As I’m not the first to point out, when Democrats see bad polls, they run from them. When Republicans see bad polls, they change them, through persuasion.* With polls showing a dramatic swing in favor of impeaching President Trump, Congressional Democrats have stumbled into leading on the issue, now that leading and fleeing point in the same direction.
On Friday’s “Morning Joe” (Sept 27, 2019), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained her new support for impeachment: her position hasn’t changed, the situation has changed, because the glaring clarity of Trump’s abuse of power in the Ukraine scandal has made the case for impeachment so easy for the public to see and understand. She quoted Abraham Lincoln’s famous assertion (from his first debate with Stephen Douglas):
With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.
I respect Pelosi, and I often agree with her choices of pragmatism over purity. But here’s what’s missing from her precis of politics: the rest of what Lincoln said.
…Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed. [Emphasis added.]
The case for Trump’s impeachment was made a long time ago, certainly by the time Robert Mueller released his report and came as close as he could to calling for it in the face of the Office of Legal Counsel’s directive against indicting a sitting president. But Congressional Democrats couldn’t rise to the challenge of making the case to the public.
They had to wait for Trump to do that for them.
All smart politicians check polls, often daily. But there’s a difference between checking polls and being led by them. Leadership means standing in front of the crowd, not behind.
Democrats in Congress now find themselves in front of a crowd, one that’s growing. All they need to do is to keep moving forward. Hopefully they’ll get used to the feeling.
*I think I first heard Bill Maher say this, but I’m not sure if he originated it.