No, Bill Maher, A Recession Wouldn’t Guarantee a Trump Loss in 2020

One wonders if HBO’s tolerance for Maher’s mutterings will eventually run thin.

Maybe his remarks were more goofy than grotesque, but you really have to wonder if he thought before he spoke:

Bill Maher is willing to go to just about any lengths to rid the U.S. of President Donald Trump — including economic collapse.

“I feel like the bottom has to fall out at some point. And by the way, I’m hoping for it,” Maher said on the [June 8] edition of HBO’s “Real Time.”

“Because I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So please, bring on the recession,” he said. “Sorry if that hurts people, but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy.”

The HBO host and longtime critic of Trump made his remarks after noting, “This economy is going pretty well.”

Maher’s guest and political analyst Shermichael Singleton acknowledged, “It is going well — for now.”

It beggars belief that Maher would think Trump’s fanbase would abandon him in the wake of a recession; if anything, they’d buy into the view that “economic elites” and the “deep state” had intentionally sabotaged the economy in order to prevent a second term. Trump was elected because of political and racial tribalism, not “economic anxiety,” and his supporters are a lock to stick with him in 2020, just as the folks who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 stayed the conservative course in 2004. It’s odd that Maher seems to have no memory of an election that took place less than fifteen years ago.

It’s also odd that Maher failed to take into account the reality that a recession would dramatically increase the vulnerability of those disfavored by Trump. As Dean Obeidallah observes:

Maher clearly has no clue about history if he thinks an economic collapse will help safeguard our democracy. As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright documented in her great new book, “Fascism: A Warning,” there’s one common denominator in almost every situation when a leader who comes to power via democracy or within democratic norms is able to become an authoritarian ruler. Want to guess what that is? A very bad economy.

When people are truly suffering economically and struggling to put food on the table for their families, they are more apt to accept less democracy if they believe it will help ease the pain.

And alarmingly, history has taught us that includes accepting the persecution of those who the authoritarian leader deems to be the enemy of the people — be it a free press, religious minorities, immigrants, etc. In her eye-opening book, Albright details example after example of this from leaders in the modern era such as Vladimir Putin and the late Hugo Chavez to historic figures such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

So despite Maher’s view, history tells us that a strong economy is actually our best hope against Trump’s worst, undemocratic instincts. Conversely, if we entered a recession and millions were out of work and desperate, Trump might see broad support for his authoritative impulses against a free press and his political opponents.

It’s been a year since Maher made the mother of all offensive comments on his HBO program. Though he survived that controversy, one wonders if HBO’s tolerance for Maher’s mutterings will eventually run thin, especially once his current contract expires in 2020. In fact, wouldn’t it be the height of irony if, as a result of a severe recession in 2020, HBO decides not to renew that contract?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.