Democratic Divide on Impeachment Does Not Bode Well for 2020
There are a lot of divisions in the Democratic Party, but perhaps none more emotional than the divide over whether or not to impeach Donald Trump.
In truth, most of the fractures in the party aren't necessarily along ideological lines, rather they are over process. Just how radical should the party be? Party elders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer want to tone down the more radical proposals coming from the Ocasio-Cortez/Bernie Sanders wing of the party, especially when it comes to the Green New Deal and Medicare for all. Establishment Democrats may support those proposals to one degree or another, but recognize that they are political poison in a national campaign.
But it is impeachment that will reveal where the hearts of the Democratic base truly are. Pelosi and Schumer have no illusions about the success of an impeachment effort, knowing that even if the House impeaches Trump, there is zero chance in the Senate for Democrats to get the 65 votes necessary to remove the president. They also know that an unsuccessful impeachment effort in a presidential election year is a crap shoot. It might energize their rabid base but turn off the rest of the country.
But Pelosi and Schumer aren't exercising much control. They are passengers on the impeachment bandwagon and despite a lack of agreement among Democrats over whether what Trump did that was impeachable, the effort to remove Trump is picking up steam.
On Friday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the first major Democratic presidential candidate to call for the House to begin impeachment proceedings based on the results of Mueller's probe.
“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States,” Warren said via Twitter.
The "severity of this misconduct"? Pardon me, Lizzy, but shouldn't there be, like, you know, a specific charge of "misconduct" before you impeach a president? "Trump is a poopey head" is hardly an article of impeachment.
But for many Democrats, it's enough.
"I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Congress to open up those proceedings," Castro said, adding, "They're going to decide whether they're going to go down that route. For me, I'm running for president."
Other 2020 candidates have shied away from calling for Trump's impeachment and suggested it's either premature or overly divisive. A staffer for one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls told Yahoo News they thought Warren's push for impeachment was an effort to grab attention in a crowded field.
"She might think this looks bold, but it just looks desperate. Throw the policy white papers out the window, she's now just appealing to the lowest common denominator," the staffer said.
The mayor of South Bend, Ind., is outpolling Elizabeth Warren among Democrats. Warren isn't desperate. She's drowning and reaching for an anchor to save herself.
Pelosi is going to try to blunt impeachment momentum in a Monday conference call with House Democrats.
"I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the 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. And he’s just not worth it," Pelosi said.
Other top-ranked Democrats have largely echoed Pelosi's line.
After Mueller's report was released on Thursday, Pelosi sent a letter to the Democratic caucus announcing a conference call on Monday to "discuss this grave matter."
You might note that Republicans have remained fairly quiet while Democrats are debating whether they should impeach Trump. They are following the axiom, "Never interrupt your opponents while they are in the process of self-destructing." With both Mueller and the Department of Justice refusing to indict the president, the divide between the crazy left and the more reasonable left will become more pronounced during the primary campaign as some candidates will demand impeachment at all costs and others look to head off what would be a doomed effort to overturn the results of the 2016 election that would almost certainly sicken and disgust the voters and lead to the re-election of Trump.