Another day, another failed impeachment trial.
If three things are for certain, they’re death, taxes, and the Democratic Party looking foolish as ever as they prioritize what is and what is not worthy of an impeachment trial. War crimes in Iraq? Nah. More war crimes in Libya? Also nada. Even more – you guessed it – war crimes in Syria? Cricket sounds.
Now the Democrats once again have egg on their faces in the wake of an acquittal from the United States Senate, ending the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, once again, without a conviction. And after all the trouble the Democrats went to in order to call forth witnesses in this trial only to backtrack on even doing so at the last second! One would think that a trial rife with remarks such as “dangerous insurrection” and other accusatory remarks that present Trump as a potent threat to the country’s stability would have led the Democrats to fight tooth-and-nail on every last measure which could be used to make their case.
Instead, Trump’s acquittal leaves open the however-slim possibility that Trump could indeed make a bid to run again for a second term as President in the 2024 election. Such a possibility, again, however-slim, leads one to scratch their head and wonder why the Democrats instead never sought to invoke the 14th Amendment, which also bars an individual from federal office for their involvement and incitement of an insurrection, and only requires a simple majority of both chambers of Congress for passage.
Perhaps the Democrats were only chasing the theatrics of the matter, married less to the conviction of whether or not Trump actually is an existential threat to the nation, and more interested in just being able to regurgitate the talking points of how the House of Representatives successfully impeached Trump twice.
That being said, if the 14th Amendment indeed is never invoked at any point during the Biden Administration, Democrats and Republicans alike may be forced in 2024 to reckon once more with Trump as a tenacious opponent. Now cable news pundits and blue-check celebrities on Twitter may be quick to jump the gun and paint this theoretical scenario as a nightmarish doom-and-gloom predicament that will complicate the 2024 race. But in fact, effectively making the case against Donald Trump and quickly thrashing him in the 2024 primaries should be easy – in theory!
And both parties needn’t bother with their hyperbolic tangents of what an existential horror Trump would represent if he got into office again. Instead, the case that needs to be made – from both parties frankly – must borrow a page right from none other than the Trump playbook of 2016! In short, Trump must be presented as synonymous with the Republican establishment, the very establishment Trump claimed he would go to war with if elected in 2016.
Back in the 2016 primaries, Trump demonstrated that in order to appeal to voters across the country who felt disgusted and let down by highly-concentrated corporatist influence in Clinton’s, Bush’s, and Obama’s administrations, he needed to do everything but flip the bird at figures – such as Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton – closely embedded in said administrations. Whether or not Trump meant them, comments of his such as “drain the swamp”, “that [booing] is all of Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking”, and “it was during the Revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite. Does that sound familiar?” were received as cathartic by many in the country who were eager to finally witness a candidate enter the political arena and thumb their nose at establishment politics.
But what happened instead was that Trump, in spite of what many may say, governed just the way somebody like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell would, albeit in a more bombastic and rowdy manner.
After his victory in 2016, Trump did not hesitate to deepen the swamp by staffing economic positions with Goldman Sachs alumni, in a similar manner to how Barack Obama’s cabinet was carved out by Citigroup. The vast infrastructure package Trump campaigned on never could get off the ground, perhaps in part because Trump offered very few specifics regarding investments for such a package. In spite of claims in 2015 that he would not “cut social security like every other Republican”, he went back on this pledge too. And Trump’s endorsement and investment of Foxconn’s manufacturing project in Wisconsin was very much ill-placed when Foxconn fell short of their goal to employ 5,200 people by the end of 2020 by literal thousands.
Trump’s tax breaks and right-wing judge appointments were much more reminiscent of the policies of George W. Bush, a politician embedded to an establishment Trump claimed to be antithetical to.
The question is now: which Trump will we see if he indeed does decide to run in 2024? The Trump of ’16 who channeled an economic-friendly and populist-right rhetoric, or the Trump of ’20 who chose not to double down on his previous playbook, but chose instead to lean heavily into the culture war by launching accusations of rampant socialism plaguing his opponent’s campaign, and declaring he would continue to fast-track the reopening of the economy, albeit without pushing heavily for further economic stimulus.
Republican Senators such as Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio have all but said explicitly in words that they have their eyes as well on a campaign for the presidency. Because both have insisted in several instances recently that their party should make more strides towards catering to the working class rather than corporate America, it stands to reason that their potential campaign messaging could resemble some of what Trump promised in 2016. But it will not be enough for Hawley or Rubio to just sound like Trump; they must also effectively make the case that Trump was not a working class champion, but instead, a corrupt corporate crony compliant to the donors and giant firms utterly loathed by rural America.
Now the Democrats could also certainly stave off any potential likelihood that may allow Trump to acquire a second term, and the way to do this, in the middle of a pandemic no less, is for Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress to work as hard as they can for a massive and extensive stimulus which, in part, could also capitalize on several campaign promises of Biden, such as those regarding $2,000 stimulus checks, and raising the minimum wage nationally to $15.
I am resigned to my fate to sound like a broken record until the end of my days, but economic stimulus would no doubt be a feather in the Democrats’ cap to routinely campaign on during the 2024 campaigns.
Instead, as of the moment, it seems the Democrats are more largely focused on painting the GOP as the party of QAnon (a conspiracy even less prevalent in Americans than the belief that the Moon landing was faked), pushing for a “strong Republican party”, and further means-testing the already watered-down $1,400 stimulus checks.
Make no mistake. In less than four years, voters won’t be concerning themselves with the grifts of Lauren Boebert or the “repugnant” comments of Marjorie Taylor Greene. They’ll be concerned with jobs, wages, housing, and healthcare. All are things that the pandemic (and its subsequent side effects) has ravaged, and all are things that the Democrats are neatly in a position to improve upon and expand upon.
As much as it may pain many to hear, much of Trump’s playbook from 2016 will bear much fruit for the candidate who chooses to not only seize upon it and stick to it, but to also use it as a manifesto to expose Trump as just another denizen of the status quo swamp. Democrats and Republicans alike can either make the effort to deliver for the American people and leave Trump in the dust, OR both parties could just stick their heads in the sand for a couple more years while they make up their minds.
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