It is an old political axiom that voters are motivated to vote “for” something rather than against a person or issue. Democrats utilized that very principle, talking up their priorities and programs for the nation, to make great strides in the 2017 elections, and in many special elections that have occurred since Trump’s election. You will note that Democratic politicians have fought hard to investigate Trump, and support the Mueller investigation. They have also been front and center calling out the stomach-emptying corruption that seems to be the Administration’s raison d’etre. But, you will note, that Democratic politicians and candidates have not been campaigning on the issue of investigation and impeachment. First, it violates rule number one, “run for something, not against,” and second, the very idea of “impeachment,” energizes the “Trump base” which is convinced that an entire deep state apparatus has been hard at work, for years, framing a great and moral man.
Trump knows he needs his base energized, or he will lose the House (for sure), possibly the Senate (much longer shot), and losing control of Congress means losing control of the investigations. Above all else, Trump must have control of Congress’s investigations. Unlike Mueller, Congress can interview people on live TV. Congress also has far greater latitude to determine what unethical or illegal actions require congressional oversight, far more so than a prosecutor, who must confine himself to proving each element of a specific crime. Knowing this, Trump has determined that the mid-terms will be about him, because it is his TV show after-all, and he is the star. Oh, and he will be the one out campaigning that the Democrats want to impeach him, and a vote for a democrat, is a vote to overturn an election. Voting for a democrat means voting to impeach Trump.
Politico spoke to a person who has been a member of Trump’s strategy-team, one that confirmed the underlying assumption:
I think where there are plenty of Americans who are sympathetic [to Mueller’s investigation], there are also plenty of Americans who will think this is just a witch hunt,” the person said, using a favorite phrase of Trump’s. “This is not a legal problem for the president. … It may be a legal problem for other members in his orbit. But it’s not a legal problem for the president. Never has been.
“It’s always been about a potential impeachment.”
Trump appears to believe victory in the November midterms depends on turning the contests into a referendum on his leadership, rather than risking a district-by-district slog over conventional messaging about the Republican tax overhaul and the upbeat economy.
That makes sense.
On the other hand, let’s pretend, that in an alternate universe, Trump faced no issues at all with respect to investigations or impeachment. In this UnTrumpverse, is there any way for you – dear reader – to conceive of Trump allowing elections to occur in which he is not the center focus, whether he faces personal consequences or not? This man prefers to be be on the front page of the New York Times for bad news than to not be in the news at all. So long as everyone is talking about him, something is “right” – in Trump’s way of thinking. Therefore, it’s best to start stretching your face muscles now, because you will be doing a great deal of cringing throughout the campaign. Hearing Trump pontificate on the injustices that the demonic democrats and their “deep state” allies will do to him, if he doesn’t have his “protection racket” in Congress in place? (As a total aside, is it not amazing to you that Trump acts as if he is the first president ever to enter the presidency with thousands of career government employees, some from the other party, some who might oppose his policies, on the job already? Like he is the first president ever to not get the opportunity to newly appoint 50,000 executive branch employees, all having first sworn fealty to him?). Sorry, I digressed.
Trump’s pleas to “save him” from those investigating Democrats will test our patience, and ability to hold food down. And those pleas will be coming daily, in every speech, no matter what race.
“You’ve got to make it an up or down vote Nov. 6. I want Trump on the ticket in every district,” Steve Bannon said in an interview. “You have to put Donald Trump on the ticket. You’re not voting for Congress. You’re voting for Donald Trump.”
As tempting as it sounds to take Bannon up on the offer, make the election about a man who has never consistently polled above 42% approval rate, it is “turnout” – not percentages – that will drive results. If Trump’s true believers truly believe that he is at risk, they are far more likely to show up at the polls at “presidential election” rates. Democrats can’t have that. Democrats want the Republican-Trump base asleep, disenchanted by the wall that isn’t built, frustrated that Muslims still seem to enjoy the same constitutional rights that everyone else does, and noticing that the stock market is starting to slide.
My advice to those who want to see Trump get what he deserves? Talk up the programs favored by your local Democratic politicians. If you’re forced into a conversation about Trump, don’t take the “impeachment bait.” Instead, discuss all the things Trump promised that he has done nothing about, especially the wall. Damn, the Trumpers wanted that wall, indeed, they were told only Trump could get it done. He would make Mexico pay for it. Even with a Republican House and Senate, he has not even been able to get even a plan finalized. Say it over and over, until your Trumper is either asleep, or is as mad at Trump as you’ve been for over two years. Then slowly walk away, whisper an offer to drive that Trump voter to the polls on the first Wednesday in November.