Americans who listened to the speeches by House Republicans on Wednesday got an earful of crazy. They heard truly nutty and hysterical rants comparing impeachment to Pearl Harbor or insisting impeachment was less fair than the Salem witch trials and Pontius Pilate’s trial of Jesus. (Oddly, evangelical leaders did not protest the blasphemy in equating President Donald Trump with their savior.) Americans who tuned in or caught some of it on the news heard a lot of screaming and baseless accusations of criminality — against Democrats. Some voters may have been distressed – infuriated even – that elected officials should behave like this. I look at it a bit differently.
The 2020 election will likely be decided by suburban voters, white female voters in particular. White women narrowly voted for Trump in 2016, and polls show him losing these voters, especially college-educated white women, by a wide margin. Some of these voters cast ballots for Trump in 2016 as a protest vote or thinking he would never win. Some voted for him because they loathed Hillary Clinton or they hoped he would “grow” in office. Some stayed home because they disliked both candidates. Many of these same voters turned around in 2018 to vote for moderate Democratic House candidates, a lot of them women.
When these voters look at Republicans’ harangues or hear clips on news or on social media, many surely must find them shockingly rude, irrational and just plain scary. Voters might have heard about Trump’s letter, an insulting screed against the most powerful woman in U.S. political history. They recognize the behavior well (from their homes, their kids’ classrooms and their workplaces) – an arrogant man who got caught in the act and now enlists his pals as he tries to lie and bully his way out of trouble.
These voters might not like impeachment because it has given the floor to these bellowing bullies,who have attacked and interrupted witnesses in the hearings and tried to disrupt the proceedings like truculent teenagers looking to get out of math class. However, such voters are getting an important reminder that, above all other ideological or policy issues, they really do not like Trump and his nasty accomplices. They want them off their TV screens and out of their Facebook feeds. The critical female voters want grown-ups to be acting as they theyselves must in their own lives; namely, with self-control, rationality and politeness.
Female voters in this category might wonder why Trump, who promised to pass prescription drug price legislation, is not insisting his party move forward on the bill the House passed or why he spends his time insulting his political opponents. Why does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, get to keep his job when all he does (other than rubber-stamp judges) is obstruct? These are good questions.
You see, rather than be irritated by House Republicans’ public temper tantrums, those eager for Trump and Republicans to be voted out of office in 2020 should be delighted they are showing their true faces. It is important for voters to see who these men are (and nearly all are men) and how Republicans conduct themselves, and to remember that instead of elected officials they act like abusive spouses or bosses. No woman could behave like a crazy person and keep her job.
In short, when critical female swing voters get a full dose of Trump and the conduct he inspires, I suspect it reminds them why they sent Democratic members of Congress to the Capitol to restrain him. It impresses on them why they must vote next November for whoever has a “D” next to his or her name no matter what. That’s the only way to make the Republicans stop and just go away.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post. Follow her @JRubinBlogger.