There is an old Zen saying: “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”
It is sage wisdom: Whatever existential awakening, or crisis, we might be facing, we still have our basic duties to perform.
For Republicans and Democrats, this sage wisdom is more applicable than ever:
Before Trump; chop wood, carry water. After Trump; chop wood, carry water.
Democratic alarmists assure us life cannot possibly go on while a madman is in the White House with his finger on the red button.
While most of us understand that this is indeed a daily reality for elected officials, mostly Democrats, the fact that Donald Trump remains in the White House is not foremost on everyone’s list.
First of all, aside from weighing-in via vote in November, ending Trump’s presidency is outside the purview of most of us.
In addition, it’s been over three-years; we’re all still here. Most of us are doing pretty well in the Trump economy, too. But there is still a great deal of work to be done in America.
Most working Americans aren’t able to bring their lives to a screeching halt in order to defeat Donald Trump by any means necessary. People have the same lives, families and work responsibilities they have always had. Few can afford to push all those things aside to focus on Trump.
Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t be able to do that either.
It is time for our elected officials to stop playing partisan power games and get back to the urgent business of governing.
The American people have been patient. Some, an ever-dwindling some more than others, have attended carefully to proceedings against Donald Trump in the House of Representatives.
When over a dozen of this nation’s top Democratic attorneys were named to a special investigation into possible election tampering in 2016, Americans patiently awaited the outcome.
Some passed the time burning Roger Mueller prayer candles and choreographing dance numbers for Saturday Night Live; others positive Trump would be exonerated. Some were open-minded.
Some voters believed the numerous assertions of prominent House Democrats, Rep. Adam Schiff chief among them, that they had seen and possessed irrefutable evidence against Donald Trump.
In the press, the walls were closing in on the Trumps for months. It was only a matter of time before Trump himself was to be led away in handcuffs, along with members of his staff and family.
When the Mueller Investigation concluded with the Mueller Report, that path to impeaching President Trump ended in a whimper. After two-years, over $30 million dollars, 14 of the top Democratic attorneys in the country could not produce a speck of evidence that a single American cooperated with Russia to throw the 2016 election to Donald Trump, let alone Donald Trump.
While some Democrats around the country remain convinced of Donald Trump’s guilt- indeed, many Democrats find Trump’s public behavior on Twitter alone sufficient reason to expel him from office- many moderates and independents were satisfied with the conclusion of the Mueller Report and ready to move on.
As the Mueller Investigation found, Russian misinformation campaigns played only a nominal role in the outcome of the 2016 election. The spreading of misinformation online is a small part of a larger problem, one deeply entangled with freedom of speech. There is no easy path to protecting future campaigns, in the U.S. and anywhere else on earth connected by social media, from misinformation spread online.
But there is a simple reason liberals aren’t ready to let Russia go.
In the minds of American progressives, Trump is fundamentally unfit. No authority on earth could ever produce enough evidence to persuade them otherwise.
Thus, Democrats in House leadership decided, in their wisdom, to have another crack at impeachment. Only a few short months after the Mueller Report anticlimax, the U.S. endured Ukrainian impeachment fever while other news, like the bombshell Afghanistan Papers, went unnoticed.
Now that the Ukraine impeachment gambit has failed, some Democrats are already pivoting to the next round of impeachment drama.
Other people in the Democratic Party, however, are waking to a stark reality: Democrats will be facing Donald Trump in 2020, and they aren’t ready.
Because as this Democratic primary and the latest impeachment fiasco in the House strongly suggest, Democrats might not have lost in 2016 because of the Russians. It might not have been because of Republicans, either.
Democrats may have lost in 2016 because of Democrats.
More specifically, they lost because certain idealogical portions of the Democratic Party were working to actively undermine other idealogical portions of the Democratic Party.
All in the name of the greater good, of course.
Democrats lost in 2016 because of Democrats who didn’t like Hillary Clinton. And Democrats who liked her too much- enough to push the primary in her favor against Bernie Sanders.
Like the campaign of Joe Biden in 2020, Democrats didn’t really need any help losing in 2016 from Donald Trump. Clinton was losing fine on her own from the very beginning.
Hillary Clinton was a poorly chosen candidate who helmed a badly-run campaign; one that underestimated the threat of Donald Trump, and the 63 million people who voted for him, until it was much too late.
Democrats lost in 2016 because of Democrats in the press who couldn't conceive of a Donald trump presidency and still cant. Major media outlets and the overwhelmingly Democratic people who run them were overly reliant on and confident in polls.
In 2016, most major media outlets gave Trump a less that 5% chance of winning the election until actual votes starting pouring in for him.
Kind of like the widespread denial in which media and establishment Democrats have been indulging over the campaign of Joe Biden, which was all-but doomed from the outset. Until the moment actual voters started weighing-in from Iowa and New Hampshire, the media at large was still assuring everyone that rumors of the demise of the Biden campaign were greatly exaggerated.
If Democrats aren’t getting 2016 deja vu in 2020, they aren’t paying attention.
This year’s crop of Democratic nomination hopefuls is not only making all the same mistakes their fellow Democrats made in 2016, they are making the same mistakes Republicans made in 2016 during a primary that gave them, against all odds, Donald Trump as their nominee.
In 2016 as in 2020, Democrats seemed determined to lose the battle and the war.
After all, it was a laser-focus on back-to-basics issues during the 2018 election that helped return Democrats to a majority in the House. Democrats stole swing districts, which had voted for Trump in 2016, back for the Democratic Party in 2018 by talking about affordable health care and jobs.
It is time for both parties to resign themselves to the fact that the voters will decide on the ultimate fitness of President Donald Trump in November.
And get back to work.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)