OpinionOPINION: Impeachment inquiry overshadows Dems’ strategy

ETC StaffDecember 3, 20196 min

Alireza Naraghi, Editor

Since the crucial decision of the Democratic leadership to proceed with impeachment proceedings in the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial phone call with the Ukrainian president, political pundits point to the rising polls in favour of impeachment and wonder if Trump detractors have finally found the smoking gun that could galvanize public opinion in favour of removing the president from office. 

There is another dynamic at play here, however, that isn’t good news for those who oppose the president. Beyond a slight increase in Democratic support in recent polls, there has also been a decrease in support for impeachment among independent voters, according to Vox. 

The latest polling shows there’s strong support among Democrats to impeach the president while Republicans don’t support impeachment. More importantly, voters in swing states aren’t sold on the idea yet. In the key swing state of Wisconsin, for example, opposition to impeachment and removal has nearly doubled, according to a survey of public attitudes from Marquette University’s law school.

A pro-impeachment movement led by the consolidation of the Democratic party will obviously have no impact on the Republican voters who, at present, are supporting Trump and under no circumstances would like to see a Republican president removed from office.

Indeed, a reliable indicator of how impeachment will play out, not within the Washington Beltway, but in November 2020, it’s probably smart to focus on Trump’s overall performance as a president rather than on support for the impeachment inquiry, which many average Americans are hardly following.

For those voters, there are already signs that the “change” candidate they saw in Trump has failed to deliver. This cohort will be even more susceptible to what the Democratic party has to offer if there’s a positive, explicitly inclusive message rather than a fixation on Trump’s disgraceful behavior as a president.

Inspiring emotion with a message of hope is often more effective than focusing on issues only a few political junkies care about.

The evidence this approach is more potent is Trump himself, a man who has nothing to offer but a digestible message centred around a hollow anti-establishment political posture.

For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent inter- view that Trump’s wall is a vision.

“Whether you like it or whether you hate it…it’s a tangible vision that is symbolic and representative and galvanizing,” she said. “And if we do not have an ambitious, in- spiring, galvanizing vision, I think we risk losing even more.”

The age of mass politics is one that demands radical solutions rather than tinkering. The appeals of both Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are rooted in their authenticity and their long-term record against economic injustice.

Indeed, there’s a new mass politics brewing that offers a blueprint to defeat Trump’s fake brand of populism through genuine left- wing populist politics.

In a democratic society, presidents should not be immune from prosecution, and Democrats should follow all the legal options to defend democratic norms. But it’s even more important to make sure economic inequality, the lack of healthcare, and people’s moral rights to housing and secure employment are addressed.

That means talking more about the structural flaws within the system that paved the way for Trump’s victory and less about impeachment, which many in working-class families hardly care about.

It is that sense of resurgence of personal power Democrats must tap into and Trump certainly fears, not a Democratic-sponsored impeachment to remove him from office.