WOODY BASSETT: Democrats must be wise in approach to Trump

What should those who believe Donald Trump isn't good for the country do about it?

There are differing, strongly held views among Democrats and others on how to make sure Trump doesn't get a second term as president. One certainty is that anger alone isn't a strategy, though it does motivate people to vote. But it's not enough to just be against President Trump. The Democratic Party has to be for something and must give voters from every walk of life compelling, broad-based reasons their lives will be better if they elect Democrats.

While millions of Americans still support President Trump, Democrats would be well served to remember that many who voted for him in 2016 did so either because they didn't like Hillary Clinton or because they wanted to shake up the status quo in Washington. Lots of those voters have grown weary of Trump, meaning some of them will be willing to consider voting for another candidate, even a Democrat, in 2020.

There's an ongoing debate within the Democratic Party on how to deal with Trump because he's willing to do or say anything to promote his interests. He has no boundaries. The man practices values-free politics and has no respect for the truth. With a majority of the public now feeling exhausted and concerned with the president's erratic behavior and toxic rhetoric, it would be self-defeating for Democrats to stoop to Trump's level. Democrats need to rise above that and offer something positive for the country.

David Axelrod gave this advice recently: "I don't think people will be looking for a Democratic version of Trump. I don't think they'll be looking for people who can go jibe for jibe and low blow for low blow. I think people are going to be looking for someone who can pull this country out of the hothouse that we're in."

With Democrats now holding a majority in the United States House of Representatives, the smart thing for them to do is concentrate on the issues and problems that touch people's everyday lives, with affordable health care being a prime example. Moreover, congressional Democrats need to exercise some restraint in carrying out their constitutional duty to provide meaningful oversight of Trump and his administration. Because Republicans have lived in fear of Trump's base and his endless tweets, they forfeited their oversight responsibilities, which has resulted in no checks and balances on the executive branch since the president took office. But rather than hold hearings on everything, Democrats should carefully choose only the most important stuff to examine, matters in which the public has a profound interest in knowing what the facts are and what the truth is.

To increase the chances of winning in 2020, the Democratic Party needs to resist the urge to move too far to the left on the political spectrum and nominate a candidate who can connect with and appeal to independent voters and to moderate Democrats and Republicans. To ensure Trump's defeat and to make it more likely a Democratic president will be able to effectively govern and lessen the political divide plaguing the country, this is the right course to take.

The Democratic Party needs leaders who have the ability to reunite white, working-class people and racial minorities instead of pitting them against each other like Trump has done. The answer is for Democrats to be unequivocally for civil rights and to support measures that will help working-class people. We shouldn't have to choose one of these commitments over the other. If you care about racial justice, you have to care about economic justice. And if you care about economic justice, you have to care about racial justice.

Then there's the impeachment question. People must be patient with Robert Mueller, who has conducted a thorough and professional investigation. Let him finish the probe and issue his report. If Mueller produces conclusive evidence that establishes Donald Trump has committed a crime or serious impeachable offenses, then congressional Democrats will have a constitutional obligation to act. Short of that, impeachment proceedings should be a non-starter, no matter how strongly people believe Trump should be kicked out of the White House. The responsibility for Trump's presidency falls squarely on a Republican Party, which has cowered in the face of the president's onslaught and they should be stuck with that in 2020. A fruitless effort to boot Trump via impeachment would only benefit those who have given him a free pass from the day he was inaugurated.

The best way for the country to rid itself of Donald Trump is at the ballot box. And in the long run, it would be better for our democracy if the voters, not our elected representatives, remove Trump from office. He deserves to be soundly repudiated by the nation as a whole and sent home by a decisive majority of the American public.

Commentary on 01/17/2019

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