As the formal impeachment case comes unraveled, making removal of President Trump increasingly unlikely, Democratic strategy is shifting. Impeachment and removal – reversing the 2016 presidential election – was the initial Democratic endgame. That objective has run aground. The new goal is delegitimizing a 2020 Trump win.
Look closely, and you will see the colors of impeachment changing. The headlong rush to sully America’s chief executive, arguing by insinuation, inference and presumption he should be removed for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress,” has all-but-failed.
More Americans are convinced that no further witnesses should be called than want them, 48 percent to 44. House managers, sensing slippage of interest among swing senators, began last week going shrill.
Lead House prosecutor Adam Schiff, who refused material witnesses, transparency and due process in his House hearings, last week labeled the President a “tyrant,” “king,” “cheat,” “danger,” and then rolled out a new canard: The 2020 election is already tainted, has been preemptively delegitimized.
In short, Schiff advanced a two-for-one scheme, that the President – if he cannot be impeached for past actions – must be preemptively impeached to avoid a “tainted” 2020 win, and short of that Americans must understand a 2020 Trump win is illegitimate.
Breathtaking is one word for this remarkable assertion; obsessive might be another. At root, Schiff’s “preemptive impeachment doctrine” boils down to utter disdain and distrust of the American People. He has concluded that, if the American People reelect Donald Trump, they have made a mistake, been deceived, or he has cheated.
Of course, Democrats’ chief fear – which lately animates their every move – is that President Trump, for whom they harbor visceral and personal dislike, may be reelected by the American People. That result looms so largely the only way they see of winning is to delegitimize the win preemptively.
Like Nadler, who warned impeachment is necessary to avoid the future “danger” of Trump becoming a “dictator,” Schiff – and House Democrats – seem to believe, short of removal for cause, Trump must be removed for imaginary future sins. And if preemptive removal is not possible, then his 2020 win must be preemptively discredited on the basis that he “cheated.”
The desperation in this Democratic ploy is more than evident; it is disheartening, an attack on America’s electoral process, the predicate of democracy, the cornerstone of our Constitution and republic, the idea that Americans can be trusted to elect leaders through free and fair elections.
The ugly truth in this desperate pivot is that Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler – indeed, all those who see the world through their darkly tinted lens – do not trust the American people, American voters, that is – you. The only reason to preemptively delegitimize the 2020 presidential election – throwing the kitchen sink at the American voter – is because these Democratic leaders do not trust the American voter.
In one sense, none of this is new. Origins of the Russia probe – what is known today, including machinations within the Obama White House, CIA, Justice Department, FBI and FISA Court – suggest an early fear that the American people, not so much the Russian Government, might turn away from Democrat control of the Executive branch, away from Obama-era progressivism, apart from what Hillary Clinton promised to deliver.
But this latest act, a bold attempt to preemptively undermine faith in the 2020 vote, delegitimizing a second Trump Administration, is something that truly “wows” even seasoned observers of partisan recriminations and historic political battles.
Can you imagine Democrat Adlai Stevenson stomping his feet a year before Eisenhower beat him, saying the win was unfair, demanding a do-over if he lost? Or Jimmy Carter preemptively deriding Ronald Reagan, saying the danger Reagan presented to Democrats required he be displaced, that Americans got tricked? Or George Herbert Walker Bush saying Bill Clinton’s victory was invalid, since Clinton was a lousy choice, Americans had blown it? No, none of those eventualities was even thought about.
Yet here we are, in the Brave New World of “anything goes” partisanship, witnessing not just – to borrow Alan Dershowitz’s title – “guilt by accusation.” Still, preemptive removal of elected leaders, including a president, to avoid policy outcomes we do not want to see.
The word that comes to mind, after disheartening, obsessive, and breathtaking, is disgusting. Americans are proud of our Constitution, Bill of Rights, due process, and a long history of free and fair elections. We are not easily cowed into giving up any of those – or faith in these hallmarks of our republic.
The current impeachment spectacle will wind down shortly, and leave most Americans relieved, some exhausted, others just shaking their heads. Whatever reasonable people think of President Trump’s tweets, style, priorities, and personality, whatever they think of a distraught, divided, overwrought, and somewhat discombobulated Congress, they are likely to retain faith in their own voices.
Those voices – our voices – are always important, and have been since the founding of this pathbreaking, history-making, freedom-preserving republic. But in 2020, given the Democratic House Managers’ pivot to a preemptive attack on the 2020 elections, the voice of average Americans will be more critical than ever. The goal of preemptively delegitimizing the 2020 election – simply cannot stand.