In our media-driven culture of 24-hour news and rapidly breaking headlines, some say House Democrats are running out of time to make the case for impeachment. This is exacerbated – falsely, I think – by the looming Presidential election. One factor, however, political observers agree on is this: if held today, House Republicans would vote against impeachment. The same is predicted in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority.
As a psychotherapist, I’ve learned people rarely change their minds via rational argument, no matter how potentially destructive the consequences. If you have to repeat yourself, like House Democrats and legal analysts have been doing, that’s a sign no one is listening. It has become increasingly apparent no argument or evidence will sway Congressional Republicans. Donald Trump has remained in office because of an insidious campaign by Republican lawmakers, Party officials and right-wing media outlets to keep him there.
It was no different during Nixon’s impeachment. As James Robenalt recalls in a piece for The Washington Post, “although the timeline gets compressed in our collective memory, the ‘drip, drip, drip’ of revelations about Watergate came over a full two years.” In fact, “Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote relentlessly about the scandal [but] Americans were largely unmoved.”¹
As someone who has grown up her entire life in the DC Metro Area, I forget not everyone is as intrigued as I by politics. Over the past two weeks, every moment I wasn’t with a patient, I was riveted by the testimony of LTC Alexander Vindman, Ambs Marie Yovanovitch and William B. Taylor, Jr, Diplomats George Kent and David Holmes, and Russia expert, Fiona Hill. Beyond the evidence, no honest person could be anything but impressed by their professionalism and moved by their patriotism.
So if evidence of bribery, risks to our national security, and appeals to patriotism don’t sway Republicans, what will? The answer may be in recent reports implicating the President’s inner circle. I always say people have good reasons for making bad decisions. Clearly, what drives all the President’s men, is not ideology, policy or patriotism. It’s fear over their own political survival. Make no mistake, when it is no longer politically (and criminally) expedient to protect the President, Republicans will turn on him, just like they’ve turned on the country.
If House Democrats allow themselves to be pressured by the upcoming election, then they’re as guilty as Republicans of succumbing to politics. The President and his inner circle, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, former Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, and former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, are on the defensive, and rightly so. They have a lot to answer for. Let them.
If Republicans want to drag out the impeachment process, so be it. It is easier to run against a President who is under investigation than one who’s acquitted. Republicans are trying to make Democrats the bad guys for holding Donald Trump accountable. If the country is tired of scandals, tired of hearings and investigations, tired of the lies and the tweets, tired of seeing Members of Congress bicker like children, agree with them and point to Trump.
Americans are suffering from scandal overload. Democrats offer a return to normalcy. The “problem,” as it were, is that Democrats tend to struggle with creating a message voters can relate to. We are the substantive Party, the nuts and bolts Party, the Party that tends to argue policy rather than ideology. While “inside the beltway” nerds, like myself, eat this stuff up, apparently, the majority of Americans do not.
Over the last two weeks, I asked some of my patients if they were watching the hearings. Some did not even know they were on. Those who did were not paying close attention. The Republicans would like to frame this as evidence the country doesn’t care. But since when did most voters pay close attention to the machinations of government? In fact, the country has been more engaged than ever. The ratings jump for mainstream news is testament to this. The problem is there’s just so much of it!
Unlike a trial in a court of law, the purpose of an impeachment inquiry is, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated, “to take the case to the American people.” While the hearings proved that President Trump bribed Ukraine, Congressional Republicans and the right-wing media continue to deny, deflect and distract from this fact. It is no wonder the country is divided on impeachment. Just imagine if Republicans showed leadership and honored their oath of office. Imagine if Congress stood united against this rogue President. Does anyone doubt the polls for impeachment would increase?
So, I urge Democrats to be patient. Be guided by fact, not politics. Continue to gather evidence (with the help of the press and advocacy groups) and take it “back to the forest.” Americans may not follow all the intricacies of diplomacy, but I doubt they want a President who thinks he’s above the law.