Twitter is a minefield right now. I’m sure this is true across all aspects of social media because friends who use other platforms have told me the same thing; that activists are frothing at the mouth in calling for impeachment. I get it. I’m furious that Donald Trump continues to act like the law doesn’t apply to him and tired of feeling like it actually might not. I support moving forward on a formal impeachment investigation that would involve hearings and possibly lead to some more table-turning discoveries. But because I am a trained attorney, I also understand the need to collect solid facts and evidence, lay a proper groundwork and present a rock-solid case to the jury. The jury in this instance will be the American public after the U.S. Senate will undeniably refuse to move forward on impeachment and how the process is perceived will determine the 2020 election.
Social Media is Not the Real World
A recent collection of polling shows that Trump’s job approval rating has stayed put between 38 and 44 percent of Americans approving of the job he’s doing overall. This means what we already knew-that his base will not flinch no matter what happens. This has been emphasized by his continued support even in the face of large income tax increases and the hit to business, particularly in farming and industry, that his latest trade war with China have caused. His policies are hitting his own people the hardest but they refuse to quit him.
A Quinnipiac University poll reflects that the majority of U.S. voters are not in favor of impeachment even though they think Trump is a criminal. In this poll, 66 percent of American voters say that Congress should not begin impeachment as compared to the 29 percent who want it. Even though Democrats support impeachment 56-38 percent, that number in favor is still not exceptionally high, especially when compared to Republican opposition, which is 95 percent against impeachment. A critical number to review in terms of impeachment is Independents, because they are essential for the Democratic Party in 2020 and they are strongly against moving forward on impeachment at 70-27 percent. You can make the argument that impeachment shouldn’t be political, but the reality is that the next presidential election is the horizon and there’s no way around it.
These polling numbers against impeachment exist even in the face of a majority of American voters saying 57-28 percent that Donald Trump committed crimes before he became president. Compare this number to the results of a March 5th Quinnipiac National Poll, before the release of the Mueller Report, in which voters said 64-24 percent that Trump committed crimes before he was elected. In terms of polling, the Mueller Report and the subsequent spin the Trump Administration was able to do thanks to Attorney General William Barr, was effective in pulling more independent support.
What is telling from this polling data is that the country is completely split on their view of Trump committing crimes after he took office-46 percent of voters say Trump committed crimes since he became president and 46 percent say he didn’t. Although it’s possible that these numbers have shifted since this poll was conducted on May 2nd, it’s not likely considering Mueller’s press conference did not provide much new information capable of seriously shifting public perspective.
What is Pelosi Thinking?
It’s important to note that although the House is now held by a Democratic Majority, the lead on voting to impeach would be slim. There would need to be 218 votes from house members out of 235 people in the total Democratic caucus. Although the house most likely has a pro-impeachment majority at this point, only 52 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives publicly support impeaching or formally investigating Trump, and the needle has not moved much since Mueller spoke publicly. There are also 31 house members who represent districts Trump won in 2016 and risk another loss in 2020 by calling for impeachment, which would take us right back to the beginning.
We have polling data that says that impeachment is not a particularly popular proposition, even amongst Democratic voters and we have the hesitation of house members to commit publicly to moving forward for various reasons. We also have the need to present a methodical, flawlessly conducted investigation to the senate that utilizes the courts, which are slow. But most importantly, we have seasoned politicians who understand that if we lose again in 2020, we will have no where to go.
Nancy Pelosi may be moving slowly, but she’s moving. She’s keeping the pace of someone who has a big-picture perspective of all of the political and legal strategies available, despite this being un-charted territory. Although she has not announced a formal strategy for moving forward, she has kept the public updated on incremental changes that have pushed the majority closer to investigative hearings. She has affirmatively stated that she believes the president has violated the constitution and needs to be held to account. Even though some people are demanding that she do this with her hair on fire and her head spinning, she can’t. Firstly, because she’s a woman and the double-standard would annihilate her and secondly because it’s her job to be a calm and effective leader and keep everyone unified.
She has announced every collective step closer to impeachment and she does this with caution because she has to coordinate many opposing sides within her own caucus. It was only last week that she formally accused Trump of committing a “cover-up.” These slow, methodical steps while adding increased pressure to the question of “will they or won’t they” always keeps Trump guessing. Pelosi has made it clear she knows how to play Trump, she does it beautifully. She’s doing it now. The people who claim to support her, but who are quick to call for her removal, who are angry at her failure to make a public statement about the exact details of the plan have overlooked some things. Consider the many court challenges brought by Congress against Trump that he continues to lose on a weekly basis. Or the three distinct committee arms who are each traveling down different roads to ultimately attack from opposite angles. Or the way certain members are so coordinated with their press game that they each have a strength and take the lead when it is needed. Or the fact that the Democratic candidates, for the most part are all on the same page moving forward, but it has yet to be an issue for them in their individual campaigns and no one has spoken out against another Democrat. None of this is coincidence. It is all very coordinated and part of a strategy that Pelosi is managing.
It’s necessary to remind people intent on attacking Speaker Pelosi and even calling for her removal that she is not wholly in charge of this collective law-making body. She has a lot of players, with differing speeds and agendas that she has to corral into a unified force. Moving at this pace may not even be what Pelosi wants at this point, but if she only has a narrow party majority, and there is an impending inevitable loss in the senate, the foresight to see how this all plays out in 2020 is invaluable.
Keep fighting for what you believe in, I’ll be right there on the front lines with you.
With all of this being said, I am in favor of moving forward on impeachment, even though it will be quashed by the senate. I think we should do it for ethical reasons to make a statement about accountability. But I can also recognize that I do not have the experience of Nancy Pelosi and other seasoned house Dems. So, until I have major cause to turn on such a proven leader of my party, I will support her. This is the one good quality Republicans have-they know how to get in line and push the ball forward at all costs. If you want impeachment proceedings to begin, great-but be smart about how you advocate for it. Look up where your specific Representatives stand on the issue and contact them directly to push them to push for it. You can be firm while being respectful, in fact, it’s the best way to get people to take you seriously. Moving the dial internally is the strongest way to get leadership to pivot. Ranting in every comment section of social media about Pelosi or impeachment to start fights with people you don’t know on social media is a waste of time and dangerous, because it galvanizes the opposition. Keep fighting for what you believe in, I’ll be right there on the front lines with you. But don’t waste your time with pointless fights-otherwise people will think you’re too angry to know what you’re talking about, you will sway no one and you’ll prove that you’re only really interested in fighting.
Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero and a Scholar” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.