Impeachment has positioned President Trump as a battered but unbroken opponent of the Washington establishment.
Atlantic magazine recently had some interesting observations about the way the House Democrats’ impeachment effort is playing in the Heartland ("Nobody talks about impeachment on the campaign trail," Nov. 3).
It’s not one of the issues resonating with voters. "The impeachment fight ... is the biggest story in politics. No one is talking about anything else — except pretty much everywhere outside of Washington," the story noted.
The author, Edward-Isaac Dovere, attended an Iowa event in which 13 Democratic candidates spoke for four hours. Only one — billionaire Tom Steyer, who has been running pro-impeachment advertisements for two years, beginning long before the latest Ukraine kerfuffle — even mentioned it.
As Dovere noted, that’s not by happenstance. The candidates "have teams of advisers and internal polls and focus groups and months of personal interactions that are telling them the topic gets them nowhere, for the same reasons they didn’t talk much on the trail about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report before or after a redacted version of it was released in the spring."
Candidate Andrew Yang, a fierce critic of President Trump, warned the House Democrats’ effort will boomerang on the party.
"We have to face the facts, where not a single Republican crossed the aisle to support the impeachment vote," Yang said. "That would certainly suggest that impeachment’s going to run aground in the Senate and this is going to wind up [with] Donald Trump claiming innocence and vindication."
The story also quoted Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, who was on her way to an event and "expecting to continue her week-long streak of not hearing a single person in her state bring up impeachment."
Raimondo, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, is concerned "the conversations on cable television and Twitter are impeachment-obsessed — instead of focused on issues that Democrats usually win on," Dovere reported, such as health care and the difficulty of making ends meet.
"Doctors say, ‘Listen to the patient long enough and they’ll tell you what’s wrong with them,’" Raimondo told the reporter. "We need to listen."
Democrats — including some of Raimondo’s gubernatorial candidates — fared well this week in state elections, particularly in suburban swing districts. These elections were more about lunch-bucket issues than impeachment.
We have similarly warned of the political downside of an impeachment effort that leans on the slender reed of a temporary delay in military aid to Ukraine. After the attempt to find traitorous collusion between President Trump and Russia fizzled, many Americans tuned out the endless resistance in Washington to the results of the 2016 election.
It would be disappointing if Democrats headed into the 2020 election with their signature issue being a failed and overtly partisan impeachment attempt. Though impeachment scratches the almost unbearable itch of the party’s base and helps Democratic incumbents raise money, it has the unfortunate effect of strengthening Trump’s support with his own base, and positioning him as a battered but unbroken opponent of the Washington establishment.
A version of this editorial appeared in the Providence Journal, a GateHouse Media sister paper.