Democrats Play a Greek Tragedy Against Trump
A distinctive feature of the tragedies of Ancient Greece relates to the overwhelming power of the impulses that move the central characters of those dramas. Sentiments are so strong, and ultimately so pernicious, that the heroes don’t mind inflicting damage or sufferance to themselves provided that their actions serve to destroy their enemies. In Ancient-Greece tragedies, passion outweighs discernment.
A paroxysmal case relates to Euripides’ Medea. Infuriated by the betrayal of her husband Jason – who had quitted her for someone else – Medea murders their own children so as to punish him. The pursuit of retribution thus proved to be stronger than maternal love.
Keeping things in proportion, Democrats’ attempts to nail the incumbent president and oust him from office bear a distinct resemblance to Ancient-Greece tragedies.
Make no mistake, contrary to Medea, Democrats are not trying to commit any misdemeanor whatsoever. But in their urge to castigate the U.S. president through legal battles and Congressional inquiries, they give signs of being ready to sacrifice their ability to reach out to moderates and independent voters (two fifths of the electorate), who are eager to concentrate attention on policy issues relevant to their day-to-day lives and care little, if at all, about Democrats’ legal skirmishes.
Polls conducted by not pro-Trump networks (CNN, Gallup, Morning Consult, you name it) indicate that impeaching the U.S. president does not form part of voters’ priorities. Even among Democrats, support for impeachment has been losing ground according to a poll conducted by CNN in March this year.
Democrats’ desire to take on Trump in the legal arena, however, appears to be stronger than electoral considerations. Like in the case of Medea, they are driven by a humiliation that governs their behavior. In their case, the humiliation stems from the fact a reality-show presenter without a solid political background, intellectually arid, and rough-mannered on top of all, succeeded in beating their illustrious candidate in the 2016 presidential election.
For Democrats, Hillary Clinton’s superiority was so manifest, and Trump’s incompetence was so appalling, that only “deplorables” could envisage voting for him. According to that line of thought, Hillary Clinton’s victory was a done deal. Too bad, Trump managed to win the race.
Cue the Russia-collusion narrative, which offered Democrats the perfect explanation of their defeat: if Hillary Clinton lost an unlosable election, the reason was not that her campaign was unappealing to large swaths of voters; it was that candidate Trump had entered into a malefic deal with a U.S. strategic rival, i.e. Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
For liberals and like-minded media, the collusion story became an indisputable fact. It was the task of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team to assemble the evidence that would substantiate the case for impeaching the president and oust him from the White House. Retribution was, therefore, just a matter of time.
Those expectations, however, crumbled like a house of cards. Despite being stacked with 14 Democrats against merely one Republican lawyer, and after nearly two years of investigation and millions of dollars spent, the Mueller probe did not find evidence to establish a charge of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump.
That setback has not led Democrats to give up hopes to remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office through legal channels. Since the Russia-collusion story has lost momentum as a result of the outcome of the Mueller probe, what has now become fashionable among Democrats is to envisage setting up Congressional inquisitions into Trump’s alleged obstruction-of-justice attempts and personal financial affairs.
Can the Democratic leadership pay heed to voters’ priorities and reverse course, that is to say, put aside the legal war and tackle instead the policy issues to which voters attach importance (as shown by the aforementioned polls)? Most probably not: as if Democrats were following the script of a Greek-tragedy, they appear to be compelled to keep fighting against Trump on legal grounds irrespective of voters’ mood and concerns.
As a matter of fact, what else can Democrats try to do with a view to prevail in the 2020 presidential contest? Truth is, not much.
Indeed, they can’t bring to the fore the policies they intend to put in place in case of victory in 2020: they are having a hard time in devising a cohesive program capable of surmounting the strong divide that exists between hard-left, democratic socialists and moderate presidential hopefuls.
Nor can Democrats move the fight to the economic front and take aim at Trump’s policies in that field: the U.S. economy is showing an insolent health – be it in terms of growth rates (above 3 percent in the first quarter of 2019), jobless claims (near a 50-year low), real wages (on the rise), and inflation (which remains subdued).
The resilience of the U.S. economy exacerbates the humiliation felt by Democrats vis-à-vis Trump’s performance. Was it not today’s House majority leader, Nancy Pelosi, who, in April 2017, had prophesied that Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would be the “end of the world,” giving it the epithet of “Armageddon”? Was it not Larry Summers, Clinton’s Treasury Secretary and economic adviser to President Obama, who, writing in the Washington Post on how ludicrous he thought Trump’s 2017 budget was, derided the budget forecasts that the U.S. economic growth would rise to 3 percent.
For Democrats, the guy who has caused so much discredit to their predictions has to be punished by all means.
Of course, the jig is not up. Perhaps the tepid growth of the world economy will finally impinge upon the U.S. economy before November 2020, that is, on time for Democrats to put the blame on Trump for an eventual slump. Perhaps polls showing that voters are tired of impeachment attempts will finally persuade Democratic leaders to switch tack and come up with a coherent set of policies that appeal to the public at large. Perhaps.
For the time being, however, the passions that consume Democrats nowadays push them to continue to play legal scuffles in Congress and elsewhere – and to hell with the outcome of the 2020 showdown.
As the argumentation presented in this op-ed began with a reference to ancient-times literature, let’s conclude it in a similar fashion, by recalling the following verses written by the Latin poet Lucretius in his De Rerum Natura (“On The Nature of Things”): “How pleasant it is, when windstorms lash the mighty sea, to gaze out from land the grave perils of others.”
It is in this nonchalant mood that President Trump likely finds himself as he contemplates how Democrats flounder in the impeachment net that they themselves wove.