The campaign to make Donald Trump president of these United States was a terrible idea. The campaign to drive him from office is a worse one.
House Democrats Brad Sherman of California and Al Green of Texas filed articles of impeachment against Trump in July. Representative Green had been talking about impeachment practically since Trump was sworn in (which was only a few months ago, impossible as that seems). Similar symbolic articles were filed against Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — and against Bill Clinton, too, separate from the House’s later impeachment of him. The Sherman-Green impeachment effort is symbolic only because Democrats’ woeful congressional position ensures that the project is stillborn. If Democrats had the numbers, they would impeach Trump — and if they get the numbers, they will.
But that isn’t Plan A. Plan A is anarchy.
As Trump prepared to take the oath of office, a group of sundry leftists of the anarchist variety declared their intention to “Become Ungovernable,” and they have made some progress on that front, from the violent protests surrounding the inauguration itself to the riots at Berkeley and on other college campuses. The Democratic establishment and its media allies — the Respectable Left — play a good-cop/bad-cop game with the blackshirts and rioters. The black bloc exercises a heckler’s veto, and the campus administrators and municipal authorities pretend to be saddened that they are obliged to bar conservative speakers from their campuses or restrict public discourse. The nice progressives in cardigans assure us that they deplore the violence of Antifa and similar goon squads, but they know who their friends are — and, more important, who they aren’t. Charles Murray can’t speak on a college campus without being physically assaulted, but the real danger, these progressives tell us, is that the NRA made a recruiting video.
Feed the churn, feel the burn.
If there’s a crisis, they’ll amplify it, even if they have to lie — e.g., CNN’s complete fabrication about a Google engineer “who argued women aren’t biologically fit for tech jobs.” If there isn’t a crisis or a scandal, they’ll manufacture one: Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job in Donald Trump’s America! Angels and ministers of grace defend us. Progressive talk radio is a sty of conspiracy theories, hysteria, and bigotry that makes right-wing talk radio sound like Tractatus Logico–Philosophicus — which is not easy to do, because right-wing talk radio is bonkers. Cable-news commentary from the left is nearly as bad.
Institutional Democrats use the state and local governments they control as political weapons, and they have made great strides in politicizing business life. When the nation’s dairy producers declined to make a statement on the events in Charlottesville, Jesse Singal of New York magazine wrote: “You are either with us or against us, milk!” He was joking, but the joke is funny because it is so close to the facts. Progressives have boycotted L.L. Bean because one of its board members made a donation to a political-action committee that supported Trump. That wasn’t the company using the company’s money to support a candidate, just a board member who has a life outside of being on the board of L.L. Bean.
And, of course, local “community organizers” take a sudden interest in monuments that have been sitting in local parks for a century.
Trump was, and is, unfit for the office he holds. He is also the duly elected president of the United States of America.
Trump, being Trump, adds his own chaos to the mix: his petulant schoolboy tweeting, his Queeg-and-the-strawberries press conferences, his penchant for surrounding himself with nutcases like Steve Bannon and his gormless children and in-laws. If what you want is chaos, then Donald J. Trump — a retired game-show host who apparently believes there were “a lot of good people” at a neo-Nazi rally that ended with a political murder — is your man. You could hardly do better.
The Left has a short game and a long one here. The short game is paralyzing Trump if not driving him from office. The long game is using Trump to discredit the Republican party and the conservative movement, both of which have, to their discredit, embraced and defended Trump with various degrees of enthusiasm. Some of the smarter right-wing talking mouths on cable news have already developed aggressive amnesia regarding their own complicity in Trump’s rise, and it is likely that many will follow. The line of argument will be: “Hey, I was a big Ted Cruz supporter, really, but, after the primary, it was Trump or Hillary.” Some people will need reminding of what they said and did.
Trump was, and is, unfit for the office he holds. He is also the duly elected president of the United States of America. Nothing since January has changed that.
The Democrats think they are beating the Republicans at their own game. Republicans countenanced cranks who insisted that Barack Obama was a Kenyan and a Muslim, and Democrats raised the stakes with claims that Donald Trump is a Russian plant and a Nazi. A few years ago, John Kerry mournfully scolded Republicans who had, so he claimed, questioned his patriotism. We were all supposed to recoil from the idea of questioning anybody’s patriotism. That was quaint. Now, Democrats insist that their political opponents are traitors, that ordinary politics is treason, and that their rivals ought not only be defeated at the ballot box but jailed. If Robert Mueller has discovered something to justify that kind of talk, he is being awfully quiet about it. The problem for Democrats is that the past 20 years have shown beyond any doubt that the Republicans are the better opposition party. The problem for Republicans is that an effective opposition party eventually ceases to be the opposition and has to govern, a task for which Republicans appear to be unprepared.
We cannot allow the current state of affairs, in which the loss of a presidential election is met with ever wilder and more vicious attempts to immobilize the executive, to become the new normal. We cannot treat every lost election as an illegitimate one — which is precisely the direction in which the Democrats have us pointed at the moment. Our federal government already is dysfunctional, and that kind of banana-republic total-war opposition, carried on without rest or relief, will lead to a country that is truly ungovernable and not simply acting ungovernable for short-term political reasons. Driving Trump from office would hurt Republicans in the short term. It would hurt Democrats a great deal very soon after. And, much more important, it would do great violence to our constitutional order and our long and proud history of regular government. The Yorks wouldn’t have peace with a Lancaster on the throne, and vice versa, but the United States of America is a republic. Fortunately, the president is only the chief administrator of the federal government, not a personification of the national ideal.
There are two ways to come off a ledge, and Americans should choose carefully.
It may be that the investigations under way will turn up something of real interest, but there is nothing in the known facts about the Trump administration that justifies the current effort to drive him from office. He’s a lousy executive, high on rage and none too bright, venal, vain, and vicious, but we knew that when we elected him. America could have had Mitt Romney or Scott Walker if the voters had so desired. They went in another direction. You buy the ticket, you take the ride. In the immortal words of Ed Koch: The people have spoken, and now they must be punished.