What will it take to remove President Trump? Lots of folks have answers; there is really one sure fire method.
Take, for example, Tom Steyer’s petition to impeach the president. The billionaire has put $20 million of his own money into this project and the results are clear. Numbers are up to 2.6 million sign-ons, according to the Times Square billboard he put up. Democracy at work, with a modern, internet twist; these are wildly impressive figures.
Except that they aren’t. The FCC alone received 20 million comments on net neutrality, mostly in favor of keeping it. That’s almost ten times the response to Steyer’s petition; and that came in without any billionaire’s urging, without any centralized, well-funded campaign to rally the populace. Oh, and, by the way, the Trump administration still ignored that greater figure, and repealed rules guaranteeing an open internet, totally and completely.
Pointless, in other words, with Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress. And there is so much to do instead. Ben Mathis-Lilley, in Slate, wrote of Steyer’s project, “Such a push would divert political capital (and literal capital) away from the more pressing goals of 1) resisting specific Trump policy measures and 2) contesting the 2018 races that will be crucial to gaining enough power in Congress to actually win an impeachment vote.”
He continued, “Meanwhile, Republicans are closing in on passage of a monstrously unpopular tax bill. So, instead of funding ads that raise awareness of the tax bill's potential effects in swing districts, or donating to the grassroots groups that coordinate pressure on wavering GOP legislators, Steyer is paying for an expensive billboard to advocate a measure that has zero chance of success at the current moment—one that wouldn't even make sense right now if Democrats did hold Congress because the investigation into whether Trump committed impeachable offenses related to Russia is still ongoing. C'mon!”
Then there is the widespread belief that, bluntly put: Mueller will save us!
Maybe. But I do the past, not the future. People say, “He’s got to have something on Kushner!” Or on Trump, Jr.! Or on Trump himself! I don’t know, and you don’t either, unless you’re part of his inner team, and they, wisely, aren’t talking. For folks who hold to this, there is a sense he will swoop down, like a superhero. A t-shirt out there boldly proclaims: It’s Mueller Time!!! Kind of like Superman to the rescue.
This is an old Greek idea, from the immortal theater pieces, Deus Ex Machina. It literally means “the God in the Machine”. In these performances, just when conflicts seem unresolvable, a god appears and straightens out everything. This is a standard feature of action movies, millennia later. In westerns, just when everything seems hopeless for the wagon train, the cavalry shows up. You get the idea.
But it means that we don’t have to do the hard work, someone else powerful will take care of it. As long as they’re around, we’re off the hook.
Sorry, this is real life; things don’t work that way.
Trump will go down, but it will not be quick and it will not be done easily.
It will take every one of you. It will take time and a lot of slow, local effort.
Not the internet, not good wishes on a petition, not a millionaire, not a lawyer. But all of us, using something old and strong and true--but something magical.
It’s called democracy.
What will do the job is millions of Americans working in their own district to change Congress, get back the state houses, organizing to win the White House. This is time-consuming, steady work, grimy and not glamorous. Getting good candidates to run, and then voting wisely and not faddishly in party primaries. Making calls. Knocking on doors. Making donations. Getting everyone to vote.
This last seems simple and obvious, but it is anything but. The Democratic Party, spending hundreds of millions in 2016, still saw a dropoff—a significant decline in turnout—among key groups. Back in the days when unions were strong, they saw to it that their members got to the polls. Not just told them, but saw to it. They made clear that this was a sacred duty, then had trusted friends show up that morning and drive people to the polls. Who’s doing that next election? Will you? Will you organize meetings, a carpool? An election party people want to go to, but the price of admission is an “I Voted” sticker?
This and more like it will get change, nothing else.
A friend of mine swore that Trump will be out in a year. He lost that. Trump will be stopped slowly, in real time, not at the pace of the internet (as he insisted). Our markers are 2018, when we have to do everything in our power to change Congress, and then again, in 2020. If these fail, 2022 and 2024 await us. Think World War I; everyone thought it would be over quickly, but it was a struggle of attrition, of grinding the way to a win.
That, too, is how democracy works. Stop looking for easy outs. They don’t exist. But winning does.
Victory is in our grasp. We just have to work for it. It’s a slog, not a sprint. You should have started yesterday. What are you—yes you—doing to win in your area?
That is how we take down Trump.