Nightmare Scenario is Too Simple, Too Close

Norm Ornstein’s nightmare will be yours after you read this.

The magnificent Diane Rehm recently had the very smart Mr. Ornstein as a guest on her podcast. His book with his writing partner, Thomas Mann, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, was criticized for its lack of false equivalencies in mostly blaming Republicans for obstructionism under Obama, but to many others this only lent him greater credibility.

That’s why I can’t get his nightmare scenario for how Trump could end our democracy out of my head. Here’s what Ornstein said on Rehm’s podcast. You must understand it too.

Diane Rehm: Norm, you have a nightmare scenario. Tell us about it.

Norm Ornstein: I don’t like to give people nightmares but as I thought about worst-case scenarios, they’re really two.

One, of course, is that we end up in a war — in Iran very possibly, down the road with North Korea, um but, a real war.

But the main one is, as the Mueller investigation gets closer and closer and as the evidence mounts — and now, with Trump’s longtime accountant, who’s now been subpoenaed to appear in front of a grand jury, who knows an awful lot about the transfers of money to pay off the women — with all of that, that Trump is going to fire Mueller one way or the other and everybody around him. Pardon himself and everybody around him. The self-pardon will ultimately have to be decided by a Supreme Court that I fear would accept it.

But more than that, then call on his supporters to take to the streets, saying, “This is a coup attempt. The deep state and Hillary Clinton are trying to steal the election I won fair and square. Take to the streets to support our democracy.” And they’ll go out there, some of them with their assault weapons, and we could have clashes and bloodshed.

And then we get marshal law, a suspension of civil liberties, and a lot of other things that go along with it.

Now I’m not saying that is a likelihood, but I don’t think it is a fanciful hypothesis at this point. One thing that I’ve learned from reading all these books about what happened in the 1930s, about what happened with Turkey, now what’s going on with many of the countries of former Soviet block Eastern Europe… the step-by-step slide towards something more authoritarian is not something that we can feel would never happen here. And we’re closer to seeing some of those elements. They have to be a wake-up call for all of us.

There are already Trump supporters who vow to stay with him “to the death” even as they suffer under his policies. Listen to them. They aren’t kidding.

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