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May 18 2017

Beware The ‘Gifts’ Of The Jinn

Otherwise known as Genies your wish, as they say, is their command. The results are seldom satisfying and often self destructive.

This piece has some “category errors” (h/t Lambert). The Institutional Democratic Party is hardly any definition of “progressive” and certainly is not representative of “The Left”. There is apparently little or no interest at all in improving the conditions of working class people, breaking up corporate monopolies, regulating financial criminality, or providing public goods like increased Social Security, defending Public Schooling, and providing Universal Health Care (as opposed to “access to health insurance“). Even on the “Identity Politics” side Institutional Democrats have shown themselves reluctant supporters of Women’s Reproductive Rights, defenders of Voting Rights, regulators of Police Murders of Minority Citizens, and extenders of Civil Liberties including to LGBT communities and restoring fundamental Constitutional protections.

I’ll note that these are all policies with majority support among the electorate, if not the donor class.

That said I think it makes an interesting point- get rid of The Donald and you get the equally crazy and complicit Pence. Get rid of Pence (did I mention equally complicit?) and you get Paul “Granny Starver” Ryan who the Versailles Villagers think is a “reasonable” Republican even though his initiatives are draconian transfers of wealth from the 99% to the .01%.

The point is that the only thing Trump has going for him at this point is that he’s so horrible that almost any other Republican would be more effective in achieving their reprehensible goals.

If there is a solution at all it’s to drag this out until we have a House majority in 2018 when impeaching Trump and Pence together (I’m almost sure I mentioned equally complicit) will result in Democratic control of the White House and in the interim investigate and expose the criminality of the current Administration while thwarting its agenda.

The Impeachment Trap: Be Careful What You Wish For
BY Jeff Alson, In These Times
May 16, 2017

Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of an FBI director who was leading the investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia has sparked a new flurry of calls for impeachment.

The impulse is understandable. Comey’s firing is just the latest in a litany of outrageous behavior that’s shredding the credibility of the presidency: from the financial conflicts of interest to the pathological lying to the authoritarian attacks on the judicial branch and the press.

But outrage aside, we must keep one thing in mind: how progressives and Democrats approach impeachment could shape our democracy and the domestic political landscape for a generation. We must focus on what is best for the American people, not on what is worst for our so-called president. I believe it would be a major strategic blunder for the Democratic Party to fall for what I call the Impeachment Trap—the powerful temptation to lead the charge for impeachment without considering the strategic implications.

Since neither impeachment in the House of Representatives nor conviction in the Senate are possible without Republican votes, it is a waste of time and energy for Democrats to promote impeachment in the absence of any Republican support. I am most concerned about the scenario where one or more leading Republicans come on board and entice Democrats to lead a successful impeachment.

If Trump were impeached and convicted, Vice President Mike Pence, a right-wing, evangelical ideologue, would be a much more reliable and competent rubber stamp for the conservative policy agenda. Trump, for all his failings, cannot be counted on to support conservative Republican orthodoxy. While his cabinet picks and early policy proposals have largely catered to right-wing ideology, his policy flip-flops and incompetence make him a very unreliable partner for congressional Republicans. In particular, his positions on Russia, trade, entitlements, and deficits are antithetical to Republican dogma, and recently Trump even applauded Australia’s single payer health care system. And thus far, most of his attacks on immigrants and Muslim refugees have been turned aside by a wall of public outrage and judicial rulings, although we will need to remain extraordinarily vigilant about an emboldened ICE. Pence, on the other hand, who was given a 99 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, would be much more likely to cut Social Security, push National Right to Work, and try to restrict gay marriage, and would probably treat immigrants and refugees just as badly, in order to court the Trump base.

Impeachment would also help restore the damaged Republican brand. Trump lost the popular vote by the largest margin of any incoming president in history. His administration is mired in incompetence, chaos, and suspicion, and has already sparked a massive public resistance. His public approval rating hovers around 40 percent, by far a record low for a new president. If these trends continue, his presidency will be a massive albatross around the GOP’s neck in future elections.

By contrast, the robot-like Pence—despite his extreme right-wing views—would be packaged as a comforting return to normalcy. The relief at no longer having an egotistical lunatic at the helm could provide Pence with a long and generous public opinion honeymoon. Republicans could claim that Trump was “never one of theirs,” and approach the 2020 campaign with the benefit of incumbency and without Trump’s liabilities.

Democratic ownership of impeachment would also cement the loyalty of working-class Trump voters to the Republican Party. Republican incumbents in swing districts could spin impeachment as a partisan witch hunt. Trump would become a martyr, and his voters would blame Democrats. This is a terrible outcome for progressives who want to move the Democratic Party back to its economic justice roots.

Most important to progressives, Democratic ownership of impeachment would sacrifice the historic opportunity to integrate the massive anti-Trump resistance into a revitalized progressive movement and Democratic Party. A short-term focus on impeachment would divert the focus of many activists away from less glamorous, but more important, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and policy advocacy, and decrease the likelihood of mass grassroots mobilizations on critical issues such as health care, immigration, Planned Parenthood, electoral reform, climate change, and so many others.

For these reasons, I believe a successful impeachment led by Democrats would be a colossal mistake.

Paradoxical as it may seem, however, the best scenario for Democrats is one in which they resist the impeachment trap, the Republicans stand by their president, and Trump, odious as he may be, remains in office. Admittedly, this would extract a major toll on the national psyche and require an active resistance to thwart Trump’s attacks on marginalized groups, but the country would (probably!) survive. From a policy perspective, a paralyzed Trump administration would be far better than a more competent and reliably right-wing Pence presidency. Politically, Trump would become a black eye for the GOP, and the Democratic opposition would remain energized, all of which would favor the Democrats in both 2018 and 2020. An especially delicious scenario is one in which an unpopular Trump insists upon running in 2020, and the Republican Party is torn apart by a war between Trump supporters and the Wall Street, evangelical and libertarian factions that each want to reclaim “their” party.

If the Trump presidency continues to unravel and a constitutional case for impeachment can be made, Democrats can force Republicans into a perilous Catch-22 over whether to own it. If Republicans refuse, they will likely fail to achieve much of their policy agenda, risk permanent damage to their party brand, and weaken their future electoral chances. If they do own impeachment, they blow up the tenuous Republican-Trump coalition. Either way, Democrats can focus their energies on mass resistance and rebuilding an electoral majority.

Let me emphasize that I am not arguing against pursuing the truth about possible Russian collusion through a special prosecutor, nor against holding Trump responsible for financial conflicts of interest. And I agree that Democrats must ultimately vote for a Republican-led impeachment.

But I am arguing that it would be a major strategic mistake for us to focus on impeachment as a top strategic goal, thereby siphoning energy from the progressive movement. As deplorable as Trump is, we must focus our efforts in the next four years on blocking bad public policy and mobilizing for the future, and those goals are better served with Trump than with Pence. If the Republicans figure this out, let them be the ones to expend their energy getting rid of Trump.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

    Vent Hole

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