Written by Twumasi Duah-Mensah
The moment US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, finished his testimony, you knew you had it. You had all the evidence you needed to successfully impeach President Donald Trump.
Excited, you dialed your stubborn friend who remained unconvinced by all this impeachment garbage. You laid out your case tactfully and masterfully.
“Did Trump demand Ukraine investigate the Bidens?” he asked. “He was the brains behind it all, and every one of his officials knew about it!” you exuberantly responded.
“Did he threaten to slash military assistance to Ukraine if they didn’t investigate it?” he pressed. “Indeed he did!” you replied.
“Surely, he meant to actually see if Biden was doing something fishy,” your friend challenged. You answered with a question: “if he was so serious about stopping crime or corruption, why would he pressure Ukraine to announce the investigation and alert criminals to it?”
It’s over. There was no way your friend could dig himself from this hole. Trump abused his presidential office just to boost his reelection campaign, and you had the cold, hard facts to prove it.
“That’s good that he wanted Ukraine to announce the investigation,” retorted your friend. “Every American should have the right to know who slimy swamp dwellers like Creepy Joe really are. I was losing hope in Trump to drain the swamp, but now, my hope is renewed.”
You hang up immediately. No way. He has to be joking.
He doesn’t just see past the abuse of power—he endorses it. It’s the same myopic political ideology that keeps you wondering why you’re friends in the first place. The same drivel leaving you to reminisce about the good ol’ days—days that faded quickly when Trump first mentioned the wall.
That damn wall. What about it amazed your friend so much that he jumped onto the Trump train? To you, it was an overpriced symbol of xenophobia. To him, it was the middle finger the world needed to understand that, finally, America wasn’t putting anything or anyone but America first.
It’s a symbol that contributed to Trump winning over voting blocs like working-class whites in the Midwestern United States. For a group screwed over by a rapidly-changing manufacturing industry, “America First” was a message that, at the very least, piqued their interest. And a candidate building his platform on bringing jobs back to America seemed very appealing. You knew he wasn’t bluffing, either; he was some stuffy businessman from New York, and even he knew we had a huge problem on the border.
Very quickly, Trump’s simple but effective rhetoric built him a strong base across the nation, but it was his support in the Midwest that flipped key states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the 2016 election. Trump voters were hopeful that their candidate would transition the country from languid, Great Recession recovery to meteoric, “America-First” growth, though they were also wary of establishment politicians hellbent on halting his agenda. They knew if Trump was to achieve more than just economic growth, he’d have to “drain the swamp” first.
And unfortunately for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, he finds himself as one of the swamp monsters Trump’s base want taken down.
From the depths of Twitter to the studios of Fox News to the halls of the House of Representatives, conservatives found Biden’s son, Hunter’s, foreign excursions characteristic of a politician protected by “the establishment.” Comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s misadventures were inevitable. And how did Joe defend his actions? Calling the person who challenged him at a rally “fat” and childishly challenging him to a push-up contest, a reaction many Democrats couldn’t even justify.
After calculating all those variables, from a conservative viewpoint, it isn’t too controversial to conclude that Trump investigating Biden was in the name of tearing down establishment politics. It’s no wonder why, instead of trying to argue Trump’s intent wasn’t to fuel his re-election campaign, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani posted about the need to investigate the Bidens, knowing very well Trump’s loyal base wouldn’t want another presidency from a goofy, creepy swamp dweller, as reflected by pro-Trump Breitbart.
Ultimately, impeachment isn’t as much of a legal process as it is a game of political calculus. For Republicans, the math is simple: Trump’s approval rating among their party has never dipped below 79%, and Republican support for impeachment is at a pitiful 10%. As long as the labor market stays somewhat stable for key Trump voter groups such as Midwest working-class whites, and the President continues fighting “the establishment” to fulfill promises like a new trade deal with China, that number isn’t changing anytime soon.
The Senate GOP may be reserved to some of Trump’s actions—especially these latest shenanigans—but the numbers spell a clear message: send Trump out of office, and Republican voters will send you with him. Republican senators will almost certainly prevent the ⅔ of Senate votes needed to remove the President from being reached. Heck, the base might even applaud President Trump for his efforts to drain the swamp, mobilizing them to stuff the ballot box and bring him another election victory.
Back when Trump was on the campaign trail, he claimed he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters.” If two Americans can look at his impeachment case and come to two wildly dissimilar conclusions, he was probably right.