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writing for godot

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Fight

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Written by Carl Peterson   
Tuesday, 12 March 2019 16:03

Do Not Go Timid Into That Good Fight

 

So, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently announced that impeaching the president is not worth the trouble it would cause: "And he's just not worth it."  But, Speaker Pelosi, what about our country? Is it worth it?  Just wondering.  And why did you personalize this issue to make it about the worth of this particular individual?  I thought you knew, as a lot of us out here know, that as bad as this president is we also have other problems that go much deeper than the person of this transitory fool.  But at least one of these problems can only be addressed by impeaching the president.

According to the New York Times, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler had previously said that he would not want to try impeachment of the president "unless he had substantial Republican support," which is the same thing as saying that until the president's base turns on him [i.e., when hell freezes over,] Nadler will not support impeachment of the president, period, no matter what the objective evidence of the president's crimes and incapacity for discharging the responsibilities of the presidential office.

So, the story repeats itself.  Republicans pound on American institutions, and the Constitution--the document they claim to adore--as they seek immediate political gain for themselves--and financial gain/power augmentation for their plutocratic masters--at the expense of the nation, while Congressional Democratic leadership--triangulation and timidity apparently now grown into their DNA--finds reasons for not defending the Constitution, even though they have taken an oath of office that includes the promise:  "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Maybe Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler interposed a whispered disclaimer just after this part of the oath: Unless defending the Constitution will upset the Establishment's apple cart such that it might hurt our party's chances in the next election.

Note: Nancy and Jerry grew up politically in the Clinton era of New Democrats in which the Democratic party pursued policy goals that had been Republican goals previously always distasteful to Democrats, but which Clinton gladly poached for political gain.  It worked for Clinton at the ballot box, but infuriated Republicans, who then impeached him for behavior that at the time seemed to most Americans to amount to peccadilloes, but now--in comparison to the current president's never-ending demonstrations of unfitness, and mounting evidence that this president has long been a criminal--need a microscope to be seen.  As for the president's base, who knows what kind of visual aid would enable them to see the mountainous evidence of his transgressions?

There was another cost to the Democratic party's abandonment of its ideals: Its remaining soul, to the extent that it still had one, leaked away.  Democrats didn't excite anybody anymore.  They didn't seem to stand for anything really, much.  So, while for awhile they pulled in more Independents and even a few Republicans at election time, many lifelong Democrats didn't have a solid reason to come out and vote Democratic.  Given its shift to the right, followed by a further shift to the right of the Republican party, the Democratic party had to come up with a decent reason for why Democrats should continue to vote Democratic.  That is when the Democratic party began to carry out the never-named Good Cop/Bad Cop strategy, which is essentially what Al Gore and John Kerry ran on, even if they were not fully conscious of it.  It was in essence the Bill Clinton triangulation strategy modified by emphasizing what a Bad Cop the Republicans were and how mean and scary the Bad Cop was, and promised that the Good Cop Democrats would always be [marginally] to the left of, and nicer than, the Republicans.  Hillary Clinton ran on the Good Cop/Bad Cop strategy twice, and didn't seem to think that she needed to offer Democratic voters much of a positive message beyond that.

Obviously, that it is a pathetic strategy, because if both parties are cops then they are really on the same team--but it was reasonably effective, effective enough to allow Democrats to win the popular vote in the 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.  But the very low quality of the Republican candidates who won presidential elections in 2000, 2004, and 2016 suggests that when the Democratic party lost what was left of its soul in 1992 it also lost its excitement and competitiveness.  It could not even defeat the opponents who would become the two worst presidents in American history.

Nancy Pelosi shows her New Democrat pedigree when she explains why she is not for impeaching the president.  "Impeachment is so divisive to this country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country."  One of the key words here, as it was with Jerry Nadler's stated position on impeachment is "bipartisan."  Pelosi is implying as Nadler did, that impeachment is effectively off the table because the president's base would need to turn against him before Republicans in Congress will turn against him, and the president losing his base is a very unlikely short or medium-term eventuality.  Pelosi is ceding to the president's base, as Republicans in Congress have ceded much of their power to the president, her power as Speaker of the House over the decision to pursue impeachment proceedings.  This presents the bizarre tableau of the Democratic Speaker of the House taking her cues on impeachment from that distinct minority of the national electorate constituted almost entirely by voters of the opposing party, voters unreflectively devoted to the person who is the subject of the impeachment talk!  No wonder professional Republicans have jumped the hedges of sanity!  For so long they have had no opponent willing to keep them honest...

Pelosi worries about divisiveness.  But of course she has noticed as most of us have that Americans are already very divided.   Maybe she hasn't understood that this division has been caused not just by a differences in opinions about certain issues, but by differences in basic perceptions of political and even physical reality.  These are profound differences that will not be finessed productively, and are unlikely to suddenly evaporate.  I keep getting the image of a madman breaking everything in the house and instead of trying to stop him, Pelosi and Nadler take up brooms, sweeping as the madman goes, hoping that he will tire soon.  Well, maybe, but there is not much evidence that the madman or his fans are about done.

Professional Democrats have lost the fear and respect of their Republican opponents because for so long they have operated cautiously to a fault and therefore predictably.  Professional Republicans are not braver than professional Democrats; as a matter of fact this is probably the most craven, servile group of Republicans to ever serve in Congress--servile to the plutocracy--not to regular Americans--and they frighten easily, as shown by their fear of their plutocratic masters and the president's base.  Pelosi and Nadler ought to show some carefully conceived unpredictability, not foreclose options early and punt on first down.  I am not advocating bold, yet plain, stupidity.  Pelosi and Nadler should take a calculated risk or two.  To paraphrase Machiavelli, Fortune sometimes favors those brave enough to intelligently take the risk.

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