by Reed Galen
As President Donald Trump begins his latest month in the midst of a political hurricane of his own creation, there have been no shortage of articles, blog posts and op-eds by columnists, former Republicans and Never Trumpers proclaiming “now is the time” for GOP leaders to stand up to the president and do what’s right for the country.
The vast majority of this writing takes place in the opinion pages of the Washington Post, New York Times and other Washington, elite-oriented publications. One could walk from Midtown Manhattan to Pennsylvania Avenue atop these pages and never touch the ground. Once again, we’re talking to the wrong people.
Unfortunately, those outlets reach predominantly coastal, left-of-center audiences. They don’t need convincing that Donald Trump should be removed from office. Until and unless we can communicate convincingly and holistically to those Americans well inside the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, we should not expect to see Republican senators shift position on impeachment.
A quick scan of sites well outside the Beltway, such as the Kansas City Star, the Nevada Independent or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reveals that individual Americans are not yet receiving, nor demanding the constant Trump-induced adrenaline drip. Voters may derive national political news from other personalized outlets, Facebook chiefly among them, but so far they may see the light and feel the heat, but they’re not yet willing to believe the country is on fire.
While more surveys show public support for impeachment proceedings, without the accompanying legs of the political decision-making stool: public pressure on officeholders to make a difficult choice and local opinion leader (and donor) air cover to provide comfort, no one in the Caucus of the Potentially Very Troubling is likely to do anything outside the bounds of self-preservation.
Communicating the stakes to these millions of voters will be essential to moving any Republican officeholder from their position of abject fear of Donald Trump and the minions he deploys to defend himself. Until and unless Senator Ben Sasse is approached by a constituent and asked to explain himself based on a story in the Omaha World-Herald, he is unlikely to feel the need or the pressure to stick his head up or his neck out — Trump’s rhetorical guillotine works too quickly and efficiently.
In cities, counties and states across the country, there are principled Republicans and conservatives for whom Trump has always been too much to swallow. They’re likely elected officials, community leaders or business owners. Finding these people may not be easy but it is a worthy endeavor to reach people where they actually live. These unicorns possess the credibility, networks and reach to convert their words and beliefs into individual action. Only when this movement, and it will be a movement, is appropriately catalyzed, will national Republicans believe they are able to act from a position of strength and, hopefully, act on the principles they know to be best for the country.
Without a doubt, there is pressure building within the Ready Pot that is President Donald Trump. When, how and where the steam blows the lid off is too hard yet to tell. Predictions, as 2016 should have taught most of us, are worth about as much as the 0s and 1s they’re written on.
President Trump’s behavior, from the darkened worldview he expressed in his inaugural speech to his willingness to utilize the power and authority of the presidency to protect and promote himself deserves a thorough and deliberate examination. Would the country be better off without Trump sitting in the Oval Office? Almost assuredly. But it’s not me, or you, we need to convince. What’s more, we’re not the people to do it.
Reed Galen is an independent political strategist. He left the Republican Party in 2016. He previously worked for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can follow him on Twitter @ReedGalen