Over the course of the last three weeks, progressives and concerned citizens have been worried about the direction our country is about to take. Of course, Donald Trump is only our president-elect and has not been specific on policy issues. Still, the people he has selected to fill Cabinet positions and to run the West Wing are quite worrying. We will have to take a wait-and-see approach before progressives and concerned citizens can give any hard criticism about actual policy.
However, if we look at some of the actions Donald Trump has taken since being elected our next president, it is worrisome. If we put aside the political rhetoric, he seems to be using his new position for financial gains, which in itself could be a violation of federal law (which still seems kind of fuzzy from what I am reading). Still, the point is that President Trump might do a number of things that could call for him impeachment within his first two years.
What Donald Trump is saying and doing isn’t actually my worry right now. My worry is the Congress. Over the last few weeks, both House and Senate Republicans have cozied up President-Elect Trump, and everything seems to be fine. Additionally, if certain members deviate from the Trump agenda, there is a possibility that they will be challenged in the primary and replaced by a Trump hardliner.
So, what if Donald Trump abuses his power? What if Trump is found guilty of something criminal in his past dealings (which can still be grounds for impeachment, since the Constitution is not clear)? My biggest worry is that the new Congress will not do its Constitutional duty and proceed with impeachment hearings against the president due to party loyalty, as well as worries about primary challenges. If this is the case, then our system of checks and balances will clearly have broken down.
I have mentioned Republican primaries a few times, and that is important. If President Trump does commit what is seen as a “high crime or misdemeanor” by a majority of the population, the impeachment of the president still might not happen because of the majority of voters in GOP primaries might have more of a say in whether a Member of Congress decides to vote for the charges than the population in general. Basically, GOP primary voters will have the most say.
With this being the case, should the Democratic campaign message be “Impeach Trump”. Remember, the Republicans have done this in the past and have been quite successful in winning midterm elections based on this campaign slogan. However, in this case, it is more than a campaign slogan. If there is an outcry for the removal of the president because of his actions in office (and there could be just based on his popularity rating alone), the narrative that Democrats need to put forward is that the only way to remove President Trump is by having a Democratic Congress. This isn’t a campaign slogan, this is just a fact.
Additionally, the “Impeach Trump” message would also be a referendum on Trump’s record in office since it is a midterm election. We do not have a flawed national candidate like Hillary Clinton. Therefore, the message can purely be “are you with Trump or against him”. That is an argument that Democrats can win.
Still, in order for Democrats to use this argument in the campaign, they need to create the narrative. If we look at the Republican playbook, they were able to take Whitewater and blow it up into something that it wasn’t, go on the offensive with “Impeach Clinton” and win the 1994 midterm elections. Luckily for Democrats, we can probably find something a lot more serious than Whitewater.
As far as a campaign message, Trump won because his voters were mad. We lost because our voters were scared. We need to make our voters mad…which is exactly what we did in 2006 and 2008. It will always be a winning strategy. It is time to go for the jugular.
Still, doing an “Impeach Trump” message might be the only message that can flip the Congress. Of course, as Democrats we want to see Congress flipped and claim electoral victory. But with this president, it goes beyond winner or loser, or right and left. The heart of taking back Congress is to maintain the institutional integrity of this republic.