By Arab News
By Dr. John C. Hulsman*
Just after the earthquake of the 2016 US presidential election, I made one of my regular pilgrimages to Washington. As that rare Republican anti-Trumper, I pleaded with my Democratic colleagues to pull themselves together, to attack Donald Trump’s policies and not the man, and to prepare themselves for government in four years’ time.
Yet friend after Democratic friend exhibited the same odd response to my argument: “Yes John, you are right and we need to move on if we are to best Trump. However, I hate him so much … (fill in the blank as to the specific reason).” For me that moment is frozen in amber, as the Democrats have been unable to get over it ever since.
There is plenty to dislike about the personally distasteful president. But that is not why the Democrats hate him so much, a rancor that has entirely clouded their judgment, causing them to presently commit acts of constitutional self-harm in the guise of a deeply flawed impeachment process.
Instead, their malice stems from the fact that Trump’s victory in 2016 is so utterly incomprehensible to their overall world view that he is a fact that must be excised, or the Democrats will have to embark on a very painful journey of self-correction.
Prior to 2016, trendy American political risk analysis had it that with the historic victories of Barack Obama, the Democrats were in line to dominate the presidency for the foreseeable future.
A new majority coalition — due to altered demography — meant that they were becoming the natural party of government in the US. A coalition of white urban and suburban progressives, Hispanics (the fastest-growing voting group) and African Americans would see to it that, more times than not, the Democrats would find themselves in the White House.
Beyond this, Democrats truly believed that their ideas had eclipsed the tired old thinking of the more nationalist Republican Party. In an era of globalization and interdependence, an increased role for cooperation within the international community, and for global rather than national answers, was the unstoppable wave of the future.
These easy, arrogant and untested assumptions all came tumbling down with a resounding crash following Trump’s shock election. The white, high school-educated working class — a bastion of Franklin Roosevelt’s Democratic coalition — had not ceased to exist just because Democratic opinion-formers had forgotten them for decades. Instead, they voted for Trump in droves, managing to (just) overturn traditional Democratic bastions in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, narrowly handing him the election.
Likewise, unchallenged, elite-driven answers to the problems of the world were not so universally accepted. They sounded more than a little odd to working-class Americans, who in globalization feared for their immediate jobs and cared little about the theoretical scourge of global warming.
Think of any good Bruce Springsteen song, and you can see why these forgotten Americans across the rust belt of the Midwest thought they had been neglected and disparaged by a Democratic elite who cared more about islands sinking in the Pacific than their own embattled people.
Rather than thinking through these demographic and ideological mistakes made in the 2016 campaign, it is easier to demonize one man, as though his eradication makes the rest of what I have said here go away.
So in order to supposedly protect the constitution from an odious man, the Democrats have imperiled it. The House impeachment process has been disgraceful. After impeaching Trump for supposedly obstructing the House of Representatives by not making witnesses available, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is now clearly obstructing the Senate by not handing over the articles of impeachment for trial as she wishes to control the process, which constitutionally is entirely the Senate’s prerogative.
Furthermore, after denying the president due process in the House, where he was not allowed to put forward favorable witnesses, the speaker is now denying him the constitutional right to a speedy trial.
After saying Trump posed such a danger to the country that impeachment was the only remedy to save the republic — even though the next presidential election takes place in November 2020 — she has purposely slowed the process to a crawl, thereby invalidating her previous argument. The tawdry list goes on and on.
At base, this is clearly not about the constitution, the law or even basic reason. The Democrats have been so unhinged by Trump’s victory that they are committing acts of great harm both to themselves and America, coarsening the durable institutions of the country in precisely the manner they accuse their great enemy of doing.
It is already hurting them in the polls, as in the battleground states a majority is now against the impeachment and removal of the president, even as his personal approval rating has risen to around 45 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll of polls.
So, one last time, I urge my Democratic friends to discard the lunacy of their Trump Derangement Syndrome and think instead about the country. They have forgotten Abraham Lincoln’s great exhortation: “We cannot escape history. We, the Congress and the administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves.”
• Dr. John C. Hulsman is the president and managing partner of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, a prominent global political risk consulting firm. He is also senior columnist for City AM, the newspaper of the City of London. He can be contacted via https://www.chartwellspeakers.com.