Donald Trump is no stranger to outrageous public poses and statements, but his refusal to condemn white supremacists post-Charlottesville has apparently struck a nerve. Has he crossed some sort of new line? Here are some dark, speculative thoughts about the events of the past few days.
I believe Trump’s impeachment is an option that political and financial elites are holding in reserve. They appreciate the vehicle that has brought the hard right to power, but they are ready to remove it if it no longer serves their purposes. It’s not clear whether there is evidence sufficient to impeach him today, but there almost certainly will be in the coming months, especially as his finances are exposed. I am not claiming that impeachment is a certainty, only that less hormonally imbalanced elites want it to be available should they need it.
The problem is that something like a third of the country supports Trump, most of them passionately. His base will regard an impeachment as a final, decisive battle for American freedom, the fulfillment of all their most paranoid suspicions about the evil forces arrayed against them. And quite a few of them are armed.
The nightmare scenario is an impeachment process setting off mass violence in the streets—a civil war. Trump can be forgiven climate denialism, nuclear sabre-rattling and various other sins, but he can’t be allowed to encourage the formation of loyal paramilitary band of supporters, a praetorian guard of street thugs. Hence the uproar over Charlottesville by plutocrats and Republicans who have swallowed equally contemptible posturings in the past.