Opinion

Wait — did liberals actually think they'd remove Trump from office?

Democrats, you've achieved a symbolic victory over the president. Savor it.

I don't know how to put this delicately, so I will just out with it, in the hope of sparing the feelings of as many New York Times columnists as possible: The American people are not all that shot up with impeachment.

It's true that polls show that many of us are broadly in favor of it, whatever that means (though others also show, oddly enough, Trump beating every single one of the roughly 437 Democratic hopefuls). But even those who will blandly affirm their support for the process in a poll were not exactly taking to the streets on Tuesday night.

Impeachment was always going to be like this: one of those pet causes beloved of (mostly wealthy or very young) liberal activists and very serious people in the media. The rest of the country, whatever they think about Donald Trump, have more important things to do than develop detailed and passionate opinions about the contents of the House's nearly 700-page impeachment report. As soon as it became clear that "Trump Ukraine impeachment" was not going to be a story involving Eurasian hookers and coke and urine-related videocassettes, people started tuning it out. Bill Clinton's impeachment also divided the country 20 years ago, but for some reason people seemed to care more about the details.

All of this was, as I say, predictable. So too were the increasingly serious-sounding negative repercussions from impeachment in crucial states like Wisconsin and Michigan. This is the price you pay for a self-aggrandizing cynical strategy long opposed by your own party's leadership.

What I don't understand is why so so many of the president's critics are still pouting. Gee, it's so disappointing that you got exactly what you wanted and roughly half of the American people nominally agree with you about it. What a pity that ordinary working men and women feel like they have better things to do than join the rent-a-protester mobs being put on by various well-endowed SuperPACs to protest — what, exactly? This impeachment game has been going on for a long time. Everyone knew what the final score would be.

So why shouldn't Trump's opponents enjoy impeachment for what it's been — that is, a massive if mostly symbolic victory? They got under the old lizard's skin. They made it almost impossible for him to pursue infrastructure or any of the other things he campaigned on. They are living rent-free in his head and rarely leave their apartments. The same goes for his supporters. So have some fun. Invite friends over. Tweet your pronouns, thank your local graduate student or journo union, bathe in avocado liqueur, or whatever it is that people slightly to the left of Joe Lieberman are popularly supposed to do in the right-wing imagination. It doesn't matter what the lumpenproletariat think. Just keep dancing on your own.

Liberals will be glad they did six months from now, when they find themselves in the exact same position they did four years ago: trying to prevent the guy who once got paid millions of dollars to pretend to fire Gary Busey on television from being duly elected president of the United States. They thought it would be easy in 2016. They should know better now.

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