The House Democrats fulfilled a party-wide 2018 campaign promise on Monday afternoon by formally voting to send two Articles of Impeachment of President Trump to the Senate, setting forth just the third Presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history. As the dust settles from the initial monumental report, a major unanswered question has appeared for the Democrat party: What’s the plan after this?
With a Republican-dominated Senate and a need for 67 votes to remove Trump from office in the most partisan time in Congressional history, the goal of an official unseating of the President appears to be dead before it even arrives at the table. Knowing this, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to withhold the articles from the Senate until she can guarantee the Senate and its Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will conduct what she considers to be a “fair trial”.
So what exactly is the intent of the Democrats? Do they have a strategy at all? Did they not think they’d ever get this far? Surely they knew they had the votes in the House to push through impeachment, but also were aware that it’s a losing battle once the articles reach the Senate. Their best outcome at this point seems to be something along the lines of the Senate’s impeachment trial being dragged out long enough that it becomes something that the Democrat Presidential candidate can use as campaign fodder against Trump’s reelection, and possibly some campaign speeches—a chance to whine about Congress’ divisiveness as the nation heads into another contentious election cycle. That’s really the only benefit to making such a futile effort.
The most glaring, and to some, unfortunate, truth for Pelosi and the Democrats is that the battle they are fighting is rapidly losing the interest of the public. Media polls have shown a growing disinterest by the American public in the impeachment proceedings. And, at this point, the only people who have kept up with or even still care about the impeachment process are radicalized voters on either side whose minds are already made up. In a time where the pool of centrists is narrower than ever, this strategy doesn’t seem like one that appeals to those stray voters.
To her credit, Nancy Pelosi has been in the American political game long enough that most know better than to accuse her of being politically clueless, and it is well documented that the Democrat Party’s overall strategy is to outwit their opposition with shrewd tactics instead of viable or even appealing policy. This could well be their crowning achievement in that respect, though their path to success is unclear. Regardless, it seems safe to assume that the impeachment saga has only just begun and there will be plenty to watch out for as Congress does all it can to erode its nearly single digit approval rating