After an unexpectedly crowded schedule created an unplanned six-month absence, I’m re-launching Wolves and Sheep with a new look (and new sheep) in time for the 2018 midterm elections. Back in January, I warned that the first nine months of this year would be an especially dangerous time for the country, as congressional Republicans facing primary elections would be reluctant to allow any daylight between themselves and the administration for fear of retribution by Trump’s loyal base (and if you’re wondering if this was an overreaction, just ask Trump critic Mark Sanford, the soon-to-be former representative from South Carolina who lost his primary to a Trump-supporting challenger). I predicted that the combination of Republicans unwilling to put the needs of the country over their incumbency and an increasingly embattled president would create a treacherous moment for the country.
As we arrive eight months later, battered but still here, that prediction has largely played out. So much has happened to threaten this administration that at times it feels like the news is moving as quickly as a river overflowing its banks. Trump’s presidency, campaign and business are coming under increasing scrutiny at the federal and state level for a variety of potential criminal and civil violations so numerous that it would take a separate post to list them all. As the walls close in, Trump lashes out with angry, unhinged tweets aimed at delegitimizing his adversaries and rallying his supporters. He continues to hold his base, but in the process he energizes his opponents who are large in number and need little convincing to vote two months from now. And so we are heading for an epic confrontation with outsized implications for the administration and the country.
Over the next few weeks, Wolves and Sheep will concentrate primarily on the election—how it is shaping up and how the outcome will shape the future. I also plan to revisit the forces driving our politics and how they are larger than Donald Trump, making any attempt to dislodge the Trump administration fraught with danger. Back in January, I optimistically believed that once the primaries were over, some Republicans facing a broader and more diverse general electorate would find it wise to distance themselves from Trump. It is now apparent that they are all in with the administration because their party demands it. There will be no meaningful legislative check on the president before the election, at which point either a blue wave will drown a gerrymandered map and hand subpoena power to Democrats or Republicans will learn they can survive their flirtation with authoritarianism, leaving Donald Trump to enter the second half of his term emboldened and unchecked.
These are the stakes. A new and uncertain phase of this deadly serious reality show awaits after November 6. I will consider three possible election outcomes and the risks they pose in my next post.