By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
COOPER, Iowa, Dec. 30, 2019 – We were talking politics in the living room of our west central Iowa farmhouse here the other day with our longtime pal Mary Riche, who is a very active Democrat in the Des Moines area.
“We are living in very historic times,” Riche said.
Indeed we are.
Her observation gave me an opening to share my own vision of what we’ve recently been through, especially in this fading year of 2019, and what I see coming in the very promising year of 2020.
For those just tuning in, I need to explain that I come from across the political spectrum – all across it. I’m now a registered Democrat for what I believe is the fifth time in my adulthood. I’ve been a Republican through three political cycles, a No Party voter twice, and a Libertarian once
A graphic from CNN.
Here, in brief, is where I see us right now:
–The presidency of Donald J. Trump is essentially over.
–We’ll forever be talking about his impeachment, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved on Dec. 18 on charges that Trump abused his presidential powers and obstructed the lawful proceedings of Congress. But something else began as those contentious proceedings were concluding in the House – the liberation of the Republican Party. The tip-off on that was how, almost suddenly, we saw potential Republican leaders like Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor & U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, elevating their public profiles.
–The impeachment effort, at some point, is expected to move into the U.S. Senate for the formal trial. It’s not likely that the Republican-dominated Senate will convict the president and remove him from office. But I see a deal being cut within the GOP. A coalition of party leaders, now rediscovering their backbones, will seize the opportunity to get rid of Trump. They will go to him with three options: 1) He can resign now. 2) He can be cooperative as the Senate trial happens, remain in office until his term ends, but announce soon that he will not seek re-election. 3) If necessary, some Republican senators with strong character and consciences, will tell him that if he does not agree to leave the presidency as proposed in options 1 or 2, they will scald him during the Senate trial, raising the possibility he might be convicted and removed from office, and they’ll encourage a new generation of Republicans to challenge him in the 2020 campaign.
–There is always the possibility that the badly-tempered Trump, at any moment, could get mad, quit and flee to his fantasyland home Mar-a-Lago.
–Of course, all of the above will blow-up the current race for the presidency, for both Republicans and Democrats. Think of it as the ultimate exorcism of us Baby Boomers from public life. That’s my generation, and I say we’ve earned such an ouster by refusing to leave the stage. What we’ve all witnessed lately is not only the impeachment of Donald Trump, but also the impeachment of the idea that anybody over 70 years old should be serving as our president.
If there is a political rapture like I’m describing, then any candidates who earlier got in the race, then decided to get out, might well decide to get back in again. The whole race could re-boot
Who will emerge as the parties’ nominees?
For the Democrats, I see one of the moderates becoming the presidential nominee – Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.; or Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; or, as a longshot, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, one of those in the race earlier, and, yes, I think former Congressman John Delaney, of Maryland, the candidate I endorsed in September, still has a chance. Delaney, the once-in-a-lifetime Democrat who has been successful both in business and politics, has worked harder than all other candidates in Iowa. He wants to work bi-partisanly to unite the nation, creatively address big issues like climate change, and rebuild our international relations and trade. In a less-rancorous “Campaign 2.0” – if that’s what we’d want to call it – people will re-discover Delaney.
For the Republicans, I think Vice-President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, will go down with Trump. Nikki Haley seems to me to be best positioned as the GOP nominee, but don’t underestimate Ted Cruz – remember, he beat Trump in the Iowa Caucuses in 2016. And a lot of younger Iowa Republicans back then liked Rubio, too.
Note that the oldest person I’ve mentioned among my contenders here is Klobuchar, at 59. Delaney is 56, Bullock is 53, Buttigieg is 37. Among the Republicans I’m watching, Cruz is 49, Marco Rubio is 48, and Haley is 47.
One thing I’m confident of is that, with the next generation in charge, politics in both parties will be better, more visionary and more effective.
Yes, it was quite a conversation there in our living room. Carla Offenburger, who has heard all it before, was rolling her eyes. Our friend Mary Riche seemed startled. The few other people I’ve shared this vision with have generally been startled by it, too.
Stranger things have happened, I then tell them.
Donald Trump, that’s what.
You can email the columnist at chuck@Offenburger.com or comment using the handy form below here.