Saturday, May 18, 2019

Feckless Representation


House Democrats need to impeach Trump.  Otherwise, they saddle themselves with the onus of stunning cowardice.  Not just in the eyes of our descendants, but in terms of current electability.  As it stands, Democrats are defending the Constitution by choosing not to defend it.  Trump's dictatorial bent assails our tricameral system with the dark charisma of an insurgent white nationalism.  Democrats see this. They offer stark warnings in their ominous oratory.  And yet they refuse to use their Constitutional powers.  Some, like Elizabeth Warren, have taken the plunge and now stand for impeachment.  Why does the leadership waffle?

The strategy, sadly, is to be political but unethical:  to avoid doing what's right--where right is based on the principle of challenging a burgeoning tyrant--until enough American citizens agree that it's right.  Even in terms of practical expediency, it is a pitiable bungle.  It means Democrats look passive.  False leaders.  Trump, on the other hand, comes across as seizing the helm, assertive, instead of letting the ship drift in the currents.  Importantly, although his mendacity is well-known, Trump presents as serving key constituent beliefs, whereas Democrats project timorous apprehension.

Strength versus weakness.  Principled offense versus compromised defense.  Which will 2020 prefer?

From a calculating perspective, some high-power Dems think they can win next year by not rocking the boat.  Polls show that a formidable number of voters refuse to cast a ballot for Trump.  Encouraging, also, is the momentum that flipped control of the House.  However, the zeitgeist of each political season is a fickle thing, and the mindset of voters is often misread, sometimes egregiously.  Witness, for instance, the much predicted Clinton victory that never came to pass.  Quantitative crunching cannot encapsulate qualitative irreducibles.

Democrats still aren't facing the framing factors that toppled both party machines in 2016.  It's fair to say that all voters want leaders who say and do what they believe.  High on the list of odious traits is mealymouthism, a rhetorical cloak of vacillation that often hides shady politics.  The extensive corruption, decades old, that erected a golden ladder for Trump is well-known across the demographic spectrum.  Any politician that wants a leg up this political season should use the wealth-gap distribution curve as their logo.

Right now, when it comes to protecting the Constitution, it is the Democrats who own mealymouthism.  Trump can legitimately say he is pushing to build the wall and punish China.  Can the Pelosians say they are defending the Constitution by holding Trump accountable?   House leadership says they are aware of the imminent, extreme danger that Trump presents, and yet they refuse to employ the powers assigned to them, for the very purpose of protecting the United States from people like our current President.  

Some say that impeachment proceedings will insure that Trump gets to 'run against the House'.  Guess what?  He's going to run against the House no matter what.  Spineless fence-sitting will make it even easier.   It's easy to imagine how it will go:  "Look at 'em.  They don't even have the guts to try and impeach me, folks.  Why?  Because they know I'm clean.  It's all a witch-hunt, folks."

Another objection is that, after the House votes for impeachment, the Senate won't vote to convict.  This argument gets things backwards.  Senate complicity in tyranny is all the more reason to stand up to tyranny.  Let's, please, avoid the metaphor of a nuclear power plant meltdown.  A situation in which none of the fail-safes meant to prevent a catastrophe actually tripped. 

Failsafe devices don't have a conscience.  Presumably our Democratic leadership does.  And if they don't act, their utter debacle will engrave itself not just on the history of the United States, but also world civilization.