The Trump years have been exceptionally frustrating for many of us. We’ve had a hard time believing that this system – our system – is so broken that this lawless, racist president is still in office. But we’ve seen the story play out in torturous slow motion, right before our disbelieving eyes.
For those of us who still believe in rule of law, we’ve seen Trump’s abuses of power and myriad high crimes pile up, one after another, for nearly three years… Asking Comey to lay off Michael Flynn. Firing Comey when he wouldn’t. Abusing the pardon power. Attacking the media. Flagrantly profiting off of the presidency, violating the emoluments clause. Vilifying political opponents. Inciting white nationalist domestic terrorists to kill their fellow Americans. Cruelly denying immigrants their right to asylum and due process. Willfully accepting the help of a foreign power to win the presidency. And now, seeking to do that again – this time as President – through abuse of the power afforded by the position.
The Ukraine call may have broken the dam. House Democrats seem to be on the verge of unifying behind the idea of impeachment. If it happens, the road ahead is anything but certain. Just as some Democrats have feared, impeachment could boost Trump heading into 2020 – given the likelihood that the Republican-led Senate will vote to acquit Trump (or not even bother to hold a Senate trial – this is McConnell after all). On the other hand, acquittal could have the exact opposite effect – turning the grassroots left into an angry and unstoppable blue-wave-making get-out-the-vote machine.
Or maybe by some miracle the Republicans in the Senate will receive so much pressure and feel such a change in the political headwinds that they’ll see Trump as a liability heading into 2020, and decide to take their chances with Mike Pence. What happens from there is anybody’s guess.
Either way, we’ll find out. One thing’s for sure: it’s going to get ugly.
Chaos Agent Backed into a Corner
Donald Trump hasn’t exactly been a stable captain at the helm. It’s fair to say we can expect him to get worse as impeachment proceedings move forward. Backed by his disinformation machine at Fox News, Trump will assertively weave a counter-narrative about the dastardly socialist Democrats coming for his noble head. He will blame everybody but himself. He will lash out at detractors on social media. He will distract. He will escalate. He will activate the rage of his core supporters. He will dump oppo. He will throw the kitchen sink. He will wag the dog – the one thing he does so well.
And the GOP will have his back, led by Mitch McConnell. They’ve stayed at his side as he has tortured America, kneecapped our institutions and undermined our democracy. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. From election fraud in North Carolina to voter suppression in Georgia to packing SCOTUS via the US Congress, the Republican Party has shown us time and time again that their only concern is gaining & keeping power, democracy be damned.
We Need A Hard Pivot Away from Infighting
The Ukraine story breaking may be a blessing. Swaths of the grassroots left – Trump’s fiercest detractors and the people who powered the midterm victories in 2018 – have soured to Democratic leadership over the last six months. Many activists felt betrayed by what they saw as inaction by Speaker Pelosi, Jerry Nadler and other House members in the face of Trump’s treasonous behavior. But this event may present an opportunity to reunite.
For the fight to come, it is vital that people on the left pocket any anger toward Democratic leadership and aim their vitriol at the GOP. A few reasons:
- The Fox disinformation machine, Russia’s social media bot armies, every elected Republican in the country, and the President of the United States are going to relentlessly seek out and exploit any divisions they can find on the left. Trump’s strategy all along has been to fracture us. Don’t feed the beast.
- The very reason that Democratic leadership has had to wait for this moment is because the GOP has embraced, normalized and empowered Trump every step of the way. In this polarized era, the real power to affect the censure & removal of a lawless president lies within that president’s own party. The GOP has not failed to step up and stand up to Trump…because they weren’t trying. They like him. They are him.
- Democrats have to wage this battle. They are right, and the GOP is wrong. Trump is a criminal, and the Democrats – however belatedly for some – are about to say it in a unified way. The best way for Trump to be deeply damaged by this is if the grassroots left engages by spreading the truth about Trump’s crimes to every corner & crevice of every community we can reach, not to mention relentless hounding of every member of the US Senate. We have to be the outreach arm of the impeachment effort to ensure that maximum damage is inflicted on both Trump and the GOP. We can’t do that well if we are engaged in relentless friendly fire.
In the End…
If the Ukraine call turns out to be the event that swayed public opinion against Trump, and impeachment proceedings are the tool that hammers his treasonous behavior home for America, we’ll likely be better off than if Democrats had impeached last spring, as so many wanted. In the end, waiting for the right brand of post-midterm Trumpian authoritarianism – a sea-change event – may prove to have been the right strategy for hobbling Teflon Don.
We shall see.
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