Did Democrats just fumble on the one yard line? No, they’re still in possession.
But this is the biggest indication yet that we are playing Trump’s game.
By putting forward just two Articles of Impeachment, excluding anything relating to the Mueller Report, and signing a landmark piece of Trump legislation all in the same day. Have Democrats really just fumbled on the one yard line?
At best, they have detracted from what could have been the most important day for them since impeachment began, at worst, they have handed Trump an asset in his re-election bid.
This might be shocking for Washington-types who obsess over complex games of political chess, but winning is more important, and yesterday did not harm Democrats’ chances of that.
Primarily this is because the impeachment process so far has demonstrated that facts are simply not valued in the way they once were. So far Democrats have assumed that by virtue of having facts on their side the public will, sooner or later, understand and come around to seeing the light, ignoring the Republican bluff. Even if Trump is acquitted in the Senate, voters are smart enough to see what is in front of their eyes. There is little evidence to suggest that is working, however.
To make matters worse for Democrats, Republicans are turning this into a partisan bear-pit. Ludicrous banners, incoherent rants, and out-right lies are turning voters off, whatever their persuasion. To voters, it all looks the same. Broken. Ineffective. A waste of time. Despite one side being in possession of the facts, they’re just both as bad as each other.
What is good for voters is seeing bipartisan cooperation. The overwhelming majority aren’t checking in to Washington antics every waking hour. They want to see stuff getting done; there’s never a bad time to do that stuff.
If facts mattered and were valued, Democrats would be able to produce a litany of charges longer than the phantom boarder wall (which hasn’t been built), far, far beyond that of just what happened with Ukraine. For example, Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law says “The Mueller report cites a number of facts that indicate the president of the United States obstructed justice.” Another impeachable offence.
Currently it is more of a case from where to end rather than where to start: Abuse of the emoluments clause, encouraging foreign investment in his personal business, locking children in cages, pardoning war criminals, lying about FBI’s work, handling of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and withdrawal of support for Kurdish fighters. While not all are impeachable offences, it is undeniable that in a normal world, Donald Trump is guilty of far more than just two chargers.
Instead, we have abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It is a nod to the Trumpian world that we live in that Democrats feel the most effective way to challenge Republicans is to simply ignore major executive abuse committed by the President.
If you can just about reconcile the limited Articles Democrats brought forward, then how do you explain them getting into bed with Republican leaders and passing the seminal piece of Trump’s legislative agenda? The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or “USMCA” or “The New NAFTA.”
For some, this is bizarre timing. How can you simultaneously think the President is not fit for office while also agreeing to back his policies?
But it is not as simple as that. Signing this deal addresses two defining criticisms Trump will level at Democrats for the next year. Firstly, that they’re radical, and secondly that they’re ‘Do Nothing’.
Democrats — particularly those who are up for re-election in swing districts next year — can quite comfortably say they are not radical, in fact, when sensible, legislation comes to the floor they are more than willing to work with the President and Republican leadership to support it. In other words, they’re not simply out to get the President because they don’t like him.The rebuttal against the later accusation is therefore self-evident. Why would you not want to support it?
The ‘gottacha!’ moment is increasingly out of reach because Congressional Republicans simply live in a different reality. One in which Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the election, Joe Biden is crook, and Donald Trump is a on a global pursuit to tackle corruption. Politics simply doesn’t work according to facts anymore so if Democrats need to put the charges against the President into two, neat, easy to read boxes, then that’s fine. And if they need to support his landmark legislation to combat ‘Do Nothing’ claims, then that is fine, too.
This is about winning in 2020, and one random day in the middle of December won’t determine that. Democrats are still in possession of the ball, for now.