Following the debacle that was Wednesday’s events, Democrats wasted little time in returning to their four-year long quest to remove Trump from office. Apparently the two weeks he has left was too long for them to wait.
Their claim is that Trump incited the violence that happened at the Capitol on Wednesday and that it would be dangerous to leave him in office any longer, even if it is only for a couple of weeks.
Their first option was to convince Vice-President Pence to do their dirty work through the use of the 25th Amendment. This seems unlikely to happen. Failing that, they have resorted to the idea of once again going the impeachment route. And today, House leaders have officially introduced articles of impeachment.
Of course, the earliest and loudest of these voices were on the Democratic side with the usual suspects leading the charge: Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Andrew Cuomo. The rest of the Democratic Congressional caucus has, of course, fallen in line.
On the Republican side, Larry Hogan, Lisa Murkowski, Chris Christie, Pat Toomey, and Adam Kinzinger among others have all spoken out. Undoubtedly more will follow.
Many have rightfully asked why this sudden push for removal is going on when he is going to be on his way out in just a few short days anyway. There are several theories as to what the Democrat rationale might be.
Some say its revenge. To these folks it’s not enough for the president’s opponents that he lost, they have to humiliate him as well. Thus, they will have discouraged anyone like him from challenging the D.C. swamp again.
Others say it’s because they’re still terrified of Trump as a political force. Even with Trump being on his way out the door on the 20th, there is still a chance of him running again in 2024. Or, there is the danger of him passing out rounds of endorsements in 2022. With him having won in the neighborhood of 75 million votes this past election, he could certainly still be a force to be reckoned with.
Both of these theories hold some level of truth. But I don’t see either one of them as being a sufficient explanation for what we’re seeing.
Rather, I see these moves as being a bit more calculating. There is a level of strategy here that speaks to a different goal and a different agenda.
Before sharing my thoughts, however, I need to ask you to keep one thought in mind. This thought is important because it’s impossible to fully understand anything in modern American politics without it. That thought is this: nothing in Washington takes place outside of the context of the next election.
Do you have that thought in your head? Good. Now hang on to it.
The motivation behind the Democrats launching an impeachment when the president has only 10 days left in office is to increase their odds in the 2022 mid-term elections. By taking these actions at this time, Democrats are hoping to put Republicans in a no-win situation. If they can succeed in bringing this to a vote, then they will force Republicans to either vote for Trump or against him.
If they decide to vote against impeachment, then my theory suggests that the Republicans will alienate moderate and independent voters.
The Democrat’s hope here is that if they can force Republicans into defending Trump and those perceived to have been involved, then those Republicans will have a smaller amount of political capital moving forward. Additionally, any congressional Republican who takes a stand against impeachment will have that vote held against them in all future elections, especially the one taking place in two years.
The targets of this strategy are the moderates who appear to have broken for Biden this last election. It is believed that they were driven to this choice not because of any policies or positions by the Republican party, but because of Trump’s abrasive and erratic personality. Wednesday’s events reinforce that perception and now they are trying to force Republicans to defend it.
On the other side of the coin, any Republican that votes in favor of impeachment might not alienate moderate voters, but they will drive away the Trump diehards. And make no mistake about this: despite last week’s horrendous events, Trump still has many voters on his side. So many, in fact, that without them no Republican can win.
Now, the fact is, many of these Trump supporters are already sour with the GOP for what they perceive as their unwillingness to support Trump in what was (in their mind) an obviously fraudulent election. If you spend any time on social media you will have probably seen this in spades. But their vows to not support Republicans in the future are all being made in the heat of a very disappointing moment. Time will cool these tempers and people will begin to wake up from the Trump era prepared to move on.
Additionally, Democrats themselves will do a lot of the heavy lifting in bridging the gap between the GOP and its voters. I don’t know what it is yet, but Biden will find his issue that will so upset the Republican electorate that by the time the mid-terms roll around, they will be eager to show up and vote for any alternative; even if that alternative is the dead possum that’s been lying in the road in front of their house for the last week.
The Democratic strategy in this case is to strike while the iron is hot. They want to drive as much a wedge as possible between the GOP and Trump’s voters while they can. Their rationale is that the wider they can make the gap now, the less voters will return by the time the next election rolls around. We still may see most GOP voters return to the fold, but with how tight elections in America are nowadays, even a small number of voters remaining bitter and sitting out in ’22 can make a big difference. (Just look at Georgia.)
For the Republicans, they know what the Democrats are up to. Most of them have been around Washington long enough to see something like this. The only problem is, they don’t know how to stop it. They’re caught like a deer in the headlights. So, each Representative and each Senator needs to make up their own mind about which of the two groups will be more easy to reconcile with in two years’ time. Undoubtedly there will be a good mix and each person will have a unique rationale for their decision. But given their position in the wake of the election and last weeks fiasco, there is no strategy, no direct counter that they can play at this time.
If you look at Washington and think anyone there is motivated by what is in the best interest of the country, you are mistaken. This impeachment is not for the good of the country, it is for the good of a party, the Democrat Party and its goals for the next election. For the Republican party, it is every man for himself for at least a couple of weeks. Then, once Biden is in office, they will start to organize and plan their best path back to power from there. With how rough the past few months have been politically, we all want to take a rest. But that isn’t allowed. The two parties insist we move relentlessly forward, always keeping an eye on the next election.
You can follow Tom on Twitter (@SearlTom) .
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