Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A prize bigger than impeachment starts with Trump twisting slowly in the wind

Joe Lockhart, White House press secretary from 1998 to 2000, asks us to see that There’s a Bigger Prize Than Impeachment. He says “Keeping Trump in office will destroy the Republican Party.” Following are snippets from the NY Times article. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

President Trump should be impeached because he is unfit for the presidency. He represents a clear and present danger to our national security. We didn’t need Robert Mueller’s report for that. But if Newt Gingrich taught us anything, impeaching the president is likely to be bad politics.

For Democrats, leaving Donald Trump in office is not only good politics — it is the best chance for fundamental realignment of American politics in more than a generation. Mr. Trump is three years into destroying what we know as the Republican Party. Another two years just might finish it off. Trumpism has become Republicanism, and that spells electoral doom for the party.

Mr. Trump has abandoned most of the core principles that have defined Republicans for the past century. Free trade abandoned for protectionism. Challenging our adversaries and promoting democracy replaced by coddling Russia and cozying up to dictators near and far. Fiscal conservatism replaced by reckless spending and exploding deficits.

What’s left of the party is a rigid adherence to tax cuts, a social agenda that repels most younger Americans and rampant xenophobia and race-based politics that regularly interfere with the basic functioning of the federal government.

I fully understand the historical imperative of holding the president accountable for his behavior. I also share the sentiment of so many Americans who want to punish him for what he’s done to the country. But I believe there is something bigger at stake.

Allowing Mr. Trump to lead the Republican Party, filled with sycophants and weak-willed leaders, into the next election is the greater prize. Democrats have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realign American politics along progressive lines, very much like Ronald Reagan did for Republicans in the 1980s.

Trumpism equals Republicanism as long as Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket. And a real shift to progressivism in America will be delivered by a devastating rebuke of the president and his party, a rebuke that will return control of the Senate and state houses across the nation. Politics is always a gamble — and this is the best bet we’ve had in a long time.

We Dems must play the long game. In the short term, impeaching Trump would be morally satisfying to many of us. However, we might be able to achieve that end, not by impeachment (after which the GOPlins in the Senate would not vote to convict), but by censure which does not require senate approval. (See my post Censure as a viable alternative to impeachment of the president.) Censure would put us on record as disapproving of and condemning Trump and Trumpism. But Trump would remain on the ballot thus inviting an even greater condemnation by the nation.

And envision what Trump will face with strong resistance from the House and the disapproval of the American people.

To borrow some advice from Words of Watergate as they apply to Trump: “Well, I think we ought to let him hang there,” Ehrlichman told Dean. “Let him twist slowly, twist slowly in the wind.”

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