Anyone who has ever been jilted can relate to the words of wisdom employed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“He’s just not worth it,” Pelosi said of the visceral, deep-seated desire of so many to see President Donald Trump humiliated by impeachment. Pelosi made her comment to the Washington Post in an interview published on Monday, March 11.
“Just not worth it” is a call for restraint. Whether her more vocal fellow Congressional Democrats will heed the advice remains to be seen.
By week’s end, they’d been tempted, baited even more with news that cast the president in shade, wounded, a man on the ropes.
There was the Senate’s rebuke of Trump’s emergency declaration for the southern border, in which 12 Republicans joined.
A second federal judge added to the sentence of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and minutes later Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. indicted him with 16 counts of mortgage fraud and conspiracy — effectively, if the charges stick in trial, making Manafort pardon-proof.
And former Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker changed his story in a closed-door meeting with the House Judiciary Committee when questioned about Trump’s involvement in ongoing investigations into his campaign and activities with his former attorney Michael Cohen. (That’s according to committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat; Republicans dispute the claim.) This stoked the belief that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller will produce proof that the president obstructed justice.
It was a bad week for Trump, no doubt, but the message Democrats need to heed is: Restraint. Restraint. Restraint. Don’t make hasty moves that will be regretted later.
Most of us have heard similar advice from a friend when we’ve been poised to act in ways that might double the hurt later. A failed effort to drive Trump from office by impeachment, rather than at the ballot box, certainly qualifies.
Many took Pelosi’s statement as pragmatic wisdom. And it is. But what she didn’t articulate is the greater challenge.
Trump is merely a manifestation of deep fragmentations within the U.S. that existed long before he glided down the staircase at Trump tower and entered the presidential race. He didn’t manufacture our divisions; he mined them for votes, surprising even himself.
Pelosi knows the damage that passions, unaccompanied by thoughtful planning, will wreck on the substantial gains that Democrats have made so far, not the least of which was reclaiming control of the House.
Their power there has the potential to affect the lives of Americans, including Trump voters. They need to wield it wisely, attracting voters disaffected with Republicans where they can instead of generating animosity.
Pelosi also, whether she admits it or not, knows that when it comes to riling emotions, Trump will come out on top every time. It’s what he’s most suited for: agitating his base and antagonizing those who oppose him, creating a space through which he will glide.
Two days after Pelosi’s comments were published, Trump did just that.
He tweeted to the effect that he hasn’t officially been caught _ so far _ doing anything meriting impeachment. He added a note about low unemployment and the general health of the economy.
That may be true up to a point, except that many Trump voters aren’t necessarily the ones who are reaping the rewards. The vast majority of Americans are far more concerned about stagnating wages and the rising costs of healthcare, rents and mortgages, and college or career training than they are about the tick-tock of Mueller’s investigation.
Removing Trump from office alone won’t address these struggles.
The Democrats’ goal should not be defeating one man, no matter how repulsive or dangerous. It should be to resolve the economic concerns, the racial divide and outright fears of so many Americans.
That’s the national angst that spawned the Trump presidency in the first place. Finding a way to soothe and dissipate it is their likeliest path to victory in 2020.
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