Bay Area Dems Weigh in on How California Will Lead the Way in a Post-Impeachment Era

Forget the prognostications. It’s anyone’s guess at this point how President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment will play out, or how it may shape next year’s circus-atmosphere national elections.

But one important dynamic has already emerged unmistakably: The impeachment proceedings unfolding in Washington are a largely Californian-driven undertaking, which is arguably why it has succeeded so far where other moves to hold “Teflon Don” accountable have fallen short.

In one recent poll, 70 percent of those surveyed across the country found it “wrong” that the president hijacked US aid to our key ally Ukraine to serve his personal interests. In the same poll, a majority (51 percent) favored removal from office. Polls will bounce around, and the right-wing media machine will spin, but it’s unlikely any of that can stop Trump from being impeached in the House and landing in a Senate impeachment trial, at the very least. As the headline on a recent column by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank put it, “Republicans Have a New Enemy: Truth Itself.”

“These facts are going to stand the test of time,” Eric Swalwell, the East Bay Congressman who sits on both the House Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee, recently told this news organization. “It’s just a matter of, at this moment, will they stand the test of courage for Republicans?”

California has played a big role in the impeachment proceedings, and the Golden State will also be called upon to lead the way in the post-impeachment era, whatever that ends up looking like. “Nothing defines this presidency better than Mr. Trump’s war with California,” says Clay Risen, deputy editor of the New York Times op-ed page and author of the book The Crowded Hour, about Theodore Roosevelt. “California is arguably the most progressive state in America, and it’s also arguably the most powerful, so it was inevitable that the state would clash with such an extremely conservative White House.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, another Northern Californian, has consistently been underestimated, but she has proven a worthy foil to Trump. She enraged many by resisting an impeachment inquiry, but moved on her own schedule with impeccable timing, according to some fellow Democrats. “Her political acumen is like no other,” Central Coast Congressman Jimmy Panetta says by phone. “I really don’t think there could be another Democrat who could handle the extreme left in our party and also smack down Donald Trump as she’s been doing.”

The knife edge of the impeachment effort has been California Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, whose unflappability in the glare of the impeachment hearings has stood out all the more when juxtaposed with the sulky fury and bizarre pushing of debunked conspiracy theories by bizarro-world opposite, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, whose Central California district includes Fresno. Nunes went from widespread ridicule to accusations, just as the hearings were wrapping up, that he’s actually implicated in the Ukraine scandal himself.

Nunes, along with Kevin McCarthy the leaders of a shrinking-before-our-eyes, all-in-on-Trumpism California Republican delegation, both led the party strategy of turning the hearings into a sideshow—the weirder and crazier, apparently, the better. The strategy may have had short-term benefits, at least when it came to easily led media types eager to demonstrate that they themselves could be manipulated, but dangerous in that it left an opening for Schiff, by contrast, to come across as serious and trustworthy, willing to let the facts speak for themselves.

“I’m very pleased that the investigation into the Ukrainian phone call is under the authority of Chairman Schiff,” says Panetta, himself a former prosecutor. “I’ve had a lot of conversations about this with him. He looks at cases like a prosecutor. He makes sure we put all the evidence out there upon which the American people, and Congress, can make a decision.”

As for Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), this marks her third round of impeachment proceedings. In the early 1970s, she worked as a staffer for Congressman Don Edwards during Richard Nixon’s historic fall from grace.

When Bill Clinton’s life came under the microscope in 1998, she was serving her second term in the House of Representatives. But Trump’s impeachment hearings, Lofgren says, are fundamentally unique from the past two.

“The difference here is that President Trump has asserted the right to—on a blanket basis—reject all demands for documents or witnesses,” she tells San Jose Inside. “That didn’t happen in either the Nixon or Clinton matters. Further, President Trump has rejected all opportunities to defend himself, and the Republicans have chosen not to participate in good faith either. That also did not happen with Nixon or Clinton.”

In the current political climate, Lofgren adds, Republicans “seem to prefer complaining about the process instead of dealing with the facts before us.”

Beyond Impeachment

California has played an outsized role in counterbalancing Trumpism, and it will also play an outsized role in helping lead the way toward a new post-Trump world. To be clear, that will be hard—very hard. Trumpism played off of—and magnified—weaknesses of human character, the ease with which some are seduced by power, and the terrifying ease with which hate and recrimination can take over any conversation.

“People need to understand that yes, our democracy is based on our values, but it’s left up to people to implement those values,” Panetta says. “It’s left up to moral people, people who have the morality to push these values forward. … This is a democracy that’s about relationships and about trust, and we have to work on that.”

Swalwell believes Panetta will be a big part of that. “My respect for Jimmy is rooted in his service to the community as a trusted prosecutor, to the country as a soldier, and now to the Congress as an advocate for bipartisan collaboration,” Swalwell says. “I’ve known him as he’s worked in all three roles, and think very highly of him.”

Like the resistance thus far, the post-Trump recovery will have to start at a grassroots, interpersonal level, Panetta says. “Yes, it can be difficult with technology where people can sit at their desks and send out a social-media post and not see that reaction from another person that yes, you’re being offensive,” he says. “It takes actually getting out and looking people eye to eye and talking to them. I think there needs to be a little more humility in how we conduct ourselves, not just in Congress but in our society.”

The challenge is always to keep people interested and engaged between elections, not just every four years. Looking ahead to 2020, Swalwell sees a political earthquake. “There is going to be a reckoning at the ballot box regardless of what happens on impeachment,” he says, “and I think it will cascade after that.”

Staff writer Grace Hase also contributed to this report.

17 Comments

  1. Its been a while since the Metro has done a national politics piece, and I am happy to see it has learned nothing from 2016 when the former editor was an Russia, Russia, Russia, Cheeto-Drumpian NPC.

    Keep interviewing BA politicians on how Trump is playing in the electoral states that matter, which CA is not, and you will never figure out whats going on. The House and what it does is irrelevant, on impeachment, on the judiciary, on foreign policy. The only reason to hold the House is to NOT pass laws. They are plebs fruitlessly convincing themselves they are patricians. Their images and subsequent memes make for good GOP fund raising, like lumpenprol riots outside Trump rallies in inner cities.

    Unemployment just hit 3.5%, minority unemployment has never been lower, interest rates are heading down spurring more investment, and Black approval of Trump is 30%+.

    Your intersectional utopian future defined as CA Values is toast, you just need to get outside your bubble to see it.

  2. The end of this seems obvious to me. Democrats claim the House process was a constitutional imperative while the Senate acquittal was political and Republicans claim the Senate was clean and House impeachment was political.
    Trump will get the Micheal Corleone style Senate clearance (acquittal, exoneration). Even Blumenthal’s “high end” of 5–10 votes is not going get to votes needed (ideally of course Trump would want to win a majority of votes in the Senate for optics). I do not think this vote will decide Senate 2020 in CO, AL, ME, GA, AZ, NC, MI, IA, or anywhere else where a seat may be at play.

    With regards to 2020, it is not clear to that helping consolidate Trump’s base, his fundraising (granted he doesn’t need anymore money), while making Democrats look like they care more about Ukraine while Trump keep’s America first was the smart move politically.

    Overall, the recession will decide 2020 (though I think Biden is better than Warren et al in PA of the WI-MI-PA swing states).

    In my opinion (as anon commentator so take it with a boulder of salt) the best publicly available prediction for if there will be a recession is the NY Fed (https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/capital_markets/ycfaq.html?source=post_page—–e970750281a3———————-#/). Somewhere between 38% in August, 35% in Sept, 30% in October (roughly) is implied by the yield curve. That’s the best way to think about will we get four more years.

    Honestly, personally, right now, my hunch is that we will see a House that is D, Senate is that R, and Trump re-elected because the economy is not going to go into a recession. But we shall see.

  3. I see the world 180 degrees differently than the author, and could not disagree more.
    I also find it telling that the author has to insult people like myself because we see the world differently.
    Vote NO on Zoe, she has to go.

  4. > Trumpism played off of—and magnified—weaknesses of human character, the ease with which some are seduced by power, and the terrifying ease with which hate and recrimination can take over any conversation.

    Wait. Who is he talking about here?

    Who is he claiming has a “weakness of human character”?

    Who is he saying is “seduced by power”?

    And who has conversations taken over with “hate and recrimination”?

    My mother says my character is fine, I’m a tiny little inconsequential pissant with NO power, and progressives NEVER talk to me, so none of our conversations are ever taken over with “hate and recrimination”. In fact, my conversations with progressives are never even taken over with conversation.

    Steve Kittman may be the real “insurance policy” for Trump’s reelection. When regular Americans are exposed to the Kittman manifesto, they can only be overcome by a sense of pity and compassion for California’s plight. Trump is the only hope to end California’s suffering.

  5. this entire article is such a load I couldn’t even finish it. What delusion. The entire dim party has gone completely over the edge but I do agree with one thing….CA leads the way. The epicenter of dim progressive insanity. The dims will pay in 2020.

  6. > Bay Area Dems Weigh in on How California Will Lead the Way in a Post-Impeachment Era

    I think some things we can expect in the Post-Impeachment Era is a massive surge in Trump popularity and election victories.

    One of the consequences of the Trump Surge will be a spike in Lefties fleeing California and America, just is there is expected to be a spike in Lefties fleeing UK after the Boris Johnson landslide.

    So, the question of interest that Steve Kittman might want to address is: Where will the Lefties flee TO? What will be the most popular destinations for Lefist “exiteers”?

    Venezuela? Cuba? Argentina? Greece? North Korea? Ukraine? France?

    And, what can Americans of goodwill do to assist our suffering, former co-residents to facilitate their expatriation and make their exit from America as smooth, efficient, and trauma-free as possible?

  7. President Trump wil win re-election in the largest “land-slide” in American political history.
    David S. Wall

      • I think the regressives have all flocked over to this site…

        https://sanjosespotlight.com/

        lots of aol-style Me,too! comments, typical leftist group think. Metro seems dead to me as most people who comment here anymore are in opposition to its blatant propaganda. These regressives get too easily triggered reading Metro comments these days, so opposing views are not reaching them anymore.

        • > so opposing views are not reaching them anymore.

          It’s the way they live their lives.

          “Opposing views” trigger them.

          Living in the herd provides validation which helps their self-esteem.

  8. Is it any wonder the rest of the country hates California? I agree with RPS: What a delusion. I’d add: what condescension, what a sense of superiority from these Dems. Having watched a lot of the hearings and followed news from many sources, all I can say is that this article is a complete work of fiction. All I can do now is work to crush the Dems in 2020 and put them in the political wilderness for a very long time.

    • It’s taken decades of dismissiveness and condescension by liberals but they’ve now got us, tens of millions of us, to the point where we are just telling them, “screw you”.

      • > It’s taken decades of dismissiveness and condescension by liberals but they’ve now got us, tens of millions of us, to the point where we are just telling them, “screw you”.

        I’m feeling superior to Democrats.

        It’s iike I’ve got a bigger brain and an opposable thumb or something.

        Is there something wrong with me?

  9. Glad to see California standing up to the abuses of power that the framers were warning against in their founding documents. Pelosi waited until the misbehavior, the illegal behavior, was too much to bare, and so finally had to use Congress’ responsibility as a check and balance to the executive branch.

    Proud to be from California. And we’re not going anywhere.

    • > Pelosi waited until the misbehavior, the illegal behavior, was too much to bare

      1. What was the “illegal behavior”?

      2. What was the impeachable illegal behavior?

      It all seems like “vaporware”.

    • > And we’re not going anywhere.

      Why not?

      Why would you choose to live in a country founded by white male slave owners, who wrote a “constitution” that allowed for slavery, and has, after 240 years, elected a “racist” and an “imposter” to its leader?

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