On December 18, 2019, the forty-fifth president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, was impeached by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. The impeachment took place a month shy of three years after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and no crime was alleged to have been committed. The vote was strictly along party lines: All House Republicans along with three Democrats voted not to impeach. Only Democrats voted to pass the two exceptionally vague articles of impeachment—”abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.” It was the first partisan impeachment in American history.
Seven weeks later, on February 5, 2020, the U.S. Senate voted to acquit the president of the impeachment charges.
His exoneration was also the result of a party-line vote. Only one Republican senator with a history of personal grievance against the president joined the Democrat minority in seeking to remove him. The final vote was 51-49. To convict a sitting president, the Constitution requires a vote of sixty-seven senators. The fact that the vote fell so short of the constitutional requirement—an outcome predicted by all involved-underscored the unusual circumstances of this moment in American politics, and the unprecedented divisions that lay behind them. During three years of Democrat attempts to remove the president on ever-changing grounds, Americans had come to realize that their country was off course, loosed from its constitutional moorings and far from its traditional orders of business.
How far? As head of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler was one of the two principal House managers of the impeachment process in the Senate. In the heat of those hearings, Republican senators refused to support a Democrat demand about how to run the proceedings. Nadler accused them of orchestrating a “cover-up” of the president’s alleged impeachable deeds. Nadler then went a momentous step further and called this opposition to a Democrat attempt to define the terms of the president’s trial “obviously a treacherous vote.”1 In other words, if Republicans didn’t agree with a Democrat effort to remove their president, that was treason.
Only twenty-one years earlier, during the impeachment of Democrat Bill Clinton, the same Jerrold Nadler had warned against precisely such partisan efforts to remove a sitting president. He called them a threat to the very fabric of America’s constitutional order: “There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by the other. Such an impeachment . . . would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.”2
These were wise words. America’s constitutional order, with its separation of powers and system of checks and balances, was designed to force warring factions to compromise and come together. The founders intended by these means to ensure stability and domestic peace. The fact that a prominent legislator, not to mention an entire political party, would dismiss these safeguards and pursue the very factionalism the founders feared was a disturbing indication of the dangerous waters the nation had entered.
At first glance, the candidate who emerged in 2016 should hardly have seemed a potentially divisive force. Donald Trump was a lifelong funder of liberal causes, a friend of the Clintons, a supporter of reproductive choice, an early advocate for inner-city children, a proponent of government programs and government spending. He seemed a likely figure to work with the opposing party on common interests. Yet before he ever entered the White House, the Democrats developed a hatred for Trump unprecedented in the annals of American politics. They formed a “Resistance” to his presidency, boycotted his inauguration, organized massive street demonstrations behind the slogan “Not My President,” and began talking about impeaching him before he even entered the Oval Office.
In committing themselves to these uncompromising factional lines, and launching a movement to sabotage Trump’s presidency, Democrats left behind half the country that had voted for him. Instead of seeking to win over the hearts and minds of Trump’s supporters in the tradition of American politics, they attacked his voters as “racists,” “white nationalists,” “sexists,” “homophobes,” and “Islamophobes,” and then included them in a Trump “basket of deplorables.” In doing so the Democrats forged an iron bond between leader and followers. Never in American history had a president been subjected to such withering and personally vindictive attacks. When Trump’s followers saw the wounds he was willing to suffer for them, they rallied to his defense.
Consequently, during the Democrats’ attempts to impeach Trump as a menace to the country—”a national security threat”—his support numbers grew and grew. The day of his acquittal, Gallup reported that Trump’s approval ratings had reached their highest point in his presidency.3 Republican Party approval ratings surged dramatically as well, while Republican fund-raising was at record levels.4 Yet Democrats persisted in their unrestrained personal attacks, apparently not grasping the fact that their unintended effect was to transform the man they called a “bully” into the perpetual victim.
Traditionally Democrats have approached politics as a form of war conducted by other means, while Republicans have entered the political arena as pragmatists and accountants. But the siege of Donald Trump has begun to create a new Republican Party, passionate and combative in defense of a leader they believe has stood up for them, and—equally important—who exceeds them in his appetite for combat.
“Populism” is the term political observers have drawn on to describe this phenomenon. The energy populism creates adds up to the blitz that is described in this book, and that has enabled him to overpower his opposition.
Blitz tells the story of the conflicts that define our troubling political era. It examines the sources of these political divisions, the causes of the confrontational path Democrats have chosen, and the strategic vision of a commander-in-chief willing to engage the battles and determined to win them.
As this book was in its final stages and heading for the printer, America and the world were struck by a deadly virus originating in Wuhan, China. In mid-March, as America became the nation with the most cases of the coronavirus (if you trust the Chinese statistics which I don’t), Trump declared himself “a wartime president,” fighting “an invisible enemy,” which he described as the most dangerous enemy of all. But anyone paying attention to the political battlefield knows that there are actually two wars engulfing the country, posing dire threats to its future.
The second—visible—war was launched four years earlier by Democrats and their deep state allies to prevent Trump from being elected, then to sabotage his presidency through a vaunted “resistance,” and finally to remove him from office through several failed partisan impeachment attempts. These seditious efforts are chronicled in the present book.
The first principal of psychological warfare is to attack the moral character and credibility of the adversary’s commander in-chief. If their leader is convincingly portrayed as being driven by ulterior motives that have nothing to do with the common good or winning the war, or worse as being a compulsive liar, he is effectively crippled in the task of mobilizing a united front in the war. Most people understand this, which is why there are so many calls for “unity” and working together in America’s current war with the invisible enemy.
Unfortunately, the threat posed by this global pandemic has failed to cause Democrats and their anti-Trump media allies to declare a cease fire in their war to destroy the Trump presidency by destroying the man himself.
This has not only made Trump’s task in leading the fight against the virus immeasurably more difficult, it has most certainly led to more cases of infection and more deaths. Readers interested in my views about the two wars can find them in an article titled “Wars Visible and Invisible,” which can be accessed here:
The virus and its consequences will eventually be resolved. Far more ominous for the future of our country is the war described in the pages of this book.