This piece might be regarded as a companion of another recent piece, “Democrats Should Stop Speaking of Senate Acquittal as a Given.” Both articles are directed at the question, “How should Democrats be talking to the American people?” And they are both premised on the presumption that a vital part of the Democrats’ political task — for the good of the nation, as well as their own political success — is to try to get as many Americans as possible to see the Trump Presidency and the Trump Party for what they are.
Let’s say it like it is.
(And by “Us,” I mean especially the voices of the Democratic Party. I also mean the voices of everyone on the right side of this Trump crisis– i.e. the side of defending the Constitution, the rule of law, truthfulness, all of America’s finer values.)
That this President is a threat to the nation has been visible from even before he was elected. And as President he’s been visibly committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” of a number and a variety well beyond what’s remotely tolerable in a President of the United States.
That such a President has a decent shot of winning a second term is a national disgrace. And it is a disservice to the nation, and a political mistake, to treat that situation as a given.
Early Start, Abundant Targets
The American system (for protecting the Constitution and the rule of law) got as early a warning as it could ever get.
Even before Trump was elected, the process of looking into the Trump darkness began with the FBI. In the early months of his presidency, it led to the convening of a Special Prosecutor on whom the much of the nation rested its hopes for rescue. The system’s efforts to confront the Trump Crisis continued with the election of 2018, whose most powerful message was that power must be taken from this Trump Party, and given to the opposition Democrats to use that power to hold President Trump accountable.
The system took notice, and set to work.
In addition, Trump’s abundant and multi-dimensional impeachability has been thoroughly evident.
One could hardly imagine a President calling out for removal in a more complete and more urgent way than Donald Trump: demonstrated con man, criminal, habitual liar, bully, abuser of power, usurper of the rightful powers of other branches, trespasser upon women’s vulnerable places, greedy sacrifice of national interests for his own enrichment.
If the nation were healthy — with such an unprecedented number of bases for action, and such an early indication of trouble –surely it would have been able to meet this challenge in a timely way.
Surely, in a healthy nation, all those who had taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States would get the job done without delay, since the passage of time only extends our peril.
Surely in a healthy nation, the time such a man would be left in a position to wield the powers of the American presidency would surely be held to a minimum.
Does anyone imagine that our founders would have thought it OK that with the investigations beginning so early and with such an abundance of offenses, the system would be incapable of removing such a President before he completes his term?!
Clear Sign of Pathology
No, our founders would have regarded the idea that such a President might get a chance to serve a second term as unthinkable, outrageous.
Yet, here we are:
- It is taken for granted that Donald Trump will be the nominee of the Republican Party (the three challengers have no chance of preventing that). and
- The futures market assigns a 43% chance that this impeachable-to-the-max wrecking ball of a President will be re-elected next year.
Here we are, with this lawless President apparently almost as likely as not to be re-instated with those powers of the Presidency that — repeatedly and continuously — he has abused right in front of our eyes:
- the pardon of Arpaio
- the obstruction of justice
- the targeting of the investigators (like Andrew McCabe)
- the targeting of political opponents with the Justice Department as a weapon
- the phony declarations of national emergency
- the unprecedented blockage of Congress in the exercise of its constitutional responsibilities of oversight, trampling on the constitutional system of checks and balances
- the consistent use of the bully pulpit to deceive the people
- the redirection of funds for purposes Congress rejected
Calling Out the Broken Reality
History will say that the possibility of Trump’s re-election represented a major sign of the brokenness of these dark times.
History will say that such a possibility was evidence of a colossal national failure, revealing how far the pathology pervaded the American body politic. A pathology so deeply entrenched that — almost three years into Trump’s term — it remains far from obvious whether it is the rule of law or Trump in his lawlessness, that will triumph.
At least we should not compound that failure by failing to notice and to proclaim what an unacceptable state of affairs this is that such a President would be nominated by a major American political party, and would apparently have a good chance of getting four more years to wield the greatest power the American people can confer.
What the Democrats Should Be Saying About this Situation
I’d like for the Democrats to stop talking about the prospect of Trump’s being on the ballot in 2020 as a given, as something that should be mutely accepted.
And I’d like for them instead to convey to the American people the reality that there’s something seriously wrong with the idea of such a President getting the nomination of a major American Party.
Increasingly, as the people are shown the Trump picture through the unfolding of effective nationally-televised hearings (one hopes), the Democrats should direct Americans’ attention to the question,
“What does it mean that a major American political party — the Republican Party — would choose as its nominate a President who has already
- committed serious crimes right in front of our eyes,
- lied to the nation more than 12,000 times,
- been shown to be guilty of various felonies (from the hush-money payments to the Mueller-documented “multiple felonies” of obstruction of justice), and who
- seems not to care about American national interests and
- is clearly milking the Presidency for all the money he can get out of it (Trump Hotel, Pence’s Irish retreat, military stopovers near Trump’s Scottish resort).
What does it tell us about the moral condition, and the patriotism (or lack of it) of such a Party?
History will say that the crisis involving the darkness of Trump and the Trump Party represent the central reality of the politics of these dark times.
That it’s happening must be acknowledged and dealt with. That it’s a sign of something amiss should be shown to the people.
It’s a reality the Democrats have every reason to want people to see. So the Democratic Party should call the people’s attention to it, so that the people themselves will not accept it as a given.