It’s hard to see how or when or why or indeed whether things go back to what we might call the pre-Trump normal in the functioning of our poor dear nation’s system of politics and government.
The old normal wasn’t as great as perhaps many Americans assume. Our system is screwy and dysfunctional in many basic ways. We have a system in which a plurality or even a majority of Americans can vote for a presidential candidate who nonetheless “loses” thanks to the workings of the anachronistic Electoral College system.
Our system is particularly prone to gridlock, in which each party is able to block the other from governing, in the sense of implementing the program on which it was elected. In its current partisanized condition, the Supreme Court can function as an unelected superpower, able to further prevent the elected branches that are supposed to be in charge of making and executing the laws from doing so. The fundamental nature of the U.S. Senate, in which the two members from Wyoming have equal weight with the two members from California, notwithstanding the one of them having 68 times more population, is hard to reconcile with a modern understanding of how a democracy should be organized.
But in addition to those longstanding structural problems, we now have an enormous cult, comprising about a third of one of our two major parties, clinging to beliefs that are provably wrong.
That last paragraph refers not exclusively but specifically to the recent polls indicating that three in 10 Republicans (29%) believe that Donald Trump not only won the election that he lost last year, but will soon be reinstated as president, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before. And the expected reinstatement will absolutely not happen unless Trump somehow manages to be elected in 2024 to a fresh term, which, unfortunately, is not beyond the realm of the imaginable. I would like to say that the “reinstatement” scenario is beyond that realm, but obviously that would be incorrect if millions of Americans not only imagine it but expect it to occur.
Now 29 percent of Republicans is not a majority of the country, nor even, thank goodness, even of the party. But it is many millions of Americans, and we saw on Jan. 6 how much trouble and carnage a much smaller number of motivated Trump supporters can cause.
The estimate of how many believe that this will occur is based on a Politico/Morning Consult poll completed a week ago. Although it’s been noted elsewhere, I’m relying on this writeup of the poll in Vanity Fair, which appropriately acknowledged that on the one hand, 61 percent of Republicans did not expect the Trump reinstatement to occur, but also declared that one third of a major political party is an “unnervingly high percentage.”