I have spent the past three years slogging under the assumption that the entire Trump storyline would culminate in some kind of massive, public cataclysm: nukes going off, assassinations, World War III getting under way, etc. Such potential calamities still loom perilously on the horizon. But in the meantime, the horrors of what is being conducted here in America have come in steady waves: Puerto Rico being left for dead, state-sanctioned human rights abuses at the border, law enforcement officials joining online hate groups, tanks on the National Mall, more mass shootings, the president being openly racist and staging hate rallies, and on and on it goes. I would tell you Trump is gonna get someone killed, but he has already fulfilled that prophecy. The catastrophe is already here, and it is growing.
And yet, there is no urgency. All I got is a formal condemnation of a few tweets, and the House couldn't even pull that off without making an embarrassing spectacle of it. A cursory impeachment proposal from Congressman Al Green was easily voted down by a majority of Democrats. And there's obvious symbolism to be found in Trump getting more hateful and frenzied the night an effort to oust him was tabled indefinitely. I am like millions of other suckers who put all their eggs into Robert Mueller’s basket and hoped his work would initiate President Trump’s downfall (Mueller, ever the polite fellow, seemed to encourage this initiation but erred for subtlety when blunt force was so, so necessary), but that never happened. The men beholden to Trump made certain of it, and complacent leadership from Democrats has only served to further enable the opposition.
Two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did her now infamous sitdown with perennial vicious circle wannabe Maureen Dowd, in which Dowd called impeachment a “primal pleasure” and Pelosi explained that Trump “practically self-impeaches” in his daily transgressions, but that actually impeaching him (or at least trying to) would play right into his hands. She also told the Washington Post that trying to remove Trump from office is “just not worth it.” Hence, no serious impeachment proposal is in the offing.
Pelosi is hardly alone among Democrats in avoiding this battle, because so many of them judge impeachment to be a losing one, one that might come back to bite them in the ass in 2020. Every time a Democrat does something halfway wise, smarmy news analysts are like, "Oooh, the GOP'll use that against them for sure!" And so Democrats are skittish about even attempting such partial measures. When they do get around to executing them, they do so as tepidly as possible.
Former Congressional stalwart Barney Frank just gave an impassioned defense of Pelosi to Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker, and it was a cogent defense but enervating in the ways Frank sides with Pelosi is believing Democrats should only take what the defense gives them. This is a constant long game Democrats play, where they assume that sitting tight and giving Republicans enough rope to hang themselves will result in triumph at the ballot box somewhere down the road. That’s victory enough for them, apparently. Pelosi was somewhat validated when this strategy paid dividends this past November and Democrats reclaimed the House. But rather than take that restored power and act as a forceful check on the president, party leaders have elected to again hold back, offer the occasional tut-tut, and place their bets on future elections that could already be prematurely compromised by gerrymandering that has cut off crowded blue areas of the electoral map from the corridors of power, by foreign interference, by the spread of mass disinformation, and by a judiciary now predisposed to strike down any election result it doesn’t care for, or any law that has even a whiff of compassion to it.
Meanwhile, the shit keeps rolling downhill. On the surface of things, I suppose you could be prudent and wait for a white knight 2020 Dem to come riding in on horseback to save the country 16 months from now. On the other hand, where is the URGENCY? Why am I sitting here waiting for leaders to do something meaningful only to find out that so many of them are themselves content on hoping for things to magically improve LATER?
It will be extra terrible if we treat impeachment as some reckless crime of passion instead of the proper action to take against a flagrantly lawless administration.
Believing you can only so much right now is an excuse that Americans like me are tired of hearing. A lot will happen between now and November 2020, and a lot of it will be terrible, just as the past three years have been. And it will be extra terrible if we treat impeachment as some reckless crime of passion instead of the proper action to take against a flagrantly lawless administration. By letting this continue to fester, Democratic leaders are encouraging social complacency. I, being a cosseted suburbanite, walk outside and things are normal, at least in the superficial sense. The street lights work. Local ATMs are still operational. It is not hailing meteorites. And so it’s very easy to be sheltered like me and come to treat what is happening right now as The Way Things Just Are. Doing next to nothing to rid the country of Trump right now, this instant, only helps cement his corruption as an expected, and acceptable, machination of our Federal government. The greater media has little issue going along with this, telling you to pay no mind to that mind behind the curtain. And Democrats seem all too determined to cultivate unity the only way they know how, i.e. via surrender.
What you are witnessing is the triumph of fear. Trump rode to the presidency by stoking fears among his base of immigrant bogeymen and of liberal swamp roamers and all that other horseshit. He has governed with that fear, and he has, in turn, made the opposition far, far too afraid: of him, of displeasing his disproportionately influential voter base, of levying any tangible punishment upon Trump that might incite violence from a sector of Americans who clearly have a taste for it, of upsetting racists (and we are now at the point where the right wing has successfully managed to make “racist” its own unspeakable epithet), and of FIGHTING: of doing the hard work that is clearly needed to stop us from falling into a fucking black hole.
This is where I remind you that Donald Trump is afraid of stairs. There is no more cowardly a pig in this country, and indulging him in his bravado by not initiating formal action against him only encourages more sniveling pigs to come sidling up to the trough. Fatten them up and they only get harder to move out of the way. Impeachment is only a lost cause if you view it in the most fatalistic terms, and if you’re afraid that doing the right thing right now will somehow make you look irrational and weak. It will not. Now matters. It has to, and a lot of people get this. There is no more long game to play. Setting impeachment in motion is not a careless act, nor is it a suicide mission. Quite the contrary: It is a long overdue step in trying to derail a suicide mission we’ve already all been forced to slowly embark upon.
Originally Appeared on GQ