Dem donor Steyer wrong to push impeachment platform in 2018

Dem donor Steyer wrong to push impeachment platform in 2018
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California Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer should be applauded for his powerful efforts to support progressive causes and candidates and to strongly resist the egregious wrongs being done by President Trump.

However, this week, Steyer went much too far by writing a letter demanding that Democrats running in the 2018 midterm elections make the impeachment of President Trump a central issue in their campaigns.

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Yes, as Steyer correctly charges, Trump creates a clear and present danger to the core values and institutions of the republic. But no, making impeachment a defining issue in the 2018 campaign is not a smart move and in fact would undercut the noble causes that Steyer and all progressives are trying to advance.

 

At this moment, Trump is fomenting a civil war within the Republican Party and conservative movement. Trump, Stephen Bannon and a growing number of the most conservative groups in America are waging a political war against Republican leaders in Congress and a significant number of Republican incumbents running for re-election in the House and Senate.

At this moment, as well, the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team into Russian aggression against American democracy and potential collusion with individuals on the Trump team is widening and deepening. 

It is very possible that, stemming from this investigation, voters will witness the first indictments or plea bargains in the coming weeks and months in return for more evidence being provided.

Rather than calling for the president’s impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment as a campaign platform in 2018, Democrats should wait for the investigation to produce actions based on evidence involving those currently under investigation.

America is today being governed as a one-party state, with Republicans in control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. The prime directive for Democrats and progressives should be to win control in the midterm elections of the House, the Senate or both. This would create the ultimate and currently nonexistent check against the extreme dangers created by the Trump presidency.

At this moment, Democrats have a significant chance of regaining control of the House and an increasingly realistic chance of regaining control of the Senate, which was unthinkable months ago.

To achieve control of Congress, Democrats will have to win key races in red and purple states, as well as blue states. Democrats will have to win House and Senate campaigns in states and districts in which voters today oppose impeachment by substantial margins.  

It is dead wrong to demand these candidates campaign on a platform of impeaching the president, because it would be highly unpopular with voters who will decide their fates.   

What is urgently needed, instead, is a major infusion of financial support and grassroots mobilization to support Democrats running in red states and districts, as well as Democrats running in blue states and districts.

There is a major special election for a Senate seat coming on Dec. 12 in Alabama. It is a choice between Roy Moore, a far-right extremist who embodies everything that Steyer and other Democrats loathe, and Doug Jones, a highly respected Democrat who embodies the highest traditions, values and visions that Democrats stand for in the South and all regions of the nation.

Jones has a chance of defeating Moore, and if he does, it will be a political "shot heard around the world," a kind of Lexington and Concord moment for American politics that will reverberate across the nation.

What Steyer should be doing — along with the sleepwalking Democratic National Committee — is going all-out to support Jones in his underdog but viable campaign to be elected as the next Democratic Senator from Alabama.

Supporting candidates such as Jones is the way for Democrats to address the challenges facing the party and the nation, not creating litmus tests about impeachment that hurt the great cause that Steyer, progressives and all Democrats champion for the 2018 midterms.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.