The Senate impeachment “trial” of Donald Trump starts tomorrow and it’s anybody’s guess whether witnesses will be allowed, whether it will be televised, and so forth. But absent some unimaginable bombshell revelation more incriminating than those we’ve already seen several times, it’s likely Trump will remain in office to continue his project of destroying the institutions of our government and Democracy from the inside.

Our best and possibly last chance to get rid of him will come in November and our ability to motivate voters to the polls will be tested like never before.  The Democratic candidates thus far have focused most of their energy on policy proposals, embodied by Senator Warren’s “I have a plan for that” catch phrase.  And policy is important, especially when Trump and the Republicans have next to none.  In fact, you could argue that Trump’s policies come down to two urges: cruelty and enriching the rich.

But the candidates are spending too little time talking about morality, especially when it comes to Trump.  Charles Blow made this argument recently in the New York times and it seems on target. He characterizes Trump as follows:

Trump has laid out his vision for America: It is the racial Hunger Games. It is a dystopian future in which maximum pressure is applied to minority immigrants and trading partners, all to insulate the white working class. Trump is the white nationalist candidate selling the racial romance of reverting America to a time when white workers were virtually guaranteed success and prosperity, often at the expense and exclusion of others.

Here’s the link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/15/opinion/trump-2020-election.html

While Blow urges us to focus on ideals, his disdain for Rust Belt voters seems off target.  Beyond Trump’s core cult, there are thousands of voters who voted for Trump as a protest or to shake things up or to roll the dice who may be disappointed, and it seems important that they not be left out of the Democratic conversation.  Trump’s lack of character and unscrupulous behavior has to be weighing on a few of them.

It also seems that the candidates could strike a better balance between pushing their policies and reminding potential voters of all the things a President used to be, or at least strove to be:  honest, dignified, unifying, informed, curious, respectful, hard working, law-abiding, patriotic, humble.  Trump is none of those things and we all need to keep making this point.

The Democratic debates should of course include a discussion over items like Medicare for All versus Medicare for Those Who Want It.  But policy distinctions like these are simply unimportant in relation to the catastrophe of Trump’s presidency.  No matter what the ultimate presidential nominee wants for our health insurance, it won’t be up to her or him.  It will be up to Congress.  So it makes no sense to spend an entire debate nitpicking the details.  And it makes no sense to savage any candidates for their stance on issues like these because they won’t matter in the end.  If Congress somehow passes a bill authorizing cheap Medicare for anyone who wants it, all of the current Democratic contenders would sign that bill regardless of what policy they supported as candidates.  The bill Congress sends the next president is what matters.

Democratic purity tests usually make mountains out of molehills, and for the next ten months we’re better off focusing on the Mount Everest of corruption sitting in the Oval Office, reminding our fellow Americans that the presidency should reflect our values, not our vices.  The president should be a person we want our children to emulate rather than a person we hide our children from.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

 

 

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