Outlasting Trump

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We talk with Gary Gerstle about the big issues roiling US politics with likely aftereffects that will long outlast Trump's presidency. First up: the fight over the census. What's a stake in the citizenship question? How has American politics been shaped by people-counting in the past? And what is the Supreme Court likely to decide? Plus we look at constitutional reform, the environment and impeachment. These are the battles that could have consequences for decades to come. With Helen Thompson.

Talking Points:

The Trump administration wants to put the “citizenship question” on the U.S. census.

  • Lines are being drawn between personhood and citizenship.
  • If immigrants avoid the census, there could be consequences for Democrats.
  • The Republicans know that demographics are against them.
  • Trump probably wouldn’t have won the Republican primary without the backlash against immigration.

The United States was the first country to put a census in its constitution.

  • The census is not connected to citizenship: it’s connected to personhood.
  • Counting for the purposes of elections becomes complicated when you have a significant number of people in the country who are not citizens.
  • The census gives you the numbers, but what happens is up to the states. This is why state-level offices are so important.

If Trump wins a second term, he will likely appoint two justices to the Supreme Court.

  • He has promised that he will only appoint people approved by the Federalist Society, which promotes an originalist interpretation of the Constitution.
  • There can still be meaningful differences when people get on the court: Gorsuch, for example, has been more willing to side with liberal justices than Kavanaugh.
  • But Kavanaugh and Gorsuch both are unlikely to uphold environmental regulations.
  • If a Democrat wins, he or she will have to contend with a court that opposes the regulatory state.

What about the impeachment question?

  • Is there a principle at stake here? If not now, when?
  • The Mueller report is damning—it emphasizes that the fact that they are not indicting the president does not mean they are exonerating him.
  • Mueller’s July testimony will be significant: if impeachment is going to happen, the next few months are crucial.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Further Learning:

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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