The Ukraine-gate development has broken the Democrats’ logjam over impeachment. But the reality is that impeachment was always much more of a political opportunity for the Democrats than a political problem.
With their truly indefensible and, one might say, un-American conduct, Donald Trump and the Trump Party have dealt the Democrats what can be an unbeatable campaign theme for the upcoming elections. That theme is:
“We Democrats are the defenders of America, American values, the American people, American national security, and the American Constitution.”
There are two main reasons that message would be a dynamite theme for the Democrats to run on in 2020.
First, the message is not only true, it is the main political reality of this fraught moment in American history. More than at any time – even the coming of the Civil War – the political battle in America is between two major parties, one of which is assaulting most of the fundamental values of the American republic.
The battle is over America’s basic values, like these:
- loyalty to country vs. selling one’s country out;
- the rule of law vs. lawlessness
- playing by the rules vs. cheating;
- honesty vs. pervasive lying;
- resolving problems vs. inflaming problems;
- honoring oaths vs. betraying oaths;
- protection of the biosphere vs. inviting environmental catastrophe
- fidelity to the Constitution vs. trampling on the constitutional order
- government for the people vs. government for the rich and powerful
- leader of the free world vs. coddler of tyrants
And in addition, under the rubric of “Defenders of Basic American Values,” the Democrats can also bring in the components of their positive vision for America. [See note, below.]
Only a campaign that confronts the most important truth about these times has any chance of tapping into the potential power of this moment. Only by speaking powerfully about that reality – while continually articulating the basic values that they are fighting to defend and advance — can the Democrats both fulfill their responsibility to the nation and seize their opportunity to sweep to power on a wave of public passion.
What’s extraordinary about these times is that the battle lines on all these basic American values cut pretty cleanly between a Republican Party that is assaulting them, and a Democratic Party that has been compelled to stand up to be their defenders. Extraordinary, too, in that these battles correspond pretty thoroughly with what, from the perspective of American culture, might well be described as “the battle between good and evil.”
Which brings us to the second reason that “We are America’s defenders” is a dynamite theme for the Democrats to build their 2020 campaign around:
The nature of the battle – good vs. evil – puts the Democrats in a most fortunate, powerful role. It’s a role deeply engrained in the American psyche: the role of the hero who fights for the good.
Americans like to identify with, and support with their hearts and heads, such heroes (like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and the Gary Cooper character in High Noon and countless other dramas).
This deep-seated cultural archetype is right there for the Democrats to tap into.
Which means that waging such a campaign, assuming the heroic role of fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way, should be a political winner for the Democrats.
And Impeachment works naturally and powerfully as one of the main theaters of this battle. Impeachment would serve to dramatize the nature and stakes of the battle, and how the Democrats are the heroes who have stepped up to be the defenders of the Good that America needs for them to be.
As impeachment exposes the evils of Trump, it also exposes the evils of those Republicans who have tied themselves to him. And beyond that, there are all the lies and corruptions on the Republican side even independently of Trump’s presidency, and which indeed made it possible for such a monster to rise to power as the presidential nominee of a major American party.
By showing people the essential nature of the battle in an effective way – by highlighting the extraordinary nature of what the contrast between the parties has become in recent years — the Democrats would be simultaneously protecting the nation, and advancing their own power.
NOTE: The Democrats can present their positive vision in these terms as well. They are, on most relevant issues, the party that is concerned for the well-being of all the American people vs. the party indifferent to all but the richest and mightiest.
That provides the framework for presenting the differences between the parties on health care, on minimum wage, on a level playing field between workers and the giant corporations.