Let me begin by apologising for not posting daily last week. I have been very busy creating content in support of the Democratic position on the impeachment trial. I thought it important to cut through some of the deflection and continued position of Republicans in the issue of the trial.
As part of creating the videos over the past few days, I have had the benefit of listening to every minute of proceedings as I cut up audio segments to include in what I was doing. It was an intriguing study of the fractured political landscape. More that that though, it caused me to pause, as I thought how I would position the Democratic Party following the outcome of the impeachment trial.
Let's start with the trial itself. It was for me, a shining example of everything that is wrong with American politics. It would be easy to say it's not fit for purpose, but far more difficult to try and explain why. Let me give it a shot. Since time began, politics has been blighted with corruption. Favours have been part of the fabric of political parties the world over. This is not a US disease, but it is a disease that makes the US one of the most hypocritical political establishments on earth. It has all too often stood in judgement on third world politics and the corruption of regimes all over the world. It has even intervened to help install governments. Yet rarely has it paused to take a look in the mirror.
As an outside observer, I don't really have a horse in this race, other than to advocate for the voices of the unheard and to create a better society, through addressing social and racial injustice, in the hope of forming a better more equitable society. So the conclusion is, were I a US citizen, I would undoubtedly be a progressive leaning Democrat. Then I do have a horse in the race I hear you say. My argument is, I have a set of personal values and the party with which I have synergy happens to be the Democratic Party. They don't own me, I lend them my support because we share a vision for a better tomorrow.
Politics is as much about the human condition, as it is about politics. By nature, we are survivors. The older we get, evidence shows, the more conservative we become. This happens because our survival instincts, dictate that whilst we are happy to help others, this takes a back seat to helping ourselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's an evolutionary imperative. The issue comes when we link this, to our natural addictive tendencies. Success and wealth is addictive in a way that financial hardship and despair are not.
This is the reason why in a modern democracy, the rich get richer, whilst the poor get left behind. Social strata is part of our DNA, it's what makes us who we are and trying to change that, is a lost cause. Giving to those less fortunate, is less about concern for their welfare and more about how good it makes us feel. Once again, there's nothing sinister about this. Without it, charities would not exist. It's why telethon events to rain money for good causes are successful, it taps into our collective sense of the good we are doing.
The reality is, no matter how philanthropic we are collectively, the wealth does not sit with the largest socio-economic segment in society i.e. middle and low income groups. The bulk of the wealth, sits with the top 5% and that 5% use their wealth to control the levers of government and increase their hold on the wealth of the nation. Hopefully, you can now see where we're going with this. The Democratic Party has traditionally been the party of the workers and the unheard, but as time as moved on, it could be argued, that the representation of the voices of the unheard has diminished, as Democrats embraced larger business donors and shifted to a more centrist position. There are those that argue, this was necessary to survive. Equally, there are those that say 'shame on them for leaving people behind.'
I can hear you saying 'Where on earth are you going with this Martin?' Stick with me a moment. The glue that does unite these two diametrically opposed political parties is MONEY. Neither can survive without it. The source of it, is where things have become interesting in more recent times.
In 2008, Obama pioneered the democratising of political funding, by embracing the internet and tapping into small donors on a mass scale. It was very successful for Obama and created the template for future campaigns. The problem that arose as a result, was that Trump took it to a whole new level, as he used his divisive, racist rhetoric to open the tap on what I have many times called 'tainted money'. The biggest step forward for Democratic fundraising became its nemesis, as Trump turbocharged it to use against them.
The Republican Party has become addicted to this funding stream and it is the money they are wedded to not the man. The problem they have, is that without Trump, the funding stream diminishes dramatically. Add to this, their shift to a far right position, has alienated a number of their corporate donors. Let me be clear here, had Trump not been overtly divisive and openly greedy, even to the point of killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, corporate money would still be there. These large donors prefer to operate in the dark. As soon as you shine a light on them and their donations to PACS, they run for the caves and take their money with them. Corporate interests don't give a damn who's in the Oval Office, as long as he or she is protecting their interests.
Take a moment to think. If ALL corporate donations were banned and each party was given an equal amount of public money to run their campaigns, or the only way you could raise funding was from members of the public. This would fundamentally change the landscape. Either of these options make perfect sense if you believe elections are free and fair. However, the fact is that they are not, so is it then a true democratic reflection of the majority? I think not. PACS were born to subvert election funding and both parties are equally as guilty of embracing them. Power equals money and influence. Donors don't donate as an altruistic exercise, they donate for influence. You can dress it up as you like, but this in the power dynamic that exists at the top of both parties. My argument is, that Democrats seem to make better use of influence, because they tend to use it more for the wider good, whilst Republicans do what they do best and just look after the donors.
So how does this relate to the impeachment trial? MONEY. Without it, the Senators that voted to acquit, will starve in a desert of absent donors and that's foremost in their minds right now. There is not a decent minded person that watched proceedings, that would have voted to acquit. This is where Dems win hands down. In the court of public opinion, Trump is seen by many as a felon, even by some of those that support him. Some people don't mind a criminal in charge, as long as they get what they need.
I know people will disagree, but I believe the days of Trump are numbered. He will face legal jeopardy in so many areas of his life, he'll be tied down in litigation and possible criminal charges for years. Not a good advert for Republicans running for office. Banks and large corporations are clearly able to see the toxicity of the Trump brand better that the Republican party. No bank will touch him and he faces financial problems at every twist and turn. Add to that, tax evasion issues and he really is a risky badge to wear when out campaigning. As with his big lie, Trump is now perpetrating a new big lie on the Republican Party, by having them believe without him, they will be out of power forever. It's probably his greatest con yet.
Having established why so few Senators voted to convict him in the impeachment trial, it is worth taking a moment to remember how the Impeachment Managers prosecuted their case. It was a masterclass in clear unambiguous presentation of untainted facts. Jamie Raskin is a consummate legal scholar, who presented the case in a moving, emotive way that was anchored by the TRUTH. His articulation of the key facts was masterful and at times dare I say, entertaining. The supporting cast was of the highest standard and the balance of the team was perfect. Each team member owned their segment of the presentation and they had clearly worked closely to create a seamless narrative that left the wider audience in no doubt as to the guilt of the president. The use of supporting media footage, was very effective and served to accent key messaging points. Let's not forget that the primary audience for this widely watched TV event, was not the Senators that would never vote to convict, it was the American people.
I read a number of well know Democratic supporting posts, directly following the vote to acquit and was frankly astounded at the almost unanimous feeling that passing on witnesses was a big mistake. I could not believe what I was reading at first, then I understood why the GOP is so effective when it comes to strategic thinking. Anyone who thought that hearing witnesses was critical to proving guilt needs to seek medical advice. When you get Lyndsay Graham voting yes to witnesses, you just know that you should back away.
He is terrified of the confirmation of Merrick Garland and saw this as a great opportunity to run blocking on his confirmation. Republicans were prepared to agree because they saw it as an opportunity to bring the Biden administration to a standstill on Cabinet nominations and other senate business. They knew they could not defend the indefensible, but if they could extend the process, it would deliver a massive win for them. Yet there they were, Democratic commentators in the Twitter-sphere saying Dems had sold out. WAKE UP PLEASE. I have said it time and time again, this is about smart politics not self serving emotion. Jamie Raskin thankfully understood this and did the right thing. If they had heard witnesses I guarantee the defence would not have convinced one more Republican to defect. Yet it would cost the administration possibly a couple of months of progress.
With regard to the defence, I sat with my head in my hands for most of their presentation. To be frank, I found it as embarrassing as Trump himself, in his role as the crazy uncle. The striking thing about it, was Bruce Castor and Michael van der Veen were merely the puppets, in a scripted made for TV moment. I twas a ridiculous attempt to portray the word ‘fight’ as a sinister left wing murder attempt on their client. Both Castor and van der Veen dutifully prosecuted Trump’s ‘big lie’. They wove it into a twisted narrative of denial of first amendment rights to their client. The defence’s focus on recreated tweets as ‘doctored’ were laughable given the originals were not available, but my gem of the day from Friday, was the suggestion that ‘cavalry’ should have read Calvary. This was a masterpiece of misrepresentation. The whole defence argument was based on deflection, misrepresentation of the facts and painting the Democratic Party as a rabid vengeful perpetrator of attacks on the former president. It held no water and was frankly farcical.
The most striking moment of the final day, was the statement by Mitch McConnell who did the old, 'let me have my cake and eat it'. He hid behind tissue thin process arguments, against a background where he himself had delayed the progress of impeachment to ensure Trump could run down the clock. He gave a damning account of Trump's guilt after he had just voted to acquit. It was simply bizarre, but on reflection, it was a masterclass in political manoeuvring. He knows there is a day of reckoning coming and this was his attempt to hedge his political bets.
Democrats got as much as they could from the impeachment trial. I actually saw it as a win and Mitch McConnell's statement for me was the icing on the cake. There is lots to be positive about and I think the trial did little to fire up the MAGA base. It's over and we can get back to the real business of putting America back on its feet and helping Americans that are struggling. Republican's have provided the messaging machine of the Democrats with some great material to go after vulnerable Republicans in the mid-terms.
Thanks for stopping by and stay safe out there.