A Legitimately Elected President

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michele Obama, and Jill Biden among dignitaries on inauguration dias.
The conclusion of the Mueller investigation presents leading Democrats with a fateful choice: whether to continue digging into the past in hopes of hobbling or delegitimizing Trump’s presidency, or to concentrate on the present and the future, when all their ingenuity will be needed to beat Trump and deny him a second term.

Though the latter would be better for the party and nation, turning away from the special investigation requires fortitude.  The Mueller report hasn’t been made public, and the pundits and pols who are against Trump aren’t satisfied with Attorney General William Barr’s disclosures and conclusions.  The Democrats want more information.  This desire, as reasonable as it is, distinguishes them from the mass of American citizens who are really tired of this subtle affair and who are dying for evidence that the government is still capable of . . . . GOVERNING.

If the Democrats want someone new in the White House in 2020, they need to persuade voters that their nominee and their vision will be better for the nation than what Trump offers.  Yet they are so far from presenting this impression that one can scarcely imagine their unifying around a tenable candidate and winning.

Democrats are procrastinating.  They are shirking the hard work that follows from acknowledging that Trump won office legitimately.  He enjoys an authority that is foolish to argue with: In 2016, he understood the rules of the electoral game and exploited them more effectively than did Hillary Clinton.  He won the electoral votes he needed by persuading enough citizens to go to the polls and vote for him in key states.  Two years later, most of the president’s opponents have yet to reckon with this reality, even though any political strategy leading to Trump’s defeat must be designed with this geography in mind.  To defeat Trump, Democrats must peel away moderate and independent voters in states fed up with stale Democratic memes.  The Dems face an uphill battle, even with teamwork, ideological innovation, and the right nominee.

And where is Democratic rage when it comes to the real bogeyman, Russia–the real villain who prejudiced American voters against Hillary by waging a campaign of misinformation, who smeared her and deployed assets to promote Trump, a candidate who, for various reasons, Russia wanted instead?  What is Congress doing to ensure that foreign nations don’t infiltrate and corrupt American political discourse in the future?

While real danger looms over American democracy, one wonders whether the Democrats will ever look up from their game of Clue and do something.

Image: Screen shot of leading Democrats attending Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
© 2019 American Inguiry

4 responses

  1. Are the fractious Democratic “leaders” even capable of coming down from their left-wing lunacy to be able to govern, even if they can manage to win the presidency in 2020? They will not be able to accomplish much unless they gain a majority in the Senate. To have a competent administration they must bring in, as you say, the moderates and independents, in politics and the general population.

    We do not need to trade one form of radicalization for another. And can they campaign without having the focus be on the Trump ‘period’? That will just fracture the country further!

    Frankly, it doesn’t look too promising. All of the present Dem senators should remain there; they can do more good and will need the present numbers and add to them. Amy Klobuchar is a prime example with her focus on anti-trust; that’s been one of my hot buttons for a long time. And she would seem to be a terrible president that would do nothing to unite the nation.

    • Good point about the Senate, Allen. The Dems have broken down when it comes to party discipline–but, to be fair, the Republicans have suffered from the same problem. Neither party is controlling who runs for the presidency, so anyone can claim to represent the party–last time around, both Sanders and Trump exploited this vulnerability. The parties have really failed the people. It is a complex problem. Originally, party elites (in the body of “delegates”) chose nominees. They were mid-level operatives who had an extraordinary first-hand knowledge of the character of voters in their states. They simply would not consider anyone who in their opinion wasn’t ready–or who was needed to serve the party elsewhere. They also ensured that candidates embodied the party’s beliefs. Our primary system has swept away all that, so that now candidates scarcely “need” a party’s collective approval to get to the top of the heap (though we did see the Democratic Party’s super-delegates thwart Bernie last time around). It’s a problem of “too much democracy,” in a republic that was designed to check dangerous excesses of the popular will.

  2. Should the Dems keep investigating Trump and try to score some political points vis-a-vis the Mueller report, or not? The entire report should be made public, save what went on concerning the grand jury. Grand jury proceedings have, from time immemorial, been legally ordered to remain secret forever. If, perhaps, some type of “smoking gun” info does come out of the report, then “let the commotion begin.” Otherwise, the Dems should let it rest and move on to the job of unseating Trump in 2020. He and the companies he controls are right now being investigated by the state of New York (southern district) for breaking many, many laws. I say, just let those investigations continue as they will, while Dems on the Hill strategize for 2020.

    • Good point, Harley–With Trump and his businesses under investigation elsewhere, why should the House devote its time to this? Of course, the standard of impeachment is different and more discretionary than in criminal or civil law, but as I wrote in an earlier post, the Senate is unlikely to participate in an effort to remove Trump from office. So it really is a waste of time. I believe the House Democrats keep investigating because they get a feeling of power and influence from it.
      Thank you,