than a hope, prayer, fantasy and delusion.
Trump will serve out his term, and maybe a second one. Let’s go down the checklist of reasons why.
• The Mueller investigation and report. There will be nothing in the report that will directly implicate Trump in collusion with Russian operatives to sabotage the 2016 presidential election. There will be nothing in the report that will directly point the finger at him for obstruction of justice or any other illegal activity directly connected with the election.
The report will detail much circumstantial evidence of tampering and collusion and various types of wrongdoing. But the finger pointing will be at Trump associates for their roles in criminal activities. There will be no hard evidence that Trump was directly involved.
If Attorney General William Barr has his way, the report the public and House Democrats see will be butchered, exorcised and redacted. So, even if there is anything there to suggest direct Trump involvement in criminal wrongdoing, it will be excised.
• Impeachment. This was a pipe dream from day one. The bar is simply to high. Even if the plausible case can be made that Trump committed an offense that meets the fuzzy constitutional standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” House Democratic leaders, mainly Nancy Pelosi, have dropped long and loud hints that an impeachment move is not going to happen, in part because it’s simply too politically risky and could backfire on the Democrats, and in any event the Republican-controlled Senate would instantly kill it. The other part is because it’s just an empty political exercise.
• His popularity. Much has been made that Trump’s popularity consistently hovers under 50 percent and that his bread and butter base of white, male, rural, blue collar, less educated voters are way too narrow for him to win again. However, it’s not his popularity number or his base’s alleged small numbers. It’s where those numbers are.
They are in the five states — Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — that will again determine who sits in the Oval Office. He banks on them to deliver for him in 2020.Those five states either have Republican governors or Republican-controlled legislatures, or a strong GOP legislative bloc.
• The Democratic presidential contenders. They all will handily win California, New York and the handful of other lockdown Democratic states. This again could pose the same conundrum that it did for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. They won the popular vote, but still were out in the cold when it came to the White House. The Electoral College ensures that. The only Democratic presidential contender who can either compete with Trump for his crucial demographic or at best neutralize him with them will likely be a centrist, moderate Democrat from a heartland type state.
That Democrat must have a hard-hitting economic message that might have some resonance with hard-pressed blue collar and rural voters. The problem though is that, as surveys have shown, it isn’t just Trump’s hard-bitten economic message of bringing jobs back that got them on board his bandwagon.
It was his naked and blatant pander to racial and immigrant fears and loathing that touched a nerve with many of them. It’s this same nerve that makes them repeatedly and defiantly shrug off any and every mention of Trump’s blatant personal and political malfeasance as “so what.”
Biden and Warren and Sanders will be hard pressed to crack that sentiment even with voters who may like what they hear from them.
• The economy. Trump’s mantra will continue to be that he put America back to work. It’s a lie, but the brutal reality is that when there’s perceived economic good times, the man who sits in the White House benefits. Presidential election history shows that it’s still pretty much the economy that drives voter perceptions of whether a sitting president deserves to remain sitting in the White House or not.
Trump will have a united, nasty, manipulative, pit bull attack behind him, a king’s ransom campaign war chest, and the continued slavish infatuation of the mass media with any and every silly, insipid, inflammatory tweet and crack from and by him. He’ll again have millions in free air time that could overwhelm anything the Democrats can counter with.
That is not to say that Trump is a shoo-in for another White House go-round. Much can happen in the months in the run-up to November 2020. It is to say, though, that Trump for now at least isn’t going anywhere this term, and maybe for another.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of “The Russia Probe: What Did Trump Know, And When Did He Know It?” (Middle Passage Press). He also is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.