I have a Democratic primary ballot in front of me. I’m not a Democrat, and I’ve never voted in a Democratic primary before. But the Democrats want me to vote in their presidential primary, so I will. Utah is a Super Tuesday state this year, and that’s tomorrow.
Several weeks ago, the US House of Representatives impeached the President of the United States by a close and almost entirely partisan vote. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally held another vote, on a resolution appointing the House managers for the Senate trial and formally sending the impeachment to the Senate. Now the Senators have been sworn in and the rules established, and the trial is beginning.
Meanwhile, and closer to home, I haven’t blogged here in slightly over a year. In case my reasons interest you — they have a lot to do with the present political climate — you’re welcome to peruse another article I’m posting simultaneously, “On Blogging and Not Blogging in the Trump Years.”
I’m looking forward to blogging on other topics, but …
If the proverbial cross between an elephant and rhino is an “elephino,” then this impeachment is … what? A giant elephonkey in the room?” So let’s talk about impeachment generally, and this impeachment specifically. I’ll mention revolution and counterrevolution before we’re done.
Impeachment Is Political
The impeachment we’ve been watching is a political process. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s important to realize that it’s inherently political. Because of this, some things matter and some don’t, in a procedural sense. I’ll tell you what I mean.
I haven’t blogged here since the aftermath of the 2018 midterm election. If you’ll forgive the possible narcissism, I’ll tell you why. Then I’ll examine two of the reasons in the context of our current politics. President Trump’s name will come up, as it also does in a separate, simultaneous post about impeachment and due process.
One reason for my long silence is, I’ve been writing other things:
- several posts on local issues and elections at afelection.info, which involved many hours of work;
- occasional posts on non-political topics at bendablelight.com, where I write about books, religion, high school bands, etc., but not a lot lately about anything; and
- some fiction, including some (local) award-winning short fiction and my first novel, which is now ready for beta readers.
I’ve also been busy at work.
My supply of mental and physical energy is not increasing with age.
And sometimes life gets complicated, despite my efforts to simplify.
But it’s more than all that, which brings me to our topic.
I haven’t been ignoring national politics. I consume about as much content as before, from across the political spectrum. I’ve outlined and even drafted a few blog posts along the way. I still discuss issues with friends, family members, and acquaintances of various political stripes, in person and online. But I’ve left blog posts unfinished and unposted, and I’ve discussed issues with others a lot less than before.
I’ve said for years that President Obama — the quasi-monarchical head of a selectively but systematically lawless regime — is more of a symptom than the disease. I think the same of Donald Trump. I don’t mean Donald Trump the person; I mean Donald Trump the Republican front runner. Donald Trump of reality television (pardon the oxymoron). Donald Trump the foul-mouthed verbal bully. Donald Trump, the least convincing conservative impersonator we’ve seen at the head of the pack in a long time. (Rabid right-wingers will insert their own snide Mitt Romney joke here, I suspect. But he would have been a great president, even if he’s not conservative enough for you and you and you and you and maybe me.)
Meanwhile, with a less partisan Department of Justice the Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton, would probably be facing — and in fact may yet face — federal indictment on many counts of knowingly treating classified and secret materials with all the seriousness due to recipes published in the food section of last week’s Sunday Times. And she’s losing states to Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist whose appeal crosses demographic lines, but is particularly strong among young adults who have not yet been required by curriculum or circumstances to learn how the world works.
The symmetry here is that millions of voters are so hostile to establishment candidates on both sides of the aisle that they are voting for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It is a remarkable time in our politics, though not a particularly encouraging time.
There are some very smart people (among many others) thinking and writing about this. Here I’ll offer some highlights from the best recent explanations I’ve seen. Peggy Noonan looms large here; she’s a perennial favorite of mine. I’ll also throw in some George Will, some Charles Krauthammer, some (American-turned-Brit) Janey Daley, a bit of Mark Steyn (an Aussie), and even some David Brooks (who sometimes plays a conservative on television but must, in general, be embraced with particular caution).
In each case I am excerpting longer essays or columns which you should read in their entirety. I offer the excerpts as much to persuade you of that as to offer an explanation of the Trump/Sanders phenomenon here. (Note: The fact that I have called the phenomenon after its most prominent current symptoms does not mean they are the only symptoms, or that the disease is not rampant at other levels of government. We’ve been fighting it locally in my city, American Fork, Utah, for some time in our own quirky way.)
The Iowa presidential caucuses are tonight. (Finally? Already?) I suppose we could try to analyze the polls, the history, and the weather forecast, in order to project who will win for the Republicans and the Democrats. But I’d rather just see what happens — because for once the results will be real. It’s the first time in what already seems like a long campaign that we will get actual votes instead of polls.
Sometimes the votes follow the polls. Sometimes they don’t. People don’t always tell pollsters the truth, due to social pressures. Polling samples can be flawed. And maybe there’s one more thing.
Maybe when it’s a real vote, people are more inclined to look pass their anger and frustration and consider the merits of sending a capable leader, not just an angry message, to Washington.
Will Republican voters be more serious, all of a sudden? We’ll come back to that.