If one watched any part of the impeachment hearings or “trial” for more than 15 minutes, or even casually paid attention to the news reports about it or the Ukrainians involved, there were five words that are probably ringing through one’s head still to this day. Words that rattle around in one’s brain even though the whole impeachment “trial” is now over. Those words would be Joe, Hunter, Biden, and most importantly, the keyword to tie it all up into one word: Burisma.
Of course, those were the words that Donald J. Trump wants America to hear and associate with each other. The way we associate words like Big Mac with Mcdonalds. Or Hillary Clinton with Benghazi.
Originally, those words were supposed to be uttered out of the mouths of Ukrainian President Vladamir Zelensky. He was supposed to make a big and grand announcement that they were investigating Hunter Biden getting a job there. He was supposed to implicate Joe Biden as crushing any previous investigations into his son getting gainful employment.
Burisma was supposed to be the 2020 version of “Benghazi.” Something his flock could shut down any meaningful conversation with. One word, nice and simple. Trump could use it in ads if Joe got the nomination. It was the perfect marketing tool. A way to convert a guy who was rated the poorest man in the Senate. The guy who rode the train from Wilmington to Washington with the people every week could become some nefarious criminal mastermind. Never mind if any of it was true or not.
Along the way, however, came the “whistleblower.” Then came the investigations into Trump trading weapons, aid, and a White House meeting for that announcement. The announcement, not any investigation, or one that actually netted anything, was the key. In that announcement was the perfect gaslighting rhetorical tool that Trump could ride to a 2020 victory. A perfect distraction from the real investigations about him and/or his associates.
This would allow his supporters to draw the obvious false equivalencies about politicians that basically say “they are all the same” and then further justify their support for Trump by rationalizing that “at least Trump is looking out for us.”
Those announcements never came as planned, however — at least from Zelensky and the Ukrainians. Trump got his bidding done despite that unplanned detour — from a complicit GOP Senate and the almost 200 Republicans that make up a slight minority in the House of Representatives.
The Washington GOP made sure they brought up Burisma and the Bidens at every opportunity. Even without any actual investigations (because all the previous inquiries into the matter turned up no wrongdoing, only a little shameless nepotism, which isn’t uncommon at any economic level) Trump got his wish in the form of them during the House hearings and Senate “trial” repeating those words whenever they spoke.
They didn’t have to get promised anything tangible in return like the Ukrainians were — just the threat of being primaries if they didn’t perform for their dear leader.
We are now seeing the fruits of their labor. The labor that the Ukrainians had to nix when the scheme got exposed. Joe Biden got beat bad in the first two contests, and word is that his “stronghold” of South Carolina is weakening as well. If you think about it, nothing has really changed about Biden, and most Americans know who he is — except now, the word association with Biden and Burisma is complete.
Of course, everyone remembers 2016, when people who might have been on the fence, got soured on voting for Hillary Clinton when the words “Benghazi” and “emails” and “private server” got knocked around regularly by Trump and his advocates. Those words would then either be replayed in clips or mentioned in articles throughout the campaign.
No matter who any individual voters on the Democratic side are supporting in 2020, one thing is a safe bet — almost no one wants to have to endure having to answer for scandals, even if “trumped-up” and frivolous. Just the mention of the scandals prevents any real discourse from happening. That, in the end, leads Trump’s supporters to cling to the “everyone is a crook” and “our guy at least stands up for us and ‘Murica” state of mind.
They never have to even consider anything else.
Democrats might try to counter (as they usually do) with long-winded explanations about conspiracy theories, actual corruption involving the Ukrainians, and Trump’s unpresidential behavior. All that just bores Trump’s supporters and they revert to their “everyone’s a crook” and “Trump stands for us” safety net.
What Democrats probably should do is counter with their own one-word retort — impeached.
Regardless of how the Senate “trial” ended up, the impeachment black mark will always stand — just as it did with Bill Clinton. Just as “resigned in disgrace” did with Nixon (yes, I know that’s three words but Americans had a bit better attention span then).
Just throwing the “I” word in to interrupt any Trumpian rant is how the Dems can counter Trump’s marketing plan. Let them get into the long-winded explanations about the “trial,” witnesses, and other wonky details. That will allow Democrats, Independents, and even some anti-Trump GOPers to simply yawn and vote for whoever emerges from the Democratic pack in the primaries, or even the Convention as they think “anyone’s better than Trump.”
Again, a nice simple line. No complexities, no nuances — just an anyone but Trump attitude.
Indeed, Democrats would be well-served to take a simple approach to 2020 just as Trump and the GOP have been successful in doing for decades now. In fact, it may be their only path to victory, no matter who is the nominee — progressive, moderate, or (real) billionaire.
Then, and only then, can we all get back to actually moving America forward and undoing at least some of the damage Trump has done.
Featured image via Cleaningouttheclutter.com