Poised to pass two articles of impeachment in the full House this week, Democrats have remained extraordinarily united throughout the process while nearly half the country stands in favor of taking the drastic action of removing Donald Trump from office. Yet press coverage in recent days has suggested (surprise!) that Democrats are in a state of disarray, a favorite fallback position for much of the Beltway media, where Democrats are constantly portrayed as scrambling and being outsmarted by Trump and the GOP. In the process of focusing on Democrats and the alleged struggles impeachment presents, news outlets continue to eliminate Republicans from the entire process. The GOP, apparently, faces no impeachment fallout, only Democrats.
Stressing “the quiet hand-wringing” that now consumes Democrats, The Washington Post last week insisted the party was bracing for Democratic defections when the articles of impeachment are soon voted on by the full House. Democrats are bracing? Really? From a political perspective, I'd suggest that if 10 or 20% of the Democratic caucus in the House balked on impeachment and voted no, that would represent a stinging defeat for party leadership. Ten or 20% of the 233-member caucus today would mean 20-40 Democratic no's. But how many Democrats are poised to vote no on Trump impeachment? According to the Post, possibly six members will vote no, or roughly 3% of the Democratic caucus. Sorry, but that just doesn't qualify as big news.
Yet the press seems obsessed with the idea of a sizable impeachment fracture among Democrats. Previously, when 231 out of 233 Democrats voted in favor of starting an impeachment procedure, one of the two Democrats voting no turned into a media darling overnight. Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey has been showered with media attention for months now (see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) as the press doggedly tracks down one of only two Democrats not currently onboard with impeaching Trump. But again, that's not news and it certainly doesn't suggest Democrats are in disarray regarding Trump.
The truth is, Democrats remain extraordinarily unified on the question of impeachment—more united, in fact, than any other party overseeing such a inquiry. Back in 1998 when Republicans in the House impeached Bill Clinton, they offered up four articles of impeachment. In the vote on the first article, which accused Clinton of lying under oath while being interviewed by independent prosecutor Ken Starr, five Republicans voted no. On the second article, 12 Republicans voted no. On the third article, 28 voted no. And on the fourth article, nearly one-third of the Republican caucus joined with Democrats and voted no.
Can you imagine what the Beltway media meltdown would look like today if one-third of House Democrats decided to vote against one of pending articles of impeachment that Trump now faces?