(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

The GOP is in a pickle. As in, it made a deal with the devil, and now the party is going straight to pickle. President Trump is accumulating powerful backers who are only loyal to him.

Unfortunately, we are all in the same pickle. The Trump presidency is currently in a crisis of incompetence, but this may be our problem, not his. All he has to do is survive, in the political sense. For us, we can only hope to survive in the literal sense.

I have two axioms regarding the Trump administration:

• The authoritarian game plan is not complicated to run.

• Every day Trump remains in office, the United States suffers more damage.

The chaos and incompetence in the administration are only important if they become terminal. If Trump stays in power, his power grows. Reward. Punish. That is the simple formula of the authoritarian model. It doesn’t need political parties of the traditional type. It needs only a political party of the family type. And the loyalist type. And as the above link demonstrates, there are always opportunists ready to latch onto this model.

The planting and toleration of the seed of this model is the gigantic mistake we all made. And it is the true threat Trump represents. If it’s allowed to grow, we know the shape it will take. It is a nefarious vine that spreads and strangles the rival centers of power and rival forms of democratic government. And it strangles them one at a time, lessening the panic and slowly but steadily weakening or eliminating checks to its spread.

Trump is off-balance now, through his own governing incompetence. He has lost his footing, for now. He had better not be able to regain it.

He has some friends who are more than eager to help him do just that.

They are no friends of yours.