How Republicans Could End Up in a Nightmare Scenario in 2018

Nancy Pelosi

Could Nancy Pelosi end up the president by default? | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re a Democrat, a liberal, or just anyone that dislikes the direction that the Donald Trump presidency has taken the United States of America, the last year-plus has probably been a real headache. With a Republican-controlled Congress to go along with Trump sitting in the White House, there is practically nothing to stop the GOP from enforcing their vision for the country. That means lowering taxes for their wealthy donors, raising taxes on the poor, and cutting programs we all pay into such as Social Security and Medicaid. Those are programs many people rely on.

But fear not! There is a scenario where things take a major turn in 2018. If several situations break the right way, America could end up with a Democrat-controlled Congress and Nancy Pelosi as the first woman to hold the office of the president. Here is everything that would have to happen.

1. A real economic plan, not just anti-Trump rhetoric

Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O’Meara greet supporters after winning the New Hampshire Democratic Primary. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

The first step in the process is turning the House of Representatives blue again. It’s not easy, but it is doable. According to a CNN poll in Sept. 2017, the approval rating for the Republican party has fallen to 29% – an all-time low. While a majority of Republican leaders agree that President Trump is taking the party in the right direction, a slight majority of GOP voters think leadership is taking the party down a bad path.

This should open a door for Democrats. The Republicans are pushing through a tax bill that objectively hurts the poor and middle class – many of which frequently vote Republican – in favor of more perks for the wealthy. The Democrats need to rally around a real economic plan, whether it be tax breaks for the middle class, an economic stimulus, or something completely different. Just pushing anti-Trump rhetoric won’t grab enough swing votes on its own.

2. How the Democrats re-take the House of Representatives

Paul Ryan speaking at a podium on the American Healthcare Act

Paul Ryan could be in trouble in 2018. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Let’s assume that the Democrats do come up with some sort of economic plan that people can get excited about. The other issue standing in their way is gerrymandering, which is the process of drawing up favorable district lines to include only certain demographics. Republicans have been notorious for gerrymandering, leaving Democrats at a major disadvantage in House elections.

Even still, it can happen. Twenty-four House seats need to flip from Republican to Democrat to create a blue majority. According to the Washington Post, 23 districts with Republican incumbents actually voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. If they can flip nearly 20 of those seats, plus a handful of others that include retiring Republicans, the Democrats can take back the house.

3. Flipping enough Senate seats

Jeff Flake tight, in a blue shirt, against a dark background

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake at a town hall event at the Mesa Convention Center | Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The chances of taking back the House are a lot better than taking back the Senate. Currently, there are 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and two Independents that caucus with the Dems in the Senate. To gain a majority, the Democrats need to hold onto what they have while flipping three seats. Considering the aforementioned poll that shows how conservatives view the current state of the GOP, it’s not out of the question.

Republican Judge Roy Moore – known for admitting to pursuing romantic relationships with young girls – is running against Doug Jones in Alabama. Recent polls show that Moore has a slight edge. But taking that race out of consideration, there are still a handful of others that could be possible. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker aren’t seeking re-election in Arizona and Dean Heller is on the hot seat in Nevada. Even Ted Cruz is a coin flip in Texas.

4. Say goodbye to Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz isn't exactly charismatic

Senator Ted Cruz argues a lot on behalf of the wealthy. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Democrats holding their seats in the Senate is a challenge. That includes the tenuous hold Bill Nelson, Joe Donnelly, and Claire McCaskill have on their seats. To bump Republicans down to 49 Senate seats, Democrats will need to beat each of the four previously listed incumbent Republicans – including Ted Cruz.

Texas leans hard on the conservative side, and there are few politicians in America that are more conservative than Cruz. But at the same time most people don’t like him, and that includes Republicans. According to Five Thirty Eight, Cruz is in a wild card election against a Democrat named Beto O’Rourke. The handsome 45-year-old is often described as Kennedy-esque, which helps his cause against the painfully uncharismatic Cruz. This would be a huge win for Democrats, both symbolically and logistically.

5. Impeaching Donald Trump

donald trump's face in white shirt, red tie

Trump’s had no shortage of scandals. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

The impeachment process can be started for a variety of reasons, including bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors. Rep. Al Green of Texas brought articles of impeachment against Donald Trump in Dec. 2017. This isn’t abnormal, and it often goes nowhere. For the president to be impeached, a majority of the House Judiciary Committee needs to vote in favor of impeachment. Then, a simple majority in the House needs to vote to impeach.

That starts the process, but Trump wouldn’t be removed from office just yet. Next comes the Senate trial, where United States Senators act as the jury. If 67 of them vote to convict, then Trump would be removed from office. Robert Mueller is currently investigating the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia. So bribery, treason, and high crimes and misdemeanors aren’t exactly far-fetched.

6. And then impeaching Mike Pence

Mike Pence in a dark suit and red tie on a dark background

Mike Pence brought the religious right to Trump. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence is next in line for the presidency if Trump is impeached. New revelations in the Michael Flynn story could lead us down the path to his impeachment, too. Pence told the American people that Flynn had no involvement with Russians, which was later proven untrue. To this point, Pence’s defense has been ignorance – Flynn lied to him.

But that may not hold up in the long-term. According to FBI documents, it wasn’t just Flynn operating on his own but multiple members of Trump’s transition team. A team which was led by Mike Pence. As of now, Mueller’s investigation hasn’t contacted Pence or requested anything from the vice president. But as more information about Pence’s knowledge of Russia’s involvement with the campaign comes out, it’s entirely possible that he could be impeached for treason as well.

7. A few Republicans need to listen to their conscience

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan shares a laugh with Republican members of Congress. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

However, there is a sticking point on impeachment. Remember how the Senate acts as the jury, and 67 votes are needed to impeach? Even if the Democrats can take back the majority in the Senate (including the two Independents), that’s still just 51 votes. Sixteen Republicans would need to vote in favor of removing Donald Trump from office. Considering the “party over country” mantra coming from the Senate majority over the last year, that seems unlikely.

For this all to work, 16 Republican Senators would need to listen to their conscience. As it relates to Trump, it’s not out of the question. It’s not a huge secret that many prominent Republicans are privately hoping to toss him out the door. But would those 16 Republicans also be willing to get rid of Pence, even if they’re presented overwhelming evidence that he committed treason or several felonies?

If the Democrats take back the House, impeaching both Trump and Pence would leave the Speaker of the House – in this scenario, Nancy Pelosi – as the next President of the United States. Given how so many Republicans are willing to openly endorse Roy Moore in Alabama simply to keep a Democrat from taking a Senate seat, it’s hard to see them allowing Pelosi to replace Pence — even if he has committed treason.

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