The first signs of this nascent coalition have been emerging in the days since his surprise election.
Surprisingly, one of its leaders may well be Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was so rounding insulted when Trump, a draft dodger, questioned the Navy pilot’s unquestioned heroism in combat.
Over the weekend, McCain made it clear he will staunchly opposed any Trump plan to allow the U.S. military or intelligence agencies to re-institute waterboarding, or even more extreme forms of torture.
Trump can’t take his remarks lightly.
Republicans only hold a slim majority in the Senate. McCain and a few GOP allies would only need to reach across the aisle to Democrats to pull together enough votes to check the president-elect.
If the coalition is willing to block Trump on torture, then it could also see common ground on other issues like immigration.
Trump’s immigration plans are so extreme, Republicans could easily join with Democrats to reject a Mexican border wall and the deportation of up to 3 million illegal immigrants as Trump promised during the campaign.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham gave Trump an inkling of what he may face, when he warned last week that he would oppose any effort to overturn an Obama executive order that protects immigrant children.
Known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or “Dream Act,” it protects children from deportation who have lived in the United States most or all of their lives.
“Here is a problem that we have: You’ve got about a million DREAM Act kids who came here as small children, lived here all their lives. Now they have legal status by executive order,” Graham told reporters.
“I will not vote for a bill that, quite frankly, treats a grandmother and drug dealer the same,” he added.
McCain was equally adamant about his opposition to Trump’s campaign promises on torture.
“I don’t give a damn what the President of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do,” he said at the Halifax International Security Forum. “We will not waterboard. We will not torture.”
McCain flew combat missions in Vietnam and was shot down on a bombing run over Hanoi in North Vietnam. He was taken prisoner and tortured on and off while a POW. He current chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.
President George W. Bush authorized waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
They led to the scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and were considered largely ineffective in retrieving information from prisoners.
If Democrats can work effectively with Republicans like McCain and Graham, there’s a good chance they can also act as a check on other off-the-wall Trump proposals.