Op-Ed: The U.S. election, impeaching a president, and the law of unintended consequences

PUBLISHED: Fri, 08 Nov 2019 13:57:30 GMT

By David S. Levin, writer from New York

Things are getting pretty edgy here in the United States these days. The 2020 presidential election is a year away and the storm clouds are forming on the horizon. They are dark and foreboding for sure. The country is still reeling from an emotionally unhinged and acrimonious election in 2016 that the majority of the people, half the Congress and roughly 30,000 U.S. journalists have never quite gotten over.

This election though, will be one for the ages. There are 18 Democratic candidates, all outraged at just about everything, and each fighting to be the one that takes on the great orange cyclops, Donald Trump; a rabid and unfiltered army of one, shooting Machiavellian twitter missiles at friend and foe alike.

So, the question is, who will emerge for the Democrats as the nominie and face Trump in the general election next November? That is, assuming he even ends up being the Republican candidate to begin with. He might not. And that’s because the Democrats have a few missiles of their own to help ensure victory in the election and eliminate Trump entirely. One way or the other.

They’ve launched a rancorous and partisan impeachment proceeding against the president intended to crash head-on into the election and ensure that the Democrats win the White House in 2020. And it’s going to blow the country to ideological smithereens. Anyone who thinks that America is a polarised tinderbox now, “ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Since he took office, Trump has been under constant legal and political attacks from all sides. Most of his wounds though, are largely self-inflicted thanks to his complete disregard for the rule of law and any sense of presidential etiquette or protocol. Even Richard Nixon looked honorable by comparison. But Trump has a large, impassioned base of supporters, not to mention 66 million Twitter followers, that he is counting on to push him over the finish line in November.

So, is there a Democrat out there who can beat him? To be sure, they’ve assembled a questionable lineup of candidates. First, there’s former Vice-President Joe Biden, a 77-year-old “moderate” that I’m not sure would actually be able to stay awake for the full four-year term. He’s got a solid resume as a statesman and is well respected in corridors of Washington. But to the younger, more progressive Democrats who are starting to define the party ideologically, he’s part of the problem and from a political era gone by.

Then you have Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Two socialists that want to disassemble America piece by piece. Warren, for one, wants to dismantle the U.S. free enterprise system in favor of something called “accountable capitalism” which is essentially a fundamental reordering of American business and a redistribution of most of the profits to everyone other than the shareholders.

And, finally, there are the other fifteen unimportant Democratic candidates who, if you listen to them, seem to be on some kind of pilgrimage to save mankind from itself. None of them will be in the conversation for long.

The U.S. is in unchartered waters now and everything is riding on the impeachment proceedings. The strategy of “weaponizing” them was not lost on the Democrats. They were smartly timed to either destroy Trump completely or wound him badly enough with the public that he simply can’t win. By their calculus, this is how the Democrats believe they can retake the White House in 2020.

But the prevailing wisdom says the Republican controlled Senate will hold party lines and not impeach him. For all the pomp and circumstance, the votes just aren’t there, and it is unlikely that enough Republicans would cross over and vote to impeach the president. This would leave the Democrats reeling and scrambling for answers. And on the heels of a stinging impeachment defeat, the party would mostly assuredly move even further left. This would badly weaken the moderate, Joe Biden, in the polls leaving Warren or Sanders as the presumptive nominee.

The Democrats remember all too well watching the hapless Republicans stand idly by as Trump steamrolled their party in 2016. Now, many of them shudder as they consider the specter of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders doing the same thing to them. The threat of a socialist taking the helm of the party is simply unthinkable to many Democrats.

So, if Warren or Sanders continue to surge in the polls, and it looks like either one could become the Democratic nominee in July, then you can quite possibly expect a dark horse to enter the race, a late entry by the name of Hillary Clinton.

That’s right, Hillary Clinton. Round Three. Crazy? Not so much. She’s just waiting for the opening. For the right moment. Her public statements of late certainly make it sound like she’s ready to rumble again. And with Biden having likely faded by that point, it will give her the opportunity she’s been looking for.

Hillary to the rescue.

There is a school of thought that believes that Clinton gives the Democrats someone who is electable and a real alternative to Warren and Sanders, who many in the party are terrified of. She would position herself as the sensible, moderate choice who can beat Trump and restore America to respectability.

There’s also another school of thought that says Clinton entering the race is preposterous. Ridiculous. She’s old news. But, don’t be so sure. Because the rules have changed, in large part, thanks to Trump himself. He turned everything upside down in 2016 and now, anything can happen.

Clinton still has a huge following among baby boomers, women, LGBT, African Americans, Jews, Latinos, and many independent voters. And here’s the best part. Just like Hillary herself, they’re all still fuming about losing the 2016 election. If she runs, they will turn out in force.

Nothing like four years of angst to bring out the voters.

Head to head, Clinton would likely beat Trump in the General Election. Currently, 54% of the public disapproves of his job performance and it is slipping even further among Republicans as the impeachment proceedings take a daily toll on his electability. With 29% of the country registered as Democrats, 26% as Republicans and 43% as Independents, Trump will need to capture a big chunk of the independent vote to win, which would be difficult. Maybe even impossible.

Given the bitter, wall-to-wall media coverage, and the soon to air live impeachment hearings on television, public sentiment will continue to turn definitively against him. And many of the Independents that he desperately needs to win the election, would almost certainly back the safer, more moderate choice.

Even if it is Hillary Clinton.

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