Here’s how the Democrats’ ‘impeach Trump’ obsession could backfire

Next week, Democrat activist Tom Steyer goes to Columbus, Ohio, to host the first of 30 “impeach Trump” town halls planned in coming months across the country. The gatherings are part of the billionaire’s $20 million campaign to unseat President Trump. His group, Need to Impeach, not only calls for Trump to be removed from office, but also pressures Democrat candidates to “take a stand” and join that effort.

Tom Steyer was the nation’s top political donor from either party in the 2016 election cycle, giving $91 million to Democrat candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the current cycle, he has pledged to spend $30 million to help Democrats take back the House of Representatives. That could buy a lot of followers.

Republicans need to make some noise, about Steyer and about the growing effort to impeach the president.  They must alert voters that if Democrats take back control of Congress in November, Donald Trump’s presidency could be in jeopardy. The left is hoping that possibility will boost Democrat turnout; it could become the biggest weapon energizing Republicans as well.  As every politico knows, the midterms are all about who shows up.

Heading into election season, Democrats have a big advantage: they are fired up. As Wendy Davis, the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor of Texas told MSNBC, Dems are "chomping at the bit" to get out and vote. The GOP, as is usually the case for the party occupying the Oval Office, is less engaged, as was seen in the recent Texas primaries. While Democrat turnout surged 84 percent compared to the last midterm, Republicans upped their showing by only 14 percent.

That “enthusiasm gap” could cause Republicans to lose the House this fall, and possibly even the Senate.  If Democrats win the House, they could, with a simple majority, pass articles of impeachment. They do not need Bob Mueller to reveal Russian collusion; opponents have already drawn up a long list of supposed misdeeds, including obstruction of justice, which was one of the charges brought against President Bill Clinton in 1998. We cannot assume this would be an honest undertaking; the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is alarmingly vague.

That’s where the left is: having “fun” speculating about impeaching President Trump.

The charges would then be referred to the Senate for trial, where a conviction would require a two-thirds vote.

It is highly unlikely that Democrats could muster that kind of advantage, but impeachment proceedings in the House would undermine President Trump and weigh against him and other GOP candidates in 2020. Republicans must not let this happen.

Democrat leaders recognize the political risk to their own party of the impeachment push, and have cautioned against it. When Texas Rep. Al Green demanded an impeachment vote on the floor of the House in December, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer issued a joint statement opposing the effort. Even so, 58 Democrats sided with Green. Pelosi told a CNN interviewer that impeaching the president is "It's not someplace that I think we should go,” even if they take the House. But in one more sign of the party’s internal friction, major donors and some in Congress have ignored those cautions and become ever more determined.

Steyer is not alone in putting money where his mouth is. Hustler publisher Larry Flynt took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post last October promising “$10 MILLION FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE IMPEACHMENT AND REMOVAL FROM OFFICE OF DONALD J. TRUMP.” The ad claims the president “was installed only by the quirks of the Electoral College” and offers a hotline available to those with dirt on Mr. Trump that might reverse that outcome.

Some Democrat candidates have jumped aboard the impeachment bandwagon. Former circuit court judge Mary Barzee Flores is campaigning to run for a GOP-held seat in Miami, and has pledged to pursue indictment.

She is not alone. The New York Times reports that several candidates in California, Nevada, Wisconsin and other states have also promised to support impeachment. For newcomers trying to grab attention in crowded fields like that faced by Ms. Flores, who is competing against six rivals, pushing impeachment brings attention and, maybe, cash. In her first two months of campaigning, the candidate hauled in $300,000.

One reason that Democrat candidates may campaign on impeachment is that they don’t yet have an alternative message. Last year Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rolled out his party’s limp Better Deal for American Workers, which made about as much splash as a perfect dive from an Olympic diver.

More recently, Democrats proposed a new plan, which would raise taxes on companies and individuals, and spend the money on infrastructure. As the recent GOP tax cuts power the economy forward, producing impressive job and wage gains, reversing gears seems like an incredibly poor idea.

Ben Mathis-Lilley at the left-leaning online magazine Slate frequently publishes an “Impeach-o-Meter,” which currently stands at 50 percent. His barometer, he writes, is a “wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends.” It moves up or down mainly depending on what Special Counsel Mueller’s team is up to. The latest reading of 50 percent reflected uncertainty about whether President Trump conspired with Russians to hack Hillary’s emails. The Slate writer says “That’s the fun part—no one knows!....It’s fun—it’s a lot of fun.”

That’s where the left is: having “fun” speculating about impeaching President Trump.

The GOP needs to wise up and capitalize on this challenge to our president and our democracy. Candidates need to call out Democrats advocating impeachment, and use that threat to energize voters. Most Republicans still support the president, and they certainly stand behind our democratic process. If they stay home this fall, both could be in jeopardy.