The conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has done little to change the political topic du jour. As a former member of Congress, this is of little surprise to me. Throughout this process I have maintained support for the investigation and awaited its findings before issuing judgement and determining how we should proceed. However, many others have seen the controversy as an avenue to promote their personal brands.
Despite offering nothing to policy development, some members of Congress have been cast as 'leaders' because they’re willing to appear as pundits on a near-nightly basis. Throughout this process, these legislators have frequently tweeted links to stories based on dubious sources, yet lament the absence of statesmen from the public sphere.
Many ardent progressives turn to their favourite legislator-pundits as a source of therapy for their shock at Hillary Clinton’s loss. By continually questioning the legitimacy of the president’s victory and painting Trump – and his supporters – as fundamentally flawed, they feel as though the past few years can be somehow invalidated.
This is one reason why, though support for Trump’s impeachment has somewhat cooled even among Democrats, many progressive politicians and 2020 candidates continue to call for President Trump’s impeachment. Elizabeth Warren has doubled down on her calls for this approach, warning “Case not closed, buddy”. Several others have stated that he should be impeached, or at least that “a discussion” or “conversation” should take place (as if such a discussion has not been raging for months).
Democrats would be wise to follow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lead and instead focus elsewhere. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that while a majority of Democrats believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, only 37 per cent of US adults share that opinion.
This is certainly not to say that voters believe that President Trump did nothing wrong. In fact, the same poll found that roughly 60 per cent of Americans believe that President Trump lied to the public relating to matters investigated by Robert Mueller. What it does show, however, is that Americans generally don’t like impeachment. Not only does the Constitution establish a relatively high bar for it, but so do voters and elected officials.
Americans simply don’t like the uncertainty and heightened partisan rancour that come with impeachment proceedings – particularly if no 'high crimes' have been discovered. Impeachment also signals US instability and vulnerability to the world. Many Americans now feel that, given the completion and findings of the Mueller report, it’s time to move on and focus on issues that have long been left unaddressed due to partisan bickering.
Certainly, Americans deserve better from their leaders. They also deserve to have serious issues addressed by Congress. As the 2020 campaign season heats up, voters know that Democratic candidates dislike the president. What they’re uncertain of is how they’ll make life better for the average American. Instead of the unrealistic goal of impeachment, it’s time for Democrats to focus on crafting realistic policies instead.