Yesterday, I caught the tail end of a program on public radio about the impeachment proceedings. The segment I heard involved comments by so-called swing voters, i.e. Independents, Libertarians and so-called mainstream Republicans. One such commentator said, (paraphrasing) “I have always voted for the person I thought would do the best job, Democrat or Republican. However, by impeaching the president I feel they are trying to punish me for the choice I made in voting for him and not the president”. Another said he intended to vote straight Republican in the next election to make sure the Democrats are not able to do the same thing in the future. There’s much I could say about comments like that on many different levels, but I’ll make just a couple of observations about them later in this post. But first, I’d like to point out a couple of things about the impeachment process itself.
First of all, the basis for the impeachment, and the threshold for implementing the process, is neither higher, nor lower than in any previous impeachment. When you consider the witnesses interviewed and their status in the administration, how could you not proceed with the process especially when the people who could have easily exonerated the president were ordered not to testify or refused to testify unless the courts ordered them? Their testimony would have nipped the process in the bud months ago if the president was innocent. Why refuse to testify if the president was innocent of the charges? Secondly, anyone who knows Trump and is familiar with his tactics (the entire country has witnessed it over the past three years) knows that he did the things he is accused of doing. Even his defenders in congress have not tried to deny his intent until recently. Their argument has been that since he didn’t succeed and the funds were delivered, there are no grounds for impeachment. But here’s what’s not being considered. If a substantial number of Americans become convinced that elections are not fair and their votes don’t matter, they will conclude, as the Constitution requires, that it is their duty to overthrow the government by force of arms. However, I doubt that will ever happen because if Trump does win the next election, it will mark the official beginning of the imperial presidency, where the law is what the president says is the law and the courts will be packed with Neo-Confederate white supremacist judges. Also will the leaders and rank-and-file of the same intelligence communities and state departs that the current administration is now vilifying, consist of Neo-Confederate white supremacists. Even more chilling, the military leadership will soon consist of mostly Trump supporters. In short, the United States will become Russia. The Democrats were right to initiate this process. Without it there would be no chance for the next election to be conducted with at least a modicum of fairness.
With regard to the Republican swing voters, their comments demonstrate two things. First of all, they have no regard for what voting the way they declared they would, will have on civil rights and the makeup of the Supreme Court and all the lower courts, and the impact that will have on human rights, civil rights and liberties, women’s rights, public education, healthcare and environmental protection. They are more than willing to buy into the Republican Party narrative and can’t be depended on to vote on anything other than the state of the economy, which is all they really care about. The Republican establishment knows they only have to give them an excuse to ignore all the real issues that will ultimately determine the quality of their lives and the lives of their children. Of course, when the money gets shaky, they will vote out anyone currently in office, regardless of party affiliation. Unfortunately, it takes about six years for decisions bad for the economy to cause the economy to collapse in on itself, so that won’t happen for at least another two years.
That brings me to what the Democrats must do to vote Trump out of office. As I have said many times in the past, the Republican Party, including those who go by other names, constitutes about 40% of eligible voters. By eligible, I mean people who have proper ID and only have to first register to vote and then vote. Minorities of color make up another 40% of eligible voters. Only about 70% of minorities of color actually vote. Understand that the Republican base (that 30% of Americans who support Trump no matter what) consists mostly of people who never participated in elections until 2016. That is what will have to happen on the Democrat side. They are going to have to energize people who are struggling to survive from day to day and can’t even think about taking a day off from work to vote. Motivating such people to make the necessary sacrifice to vote is what Obama did. That, and the fact that Republicans had almost completely destroyed the economy is what won the White House for Obama. Without the aid of something akin to a catastrophic economy, it will take the votes of nearly 100% of all eligible minorities of color to vote Trump out. The trouble is, the person running in opposition to Trump would need tremendous charisma to energize that group of people. Biden would get the minorities who normally participate in the election, but that may not be enough. One of the other candidates is going to have to make some bold moves and say bold things, outrageous things that have never been said by serious Democrat politicians before. For example, things like supporting armed militias working with police to patrol drug infested inner city areas to secure inner city neighborhoods. Things like promising to provide the necessary construction and funding to allow for inner city student to teacher ratios to be reduced from about 40 to 1 to 20 to 1. I get chills writing these things down because even I feel uncomfortable with some of such ideas. But they are the kind of bold promises that will produce rallies in inner city and even rural communities similar in size to the Trump rallies. They are the type of issues that typically are only addressed near the end of a Democratic campaign after the candidate is reasonably confident he/she has won over the so-called swing voter. I don’t think that’s going to cut it in this election.
I wish I could say I knew the things that will definitely work in the 2020 election, but I can’t. The only thing I do know is that we Americans can’t afford to apply the same pragmatics we typically apply to a candidate’s worthiness of being elected in 2020. It’s not just the economy. The determination of who gets elected in the next election must be based on that person’s values and ethics, more than anything else. Quality of life issues such as housing, healthcare and environmental integrity must also be considerations. But most of all, it needs to be based on who most is going to serve the interests of democracy and the rule of law. If we lose that, we lose everything; we become a de facto part of a new Soviet Union of Dictatorships.