On the fallacy of the "New Normal"

On the fallacy of the "New Normal"

Yesterday, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 45% of Americans supported the impeachment of Donald Trump, up 5% from the previous poll.

The poll is interesting, in that a clear majority also worried that House Democrats’ investigations of Trump might hamper needed legislating.

“It’s becoming a circus over there” in Washington, said Fatima Alsrogy, 36, a T-shirt designer from Dallas who took the poll. “There are so many more important things the country needs to pay attention to right now.”

Alsrogy, an independent, thinks Trump should be impeached. Yet she also wishes lawmakers would do more to improve the healthcare system for self-employed people like her.

This dichotomy is what’s facing Democratic leaders as they thread the needle, pursuing investigations of Trump leading to impeachment, while also doing the work they were sent to Washington to do, which is to make citizens’ lives better.

What Trump is trying to do is institute a “new normal”, where all the old norms are jettisoned in a new authoritarian state. Many on our side of the aisle agree that what used to be normal is now gone forever, and we have to acclimate ourselves to new realities and act accordingly.

As this poll shows, that’s a fallacy among a majority of Americans. They have no desire for this new normal. Yes, they want Trump impeached. But they also want their material concerns attended to. They want health care. They want jobs. They want fairness. For all of Trump’s cabal’s attempt to create a new reality, the old, cherished reality has a hold they can’t break. Voters want Trump to face justice. They also want to know that they won’t go bankrupt because of medical bills.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats are playing this just right. In 1974, support for Richard Nixon’s impeachment stood at 41%. Months later, he resigned. This is the kind of groundswell which will drive Trump from power. And if it does, don’t think that the Republicans will be rid of a headache. If anything, it will cement Democratic chances for a victory in 2020. If Trump is ousted in late 2019 / early 2020, the GOP won’t have time to coalesce around a viable candidate. And, of course, months of televised hearings will make voters solidify their low opinion of a party which supported a corrupt, criminal “president” for so long. Instant gratification is, well, gratifying; but it’s not a long-term strategy.

Democrats have to do two things at once: pursue justice against Trump, and also address pocketbook issues for voters. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Too many who have such wonderful advice for Nancy Pelosi fail to realize that Democrats really didn’t campaign on impeachment; they campaigned on making people’s lives better. The voters in swing districts wanted a check on Trump; but the also wanted their concerns addressed.

Democrats also have to show that progress is being stymied solely by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans. This will lay the groundwork for flipping that chamber. “We’ve passed all these bills, but McConnell won’t even hold a vote on them.” That is the message that Democrats have to keep hammering home.

Something happened on the way to the new normal: Americans realized that they liked the old normal just fine, and have no desire to live under Emperor Moron. That will be our saving grace.



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