America is based on trust. That’s why President Donald Trump is winning and why Democrats are flailing — on the campaign trail and in their impeachment trial. Let me explain.
Our nation was born, in 1776, with our Founders’ promise of “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to one another. Our Constitution was rooted in 1787, creating — in Benjamin Franklin’s famous warning — “a republic, if you can keep it.” And of course, the only way to “keep” a republic is through institutions of mutual trust and responsibility — from your local churches and Little Leagues up to federal agencies and the news media who cover it.
Today, you hear a lot about our institutions breaking “down,” but in truth, they are breaking “trust.” Recent examples are fresh in our minds: The child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, the explosion of #MeToo cases finally taking down prominent business and entertainment superstars, the monstrous lies of the Bush and Obama administrations told to cover up their military failures in Afghanistan, and even the revelations of rampant cheating in Major League Baseball.
But perhaps the greatest threat we face today is that in this age of distrust, scandals like those are still shocking, but no longer surprising. America’s vast reserves of trust — built up through generations of cooperative association in our voluntary civil society, our free enterprise economy, and our accountable, constitutional republic — are being drawn down every day. Leaders treat their organizations the way spoiled toddlers treat their toys.
The problem is everywhere, but like most problems, it’s worst in Washington, D.C.
Today, Congress is leading America’s institutional race to the bottom. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her lieutenants think their impeachment witch hunt is hurting President Trump. But the president’s polling indicates they’re not making a dent — he’s as popular as ever, and deservedly so given his record of almost uninterrupted success in foreign, domestic, and economic affairs. No, Washington Democrats are really hurting the American people, by turning the House of Representatives — and now the Senate — into a phony kangaroo court.
No one involved with the impeachment believes Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors. No one believes he’s going to be removed from office. They simply see the impeachment process as one long attack ad against the president that the liberal media will happily air for them, free of charge. All they care about is attacking President Trump and defeating him in November. (Just like 20 years ago, they didn’t care President Bill Clinton was a perjurer and serial sexual predator; they cared about defending “their team.”)
Blinded by partisanship, Washington Democrats in both cases ignored the damage they have done to the credibility of our governing institutions.
As a nation, we’re facing generational challenges: $22 trillion in debt, driven by unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security; a crisis on our border that could explode any time, as drug cartels continue to gain power in Mexico.
Congress created those problems, and so squandered the public trust necessary to solve them right away. But rather than doing the hard work of rebuilding that trust on which our system of government depends, they are embracing the dysfunction. This impeachment fiasco, following on the Mueller investigation, has not only undermined Congress’s credibility — but that of the FBI, the Justice Department, the media, and the entire governing class. Thanks to the Democrats’ reckless partisanship, our institutions are literally in worse shape today than they would have been had they done nothing at all for the last three years.
At a time when the American people are craving authenticity and candor — like President Trump’s straight-talking approach — the Democrats are doubling down on the politics of deception. From the media’s addiction to “Fake News” to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) biographical lies to Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) dissembling about the “whistleblower” to the Deep State’s open conspiracy against the president, the Democratic Party sees its only political hope in exacerbating America’s crisis of distrust.
They believe the only way they can win is by making sure we all lose.
It’s up to Republicans to follow the president’s lead, in this impeachment trial and beyond, to finally rebuild that credibility. He seems to be the only leader in Washington who understands that the only way to win back the people’s trust … is to actually be trustworthy.
Jim DeMint, chairman of Conservative Partnership Institute, formerly served as president of The Heritage Foundation and as a U.S. congressman and senator from South Carolina.