The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel says it’s the Trump haters, not President Donald Trump, who are responsible for tearing down America’s democratic institutions.
Strassel’s new book is “Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America,” and it explores the ways that she believes those who are determined to undo the 2016 election are actually doing serious damage to the established norms and revered institutions that keep the government functioning as it was designed to do.
Beginning with the 2016 election, Strassel argued that Democrats were so utterly invested in winning that they had never considered the possibility that they might lose — and certainly not to a wild card like President Donald Trump. (RELATED: ‘I Was Laughing So Hard I Nearly Cried’: WSJ’s Kimberley Strassel Can’t Get Over Green New Deal)
They were counting on having another eight years to solidify the legacy of former President Barack Obama, another eight years of implementing liberal policies and, for the first time in decades, a chance to gain a decisive advantage on the Supreme Court.
“Trump’s victory,” Strassel wrote in the very first chapter, “demolished this dream.”
Trump, Democrats realized in horror, really didn’t give a toss what anyone thought about him. Moreover, he seemed to care deeply about fulfilling his campaign promises. The Paris Climate Accord? Gone. All those climate change rules? Gone. Obamacare? Trump would repeal it, if at all possible. The judiciary? Candidates Trump’s 2016 list of potential Supreme Court nominees included an all-star roster of textualist jurists and thinkers. And as the NYT’s Egan morosely pointed out, Trump had also carried to victory a Republican House and Senate. He had the allies to pass his agenda. Democrats hadn’t just lost their fairy-tale castle in the sky; they’d landed a dragon.
The protests began immediately.
Indeed, the first calls for impeachment came before President-elect Trump even became President Trump — and just 19 minutes after the inauguration, the Washington Post ran a story about the impeachment plans that were already in motion.
The Do Nothing Democrats are too focused on wanting to impeach @realDonaldTrump since January 20, 2017 as the Washington Post pointed out on his Inauguration Day….
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) October 5, 2019
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley noted last week that Democrats had been pushing for impeachment since the inauguration, tweeting, “Not surprised House Dems r trying to impeach Thats been their goal since inauguration day But w no formal process +no real investigating+ no inclusion of GOP/white house +no regard for history/precedent its hard to take them seriously.”
Not surprised House Dems r trying to impeach Thats been their goal since inauguration day But w no formal process +no real investigating+ no inclusion of GOP/white house +no regard for history/precedent its hard to take them seriously
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 11, 2019
Grassley hit on another point that Strassel made in the book: that President Trump’s “haters” were so set in their mission of removing him from office that standard practices and long-held precedents were going by the wayside.
“Casting Trump as a dictator or racist or homophobe gives Resistance leaders cover to engage in behavior that never would have been tolerated in political times past,” Strassel noted, referencing the manner in which Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was treated during his Senate confirmation hearings.
The excuse, Strassel explained, is that Trump is so bad that such behavior is justifiable.
America has had a lot of presidential elections, and each one has produced a losing side. Traditionally, the vanquished spend the ensuing years regrouping, opposing, and coming up with a better message. The Resistance from the start was instead about delegitimizing Trump, mobilizing the machinery of the government against him, and using any means available to void the results of 2016. That zero-sum mentality all but guaranteed that the Resistance would immediately start taking out some of America’s norms and institutions.
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, a renewed push for impeachment may serve as a test to see just how far outside the lines the American people will allow Democrats to step. Strassel pointed out, as a number of Republicans have, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to hold a formal vote and open an official impeachment inquiry represents yet another move away from precedent. (RELATED: Ted Cruz: ‘Broken’ Democrats ‘Are Defined Now Just By Hating’ Trump)
“In the wake of the Mueller report,” Strassel explained, “Pelosi realized she had a problem. Half of her troops were still demanding impeachment; the other half feared it. Pelosi, at least initially, chose a middle option, which required an even worse abuse of House powers.”
Citing a 2018 warning from former Obama adviser David Axelrod — “If we ‘normalize’ impeachment as a political tool it will be another hammer blow to our democracy” — Strassel concludes that’s exactly what Democrats are doing.
While they talk about impeachment incessantly and directly claim the president is guilty of impeachable offenses, the refuse to actually move to impeach. This has, as Axelrod worried, already served to “normalize” impeachment talk, diminish its worth, and undercut democracy.
The results of undercutting democracy in this fashion, Strassel argued, could lead to the undercutting of other institutions and norms. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, has already called for the abolition of the Electoral College. Several 2020 Democratic primary candidates have advocated for major changes to the make-up of the Supreme Court. Others have argued in favor of lowering the voting age.
During an interview that aired Saturday on FM News Talk 97.1 (KFTK) in St. Louis, Strassel detailed some of the key points from her book for host Tony Colombo on “The Weekend Report.”
If the patterns outlined in her book are any indication of what is to come, the 2020 presidential race is likely to be the backdrop of further attempts to erode the democratic process.