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The Democrats are one step closer to their ultimate goal: Impeaching President Trump. This is the real meaning of the Pennsylvania special election results in the 18th Congressional District.
The Democratic candidate, Conor Lamb, appears to have defeated Republican Rick Saccone in a photo finish. Both the GOP and the mainstream media are obsessing over Lamb’s strong performance, attributing it to him being a “conservative Democrat” who appealed to blue-collar voters. Lamb claims to be pro-guns, pro-military and anti-Pelosi. For House Speaker Paul Ryan, this is why Lamb won. Hence, there is no reason for Republicans to panic.
He is wrong (as usual). Whether Lamb is a genuine blue-dog Democrat is irrelevant. This was a district that Saccone should have won—easily. It went for Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 20 points. It has been solidly red for years; so much so that, in the past, Republicans have often run unopposed. Lamb’s victory marked a 20-point swing. The GOP’s biggest concern should be that, for the first time in a long while, the Democrat won the white working-class. This is the Republicans’ base. If they start losing blue-collar white voters, then the GOP is going to be decimated in the November midterm elections.
And there is no escaping an undeniable fact: Lamb’s win means Nancy Pelosi is one step closer to recapturing a Democratic House majority. The Democrats only need to pick up 24 seats. Should this happen—and it is increasingly likely that it will—then Trump will be impeached. The Democrats’ strategy is clear: Regain control of Congress in order to paralyze Trump’s presidency with impeachment proceedings. Progressives are demanding it; the media wants it; and leading Democrats, such as Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Adam Schiff, are promising it. Their goal is to consume Trump’s administration, and continue their “resistance” movement in the hope of bleeding his popularity to eventually force his ouster from office. Liberals have never accepted Trump’s legitimacy. They want to implement a political coup d’état. This is why CNN and MSNBC were practically popping champagne corks upon the news of Lamb’s stunning upset. They believe it is the beginning of the end for Trump.
Which begs the question: Why did Lamb do so well? First, he was the beneficiary of an energized Democrat electorate, the so-called resistance, which rabidly opposes Trump. They will be out in force come November. Second, Saccone was a weak candidate, who lacked Lamb’s charisma and campaign skills. Lamb outworked and out-campaigned Saccone. He simply wanted it more.
Yet, there’s a more fundamental reason. Many Republican voters stayed home. In other words, unlike galvanized Democrats, the GOP base has become demoralized, disillusioned and lethargic. And who could blame them?
Outside of tax reform, congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to obstruct or undermine Trump’s America First agenda. They have opposed him on numerous issues—repealing Obamacare, pulling out of the TPP, renegotiating NAFTA, imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, confronting China, a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, and creating a merit-based immigration system. The biggest, however, is the GOP establishment’s hostility toward Trump’s call for a massive wall along the porous southern border. The Ryan-McConnell-McCain Republicans refuse to fund the building of the wall. This was Trump’s seminal campaign pledge. Among his supporters (myself included), it is the most important issue—restoring our borders, national sovereignty and cultural identity. The do-nothing Republican Congress does not want to act. Because its leaders are beholden to the donor class, not the voters.
The GOP is split into two hostile and irreconcilable factions—half Trump, half Bush. Trump is a conservative populist, who opposes open borders and free-trade globalism. The Ryan-McConnell-McCain wing are corporatist elitists, who favor perpetual war, unlimited immigration and transnational trade deals. They are part of the swamp, the corrupt Washington cartel that couldn’t care less for the working folks in Pennsylvania. In fact, it is obvious that the Republican establishment would rather lose control of Congress than allow Trump’s America First populism to succeed. They view him as an interloper, who is engaged in a hostile takeover of their party. Trump threatens their vast power, wealth and status. They want him out almost as badly as the Democrats.
This is why the Pennsylvania race matters. The GOP is going down in November—and Republican elites don’t care. So long as Trump gets impeached.
-Jeffrey T. Kuhner is host of “The Kuhner Report” on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.