Trump Is Enflaming the Country in Racism, Shredding Our Constitutional Democracy, Committing Crimes With Impunity. Isn't It Time to Impeach, Madam Speaker?

July 21, 2019

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ( Official Photo )

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Official Photo)

David Jay Morris

Nancy Pelosi’s Maginot Line

An Open Letter About Impeachment to the Speaker of the House

Dear Madam Speaker,

It’s commonly said that too many generals set their countries up for disaster by preparing to fight the last war.  The classic example of this is France’s reliance on its “invincible” Maginot Line in the run-up to World War II.  Running along the French-German border most of the way from Switzerland in the south to the Arden Forest and Belgium in the north, this well-defended, massive system of interlocking reinforced concrete gun emplacements, machine gun nests and trenches was designed to stop any potential German assault. 

It probably would have done so if the Germans had been following the standard WWI playbook of direct frontal assaults.  Unfortunately for France – and the world – Germany had developed the entirely new tactic of the Blitzkrieg. In a matter of weeks its massed tank formations, mechanized infantry, air power and clever battlefield engineering allowed Hitler’s forces to punch through Holland and Belgium and outflank the Maginot Line, rendering it completely useless.

I’m sorry to say it, Madam Speaker, but your oh-so-cautious and careful handling of the impeachment question strikes me as more of the same. You seem to be looking back at the Clinton proceedings and – with insight worthy of the French designers of the Maginot Line – have concluded that the best strategy is to hunker down, take it slow, and not do anything that might stir things up too much.

In short, you seem to be preparing for the last war, and not recognizing that, with the rise of Trump and the worldwide movement of right-wing pseudo-populism, the political battlefield has changed in basic ways.  You appear to be making a number of assumptions that are fundamentally flawed:

1. The 2020 election will proceed in something approaching a free and fair way.Seriously Madame Speaker?  Have you not been paying attention to everything that has been happening since the 1990s, and especially since Putin threw his hat in the ring for Trump in 2016?  One can only imagine how he will assist Trump his time – and given their record on voter suppression, gerrymandering and dirty tricks, my expectations for the RNC and their minions are just as bad.

2. It is certain the 2020 election will take place at all.Let’s face it, Trump’s next stop after the presidency is likely to be prison.  Knowing Trump as you do, do you really think that, if defeat looks certain, he would hesitate to cancel or postpone the 2020 election if he can find any possible way to do so ? If anything has become clear over the last three years, it is surely that Trump has no boundaries at all and he will stop at nothing to protect himself and his money. 

3. Trump will accept defeat and leave office if he loses.Even back in 2016, our “Dear Leader” made it clear he would consider any outcome other than his winning as rigged.  With the stakes so much higher for him now (spending the rest of life in prison, loss of all his family’s fortune, etc.), is there any reason to think he wouldn’t make good on this threat following a loss in 2020.

I for one do not put anything past him.  Does he need a good excuse?  How about getting his buddy Putin’s FSB to play with the results in selected districts to benefit the Democrats so that Trump can point to them as examples of deep state shenanigans?  (While actually flipping far more votes over to his side, of course.) And insurrection by his base, count on it. They are the gun-toters, after all.

4. Impeachment would significantly increase the Trump cult’s fanaticism. Have you never watched a Trump rally?  This is not a political movement, it is a cult.  And like any cult, the leader can do no wrong and must be followed no matter what.  Trump’s ability to fire up his base is unparalleled.  If it isn’t over impeachment, it will be racism, “socialism,” “anti-Americanism” or whatever…and whatever it is, with his followers, it will work. Come 2020, they will be fired up and ready to go.  Period.  Full stop.

5. People care more about narrow pocketbook issues than the fate of democracy and the future of the world.Some of them, for now, maybe.  But that is before the large majority of them have had the issues presented to them clearly on TV and in the media…and repeated over and over until they start to sink in. 

6. Republicans in the Senate will never abandon Trump, so any impeachment effort is doomed to fail. -  If you must look to the past, a much more useful comparison than the Clinton impeachment proceedings would be the Watergate hearings.  When they started, Nixon enjoyed strong support in both his party and the country as a whole.  When people saw for themselves the depth of his depravity, however, even the congressional Republicans turned on him. Even from what we know from unclassified sources, it seems obvious that Tricky Dick’s transgressions were nothing compared to Trump’s.  Why not place the Senate (and House) Republicans in the position of having to either publicly demonstrate their immorality by supporting the unsupportable, or follow whatever is left of their consciences and turn on their party leader? Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

Make no mistake, in the short run a second term for Trump will mark the end of America’s experiment with democracy. In the longer term, the willful ignorance of Trump and his cronies will make it impossible for any meaningful action to prevent runaway climate catastrophe. In the best case, this would lead to devastating damage to human society and countless other animal species by the mid-century. The worst-case scenario, however – the evidence for which seems to be growing on an almost daily basis – is the extinction of the human race and most other life on the planet by no later than 3000. 

Now is not the time for timidity.  As with the French defense based on the Maginot Line, that which seems safest is likely to be the road to catastrophe.  Can we really afford to take it slow and let Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin get all of the pieces in place for their next – and potentially final – blitzkrieg on American democracy?  In the same way that it was too late to mount an effective defense once Hitler’s Panzer divisions were streaming across the border, once you let an unbloodied and unchallenged Trump loose on the electorate in 2020, it will be too late to prevent whatever insane perversion of our system he brings to the fight this time.

The only reliable way to save our republic – and the world – is to totally and completely discredit Trump well before the 2020 election.

It is a given that his real hardcore supporters – the terrified 35 or 40% made up of genuine racists, white nationalists and pseudo-Christian nationalists – will never desert him.  We must keep his base limited, while energizing the Democratic and Independent vote..

Fortunately, for us, the Republicans themselves have shown us exactly how this can be done – the “politics of personal destruction.”  Through a ceaseless stream of character assassination and “investigations” into utter nonsense (think e-mails and Benghazi), they were able to turn Hillary Clinton, a genuinely dedicated, intelligent and effective public servant into “crooked Hillary.” If the Republicans could do that to her, imagine what your team could do to Trump.  However, you must not pull your punches. You must be tenacious. You must not be timid.

Unlike the folks on the other side, however, you wouldn’t need to rely on lies and innuendo.  Heck, you wouldn’t even need to use much in the way of spin or exaggeration.  Just get everything in his vast closet full of skeletons out to the public…every day and on television.  Don’t give him the benefit of the doubt for anything.  He’s shown he doesn’t deserve it. 

Do what Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe suggests and open House impeachment inquiries now.  But don’t feel any obligation to wrap things up nicely and send them to the Senate until they demonstrate they are willing to put country (and basic morality) over party. Let it be a steady drip, drip, drip of ever-increasing scandal and greater and greater proof of corruption and illegalities. As we move closer to 2020, let the evidence mount and mount and mount until Trump’s true law-breaking, depravity, incompetence, narcissism, corruption and greed are incontrovertible.

And please, please, please, take a page out of the Republican Party playbook and get everyone on our side to learn for once how to message.  Follow Donny Deutsch’s recommendation and brand the exercise as an in-depth investigation into the crimes of Donald Trump – and make sure everyone uses that word constantly, along with the words, liar, cheat, incompetent fraud, racist, con man and failure. Trump is going to tar the Dems as unpatriotic, socialists and advocates for people of color. You let him proceed with that racist and demagogic narrative or you impeach him.

And mever, never, never cede the legitimacy of the 2016 election and the Trump presidency. 

You need to go on the attack – hard – now.  But talk about a target-rich environment!  Trump and his administration are veritable cornucopias of impeachable offenses.  Where does one even begin? 

One begins with the launching of impeachment hearings. Otherwise the authoritarian Trump will prevail over the meek.