Politics is treated like a game. I think that’s true almost everywhere. The people who are closest to the sausage getting made are the ones who know this best. They’re the ones who play the game the best. It makes them the least equipped to know when the other side has changed the rules and it’s time for the games to stop. To do so is to admit that they might be obsolete.
Yesterday, Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi took the impeachment of Donald Trump off the table, claiming it would be too “divisive” and required bipartisanship. It’s true that in order to impeach Trump and remove him from office, some Republicans will have to play ball. As of now, every indication is that not enough of them will. They’re willing to stand by their man to the bitterest of ends. It would take quite a lot of heavy lifting to impeach the President, and it should — it’s a serious matter, one that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. In her discussion of potential impeachment proceedings, Pelosi dismissed Trump as “just not worth it.” I think that’s meant to be some sort of burn. This is what I mean about this all being a game to some people. The evidence that the Trumps are a crime family that is part of an international syndicate is being stacked to the rafters. So many lies have already been publicly documented. The United States is an international laughingstock. And I haven’t even gotten to the fascism yet. To the “fine people.” To the camps in the desert. “He’s just not worth it.” If he isn’t, then who is?
The public spectacle of impeachment proceedings aren’t just about theater. They are about accountability — about that accountability being demanded and extracted in full public view. They are about a record being created. Impeachment being difficult, attritional, and maybe even pyrrhic isn’t a good enough reason to take it off the table pre-emptively, much less to announce to the world that you’re doing so. Pelosi is playing chess, though, and she’s a grand master. That’s the argument. Counterpoint: The board was flipped over and set on fire some time ago.
The Democrats are always trying to play some high-minded, three-dimensional chess that lets them appear to be above the fray. Civility. They genuinely believe it’s more important than doing what’s right. It’s why we all had to try not to vomit in our mouths as we watched Rep. Elijah Cummings — a Black elder statesman — comfort Rep. Mark Meadows, after Rep. Rashida Tlaib called him out for disgracefully parading out a Black woman as proof that Trump couldn’t possibly be a racist, because he’d hired her. Meadows was comforted for orchestrating that racist stunt. Tlaib was castigated for accurately describing it as such. It’s a pattern you can set your watch to. Keeping the clubhouse “collegial” is of paramount importance to the Democrats. Any other consideration is a distant second. They’ll throw one of their own under the bus in a heartbeat in service to this negative peace.
I’ve written before that that brand of civility the Democrats practice is a form of violence, one they’re insulated from. That violence is in service to and the result of electoral politics whose entire strategy boils down to “We’re not as bad as the other guys.” Just doing what’s right, what the moment calls for, never enters the equation. There’s always some prevaricating calculation, some pre-emptive capitulation that takes precedence. Not impeaching Trump is all about the 2020 election, defeating him at the ballot box, and taking back the Senate. What if, as Michael Cohen predicted, a peaceful transfer of power doesn’t occur? What is Pelosi prepared to do then? Say things do run smoothly, what happens after that? This isn’t just about Trump. As his buffoonery dominates the news, an entire network of bad actors has been appointed at all levels of the federal government. How many of them are “worth” the effort to clear out? It’s not possible to clean up this mess without making the fascists angry. And the mess has to be dealt with. Look at how difficult Trump has been to dislodge. What will happen when this ideology is given a nicer face — a young, attractive one? What will happen when the person speaking this poison into society is a skilled orator? What will happen when half the people watching aren’t viscerally repulsed? I say “when” not “if” for a reason. It will happen, and unless at least some of these roots are torn up, there will be a whole infrastructure waiting to shepherd the consequences across the finish line.