A man cries beside a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting in El Paso. (John Locher/AP)
Opinion writer

Even if we get a Democratic president Americans don’t like all that much, or whose limitations are obvious, we’ll be in a better spot than we would be with President Trump. That’s an unsurprising assumption by Democrats. But, increasingly, independents and disaffected Republicans — as seen from their praise of former president Barack Obama’s remarks on the mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio — know this to be true. “Anyone but Trump” should be the goal for all Americans, even Republicans.

For one thing, Republicans won’t have to observe the debasement of other Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), who lamely tried to create some moral equivalence between Trump, who incites white nationalism of the type motivating the El Paso terrorist, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who incites no one to hatred and whose ideology — progressive capitalism — hasn’t driven anyone to kill. They wouldn’t have to witness the pathetic spectacle of the quintessential he-should-know-better Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) announcing he will run for reelection — I kid you not — on the choice between civics and socialism. (The man who talks about America as a creedal nation cannot denounce the president who demolishes the creed.)

Whatever the problem, things would be better without Trump even with a president whose ideology and/or performance might not thrill most Americans.

Combating domestic terrorism? Just getting rid of the instigator of white nationalism would be a plus. The Post reports:

The administration has also curtailed or disbanded a Department of Homeland Security program that had been created to counter violent extremism by working with regional authorities and organizations to identify those vulnerable to radicalization, whether by Islamist groups or the far right.

The main obstacle to mobilizing against the white supremacist threat, officials said, may be political. Trump on Monday denounced the alleged white nationalist sentiments of the suspected killer in El Paso. But his presidency has come to be defined by policies that are aligned with aspects of the white nationalist agenda and his penchant for fanning racial animus.

We could curtail Trump’s presidency and rebuke the white nationalist ideology, or we could reelect the man who stoked their grievance. It’s pretty easy to figure out the best option from a national security standpoint.

The trade war with China? Trump now has seized “control” of policy, which has meant an escalation of tensions and the potential for a recession increase. The Post reports: “President Trump is increasingly acting based on his own intuition and analysis and not the advice of aides in the increasingly fraught trade war with China, five people briefed on the actions said, shattering a more cautious process that had yielded few positive results so far.” And how’s that working out? Not well:

Business executives, economists, and former government officials have said the worsening conflict between the White House and China was damaging the U.S. economy. Business investment contracted in the second quarter of 2019, and a number of White House officials are worried that the economy is beginning to slow.

“Unfortunately, the tariffs placed on Chinese goods are now starting to bite into U.S. economic growth and prosperity,” former treasury secretary Henry Paulson said in a statement on Monday.

Outside advisers and China experts have encouraged the White House to resume negotiations with Beijing, but it is unclear how Trump plans to proceed. He often announces his decisions in Twitter posts, sometimes after consulting with aides but sometimes based on his own view on how to proceed.

Get rid of Trump and you would, at the very least, have a less chaotic, less impulse-driven policy from someone who understands U.S. consumers and not China pay the tariffs.

Relations with allies? They’ll immediately improve without Trump. Human rights policy? Once Trump is gone, we wouldn’t be in the business of praising mass murderers (e.g., Kim Jong Un). Environmental policy? Even some Republicans are dumping their climate change denial, but as long as Trump is in office, any hope of progress is illusory. Russia? No Democrat or Republican likely to be elected will kowtow to Vladimir Putin.

I don’t mean to suggest that all our problems will go away if Trump does, nor do I mean to suggest it doesn’t matter who succeeds him. However, we would eliminate a slew of Trump-created problems and inanities and make it possible rationally to address issues. We’d end the nomination of unvetted know-nothings (along with the widespread use of “acting” officials). We’d be able to agree on things, well, that we agree on. (Anyone think just about any other president would have failed to pass a universally popular infrastructure bill? It’s like voting for puppies and ice cream.)

It’s not hyperbole to say Trump is a threat to our democracy, to national security and to progress on virtually any issue. We want the best possible president, but we will settle for anyone who isn’t Trump.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: Just how bad is the white nationalist terrorism problem?

Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz: Trump didn’t mean to pray for my city. But I pray for Washington.

Paul Waldman: Barack Obama can’t help us

Max Boot: Get a grip, white people. We’re not the victims.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump sinks the markets — and maybe his reelection chances