Jason Sattler, Opinion columnist
Published 4:00 a.m. ET Nov. 5, 2019
Trump has wrapped your movement in a new dignity, and there’s an actual constituency for you to lead. You can help us get this man out of office.
Never Trumpers, if you do really exist, now is your time.
The full House of Representatives has officially embarked on the impeachment process that will almost surely lead to articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The House will approve or reject the charges, and the Senate will then decide whether to convict Trump and remove him. Now, before those House and Senate votes, is your chance to change history — if you can learn a few things from the Democrats who have succeeded in opposing this president.
First, thank the president for resurrecting your movement. With a few notable exceptions, the once conscientious objectors in your party who had braved the Wrath of Don have humbled themselves back onto the GOP gravy train — joining trounced competitors like Little Marco, “Truly weird Rand Paul” and Lindsey Graham (who was crushed before Trump could give him a nickname). Or they’ve joined departed Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker in the Phantom Zone, floating aimlessly among Trump critics unwilling to brave the prospect of being crushed in a GOP primary.
It’s enough to make meek Mitt Romney look like Braveheart.
A Never Trump constituency emerges
But now, without any evidence, Trump has slapped the “Never Trumper” label on the heroes who have finally stepped up to document his abuses of power, among them Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine and a Vietnam War veteran, and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and the National Security Council’s director of European Affairs. In doing so, Trump has wrapped your movement in a new dignity.
The even better news is that there seems to be an actual constituency for you to lead.
Polling shows that the percentage of your party that supports Trump’s impeachment is in double digits. Even more promising, independents — many of whom are right-leaning voters with too much pride or sense to be known as Republicans — are nearing 50% in favor of bringing this president up on charges. And if you take the names Donald Trump and Joe Biden out of the story, more than 80% of your own party recognizes that Trump has abused his office.
Never Trumpers, that’s millions of people open to your cause.
Now is the time to do more than seek their likes and retweets. Now is the time to use their disgust to give your party a transfusion of the thing it needs most — bravery.
If you believe the rumors, courage is the only thing holding Republicans in Congress back from standing up to Trump. “One Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump,” Mike Murphy, a former senior adviser to Sens. John McCain and Mitt Romney, said on MSNBC in September.
Unfortunately, impeachment happens in public.
Out of practice on bravery
Members of Congress, who spend most of their lives sucking up to big donors and cable news bookers, don’t get much practice being courageous. It’s quite possible you could make enough noise that members of the Republican Party are forced to consider the Constitution before they decide the fate of this presidency. At the least, you can make those Trump lackeys miserable.
Think about attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, Republicans had total control of Congress and the White House. There was no way that a party that had spent four national elections running against Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment should not have been able to deliver some sort of repeal to their new president.
But Democrats rose up. Inspired by a growing resistance and following the instructions laid out by former congressional staffers in the Indivisible guide, activists new and old marched to the phones. They called their members of Congress over and over, and they punched well above their weight.
Thanks to them, 21 million Americans still have health insurance.
If you can just get a fraction of the more than 700,000 voters who backed NeverTrump candidate Evan McMullin in 2016 to make calls, those rings will thunder in the ears of Capitol Hill, especially for Republicans in swing seats.
Unlikely doesn’t mean impossible
I know that waking your party from this trance seems unlikely. You know more than anyone that the only difference between the base of Trump’s party and a doomsday cult is that Trump doesn’t play acoustic guitar.
Nonetheless, what is the lesson of the past three years other than that unlikely doesn’t mean impossible? And what else do you have to do? Meddle in the Democratic presidential primary and whine about our candidates wanting too many people to get health care?
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Downside of Watergate: We found crimes. Now people think that’s what it takes to impeach.
Democratic primary voters shouldn’t listen to you, but Republican members of Congress should. And they should stand up for this country against a former Hillary Clinton donor who continually questions the loyalty of people who have been Republicans 10 times longer than he has.
Relying on the Republican conscience has gotten America into this mess. But if we’re ever going to get this man out of office, we’re going to need help from the right. Now is a good time to start practicing your courage and helping others find theirs.
Jason Sattler, a writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and host of “The GOTMFV Show” podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @LOLGOP
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