Senate Republicans wrapped up their opening statements in the Trump impeachment trial yesterday, and the end point of their case can be summarized like this:
“He did it. So what?”
It’s still not clear if any witnesses will ever be called. Reporting by the Wall Street Journal last night suggested that McConnell does not yet have the votes to prevent witnesses–though he still has a lot of time to twist arms. I’m starting to think it’s better for Democrats if Senate Republicans refuse to allow witnesses. If Ambassador Bolton testifies, he only confirms what most of us already know. Maybe a few people out in TV-land won’t believe Trump extorted Ukraine until Bolton confirms it, but his testimony won’t be enough to cause Senators to remove Trump from office. And if Bolton is called, the GOP might also call Biden to smear his candidacy, as well as others. If no witnesses are allowed, however, it gives Democrats an enormous club to beat incumbent Senators with in the 2020 election. The trial was a sham! Republicans don’t care about the truth or the rule of law! Will Bolton’s testimony really change anything? We gain a lot if the GOP covers up Trump’s corruption.
Republican attorneys in the Senate seemed to be hedging their bets that Bolton might eventually appear and confirm that Trump extorted Ukraine, and if so, their response will likely be, “So what?” The ultimate issue is no different than it was when the whistle blower complaint first emerged.
Should a president be removed by impeachment for extorting with taxpayer dollars a foreign country to help him cheat an election?
Does Trump’s indisputable behavior warrant removal from office? Any reasonable person would say Yes, his transgressions betrayed his oath and threaten the heart of our Democratic process. But anyone wrapped up in Trump’s cult of personality would stick with No. Certainly any Democrat doing what Trump did would be facing just as determined an impeachment effort from Republicans as is being mounted now against Trump.
Assuming Trump remains in office, we have to approach the 2020 election with the best possible strategy–and candidate. With the Iowa caucuses looming next Monday, it’s worth reviewing a thought-provoking article in the New York Times by Ezra Klein. He makes a compelling case that the dynamics at play within the Democratic party are different than the Republican party. Under the right circumstances Republicans can win by appealing only to the most conservative part of their base, while Democrats can win only by appealing to a broader spectrum of voters that include centrists. He makes this important point:
…winning the Democratic primary means winning liberal whites in New Hampshire and traditionalist blacks in South Carolina. It means talking to Irish Catholics in Boston and atheists in San Francisco. It means inspiring liberals without arousing the fears of moderates. It’s important preparation for the difficult, pluralistic work of governing, in which the needs and concerns of many different groups must be balanced against one another.
Here the link:
I will vote for ANY Democratic nominee chosen in the primary, and so will many of you. But despite early polling data that shows many Dem candidates matching up well with Trump, I still question whether Senator Sanders (and to a much lesser degree Senator Warren) would be able to beat Trump in the swing states. At very least the nomination of Sanders would incredibly risky, and its worth noting that the 2018 midterm successes by Democrats in swing districts like NY-19 occurred almost exclusively with centrist candidates. Far left candidates did not do well in 2018. I know a lot of moderate Democrats who are full-blooded capitalists wary of the most liberal wing of the party, and while they would never vote for Trump, some of them just might not vote at all–which is exactly what happened in 2016. The largest factor in Trump’s win was voter apathy among liberals that kept thousands at home in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. The margin of victory was small then and is likely to be small again in the states that matter.
Klein’s critique is worth considering. I’ll post and discuss a similar critique tomorrow.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”