Corporate media is a helluva drug. Its single-handedly kept Democrats chasing one Trump scandal after another for the past three years, without ever telling them how little actual “resistance” to Trump’s legislative agenda there’s been from the same Congress that’s impeaching him now. Even as Pelosi and Schiff were straight out claiming that Trump was a Russian agent, they were simultaneously voting to expand his spying powers. Then they went on to vote for his military budgets time and time again. They gave him an extra $22 billion just this past week, even as they were preparing articles of impeachment. That’s on top of the $108 billion in increases they’ve already given him over the past three years. Democrats in Congress also joined with Republicans this past June to approve a $4.6 billion no-strings attached border bill, that included continued funding of ICE, even as children were being put into cages (more on that later). These are very peculiar votes to take if you believe the president is a Russian agent, and/or that he’s dangerously unfit for office. But you’ll rarely hear about that on CNN, or read about it in the pages of The New York Times. Just like if you’re a FOX viewer, you won’t hear much about Trump admitting to charity fraud. In the end, these are business decisions. If you tell people what they don’t want to hear, pretty soon they’ll stop watching. This kind of “siloed” reporting, as Matt Taibbi calls it, produces news consumers who are so ignorant and propagandized that not only don’t they know what’s actually going on in the country; they actively resist knowing. Information that doesn’t fit the script goes right down the memory hole or gets branded as somehow “Russian.”
Meanwhile, Trump is enjoying his highest approval ratings since March 2017, and because of the carefully curated information they have to work with, most Democrats have no idea why. If pressed, they’ll usually offer some variation on the “deplorables” argument: most of the voters are stupid and uninformed. Not knowing the rare pleasure of Jake Tapper getting into high dudgeon while interviewing a Trump administration official, they just don’t know what’s really happening. One of the most Orwellian manifestations of this mindset was the rash of articles and social media chatter after the 2016 election, claiming that the people who voted for Trump need to be “educated.” As if you could just send them all to Camp Neoliberal where they would slowly learn that the decimation of their communities over the past forty years is a good thing, because after all, the stock market is doing great and Ellen is on TV. As to why this nation of deeply racist and uneducated voters elected a black man with the middle name “Hussein” twice, they have no real explanation to offer. If pressed, they’ll often posit that 2016 represented a backlash against that same President, never considering how little sense that makes, given his re-election. If it were a backlash, wouldn’t that backlash have come in 2012, when all those racist deplorables had the chance to vote against him directly? But these are logical arguments, and rarely effective in the face of what is essentially a religious dogma, with its core mythology of light vs. dark and good vs. evil completely impervious to rational considerations. You might as well debate the trinity with a devout Christian. The Maddow doth offer the daily absolution, and yay it shall be received.
The smug arrogance of assuming that voters rank impeachment near the bottom of their list of concerns, with only foreign policy ranking lower, because they’re too dumb or intrinsically foul to “get it,” is pretty typical of the charm offensive that Democrats have been waging against the general public for quite some time, with predictable electoral results. The problem the party is running into selling impeachment is the same problem they run into in most elections; they’ve spent several decades alienating their most natural allies, from union workers, to the working poor, to the middle-class and POC, with policies that completely fucked over those same communities, and as a result, no one likes or trusts them very much. When you’re starting with that kind of trust deficit, rallying the troops is a tall order. Rallying them for an impeachment based on arcane process questions, which themselves can’t be explored without exposing the kind of nepotism in regards to Hunter Biden, that Washington insiders may consider a simple perk of the job, but the average person understands as the legalized corruption that it very obviously is, is nigh unto impossible. Imagine you’re a voter whose once stable middle-class job evaporated with NAFTA, and now you’re working three degrading low-wage jobs just to keep your head above water. Now imagine a Congress made up almost exclusively of millionaires tells you that the thing you really need to be concerned about is the fact that the (maybe) billionaire who won the last election threatened to withhold military aid to a country you couldn’t find on a map, if that country didn’t look into why the son of another millionaire who now wants to be President, got a $50K a month gig with a foreign energy company, without having any relevant qualifications. If the politician who told you that was standing on your lawn, you’d probably beat the living shit out of them on the way to your minimum wage delivery gig at Pizza Hut. I know I would. And so would you. So would anybody. The problem is people with that story have left the party, and the people who remain don’t even know anyone with that story.
The answer you’ll get when you raise these kinds of concerns is always, “But what about the GOP?!” What about them? If you’re the kind of person who cares deeply about whether or not a religious baker has the right to refuse service to a gay couple, the GOP is giving you something. Its not much, but its something. The Democrats are offering them nothing but Russian conspiracy theories and complaints about Trump’s demeanor; a demeanor which, if you’ve grown to hate the Washington establishment, isn’t a bug but a feature. The punditocracy losing its shit with every rancid tweet and every fresh assault on taste and decency, keeps his voters warm at night. Which is important when the heating bill is three months past due.
This is not to say Trump shouldn’t be impeached, or that he hasn’t committed a wide variety of impeachable offenses. As our erstwhile publisher Keaton has suggested, children in cages would have been pretty good grounds. Smart too. Try defending children in cages. Good luck with that. But it’s hard to impeach a president over something that you’ve provided the funding for with full knowledge of exactly where the money was going. So, like the Bad News Bears of politics that they are, and with the total lack of moral clarity that is their calling card, the Democrats have honed in on the one thing you could impeach Trump over, that can’t be discussed without dragging the cokehead son of their former VP into the spotlight. The sheer political stupidity of that choice becomes increasingly evident as the impeachment process drags on, and with it, Donald Trump’s poll numbers go up. Pelosi, in a rare demonstration of political insight, never wanted to do impeachment, and now she’s wisely trying to get out of a Senate trial by demanding things from Mitch McConnell that she knows he’ll never agree to. That’s about the best anyone can do at this point; dump this turkey and move on to talking about things that are relevant to people in a country where 63% say they couldn’t afford a $1000 emergency. That’s the country Anderson Cooper couldn’t find on a map, although I’m sure he could find the Ukraine pretty easily. The millionaires running the Democratic Party don’t know much about that country either. And it shows.