The Will of the People

The Will of the People November 4, 2019

“Democrats are trying to undo the Election regardless of FACTS!” Donald Trump tweeted in early October. He and his supporters have been repeating the same thing since: that Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is an unconstitutional attempt to undo the 2016 election and reverse the will of the people.

I could go on and on about how that’s not how this works—because it’s not—but pointing that out feels less relevant after seeing a tweet Donald Trump retweeted this morning. See, this isn’t actually about protecting the will of the people. The tweet, by Fox’s Mark Levin, the host of Life, Liberty, and Levin, read as follows: “Elizabeth Warren would destroy jobs and the middle class. If elected she must be impeached.”

And Donald Trump retweeted it.

So, Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is an unconstitutional attempt to undo the 2016 election and reverse the will of the people … but if Democrat Elizabeth Warren gets elected in 2020, she must be impeached?

What happened to protecting the will of the people?

Trump’s retweet makes it clear that he either does not actually believe that impeachment overturns the will of the people—or does not actually care about overturning the will of the people. Or both. Trump’s claims to the contrary are craven attempts to maintain his position.

Trump claims—falsely—that the Democrats are using impeachment to overturn an election. In the next breath, Trump calls for using impeachment to overturn the election if his opponent wins in 2020.

I expect to disagree with Republicans on substance. My political positions align with the Democrats, not due to some sort of tribalism but rather because I am pro-choice and believe in the importance of maintaining a strong social safety net, among other things. So, as I said, I expect to disagree with Republicans on substance.

But this? This is something else entirely. This whole bit where up is down and down is up, there is no such thing as reality, all that matters is waging a propaganda war to construct your own reality—this shit is scary.



What happened to character, or integrity, or everything else the Republicans used to say they believed in? How did we get to a point where an entire political party has bowed to a demagogue who cares nothing about right or wrong, or the rule of law, or even consistency—where the only thing that matters is paying obeisance to a demagogue who cares about nothing but himself and his own image? How did we get here?

I’m also tired of the Right’s attempt at whataboutism. For one thing, it’s irrelevant. I grew up in the Republican Party. I learned as a girl was that we did what’s right even if we were the only side doing it. Even if it hurt. Character mattered. I can look back now and see I wasn’t given the whole truth, but that doesn’t change the fact that this was the internal messaging of a large segment of the GOP at the time.

For another thing, I don’t believe the claims that Democrats would act just like Republicans are today. During Watergate, many Republicans broke with Nixon. Clearly, this idea that it’s an unalterable fact that all members of a president’s political party must needs always defend him no matter what he does is false. 

We also have other counterexamples. When Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, was arrested by the FBI and charged with corruption, the Illinois House approved articles of impeachment against him with only one nay vote, and the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to impeach him and remove him from office. This despite the fact that Democrats had solid majorities in both bodies.

I don’t know where we go from here. I’m not sure whether a party acting with this much bad faith is new, or something endemic to American politics. I was a child during the Clinton impeachment. I don’t remember more than snippets, but I know politics wasn’t all hunky dory in the 1990s either.

Still, this feels different.

I wish I knew where to go from here. How do you fix something that has become this broken? How do you put the populist demagogue genie back in the bottle? How do you negotiate with a political party that does not think the rules that govern our political system apply to them? How do you counter Fox News, which delights in misinforming people and effectively functions as a Republican propaganda arm?

We like to tell our children that the good guys always win, but that simply isn’t true.

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