And yet there isn't a shred of evidence to support it. Usually when we hear that a minimum wage is bad for low-income workers or tax cuts for billionaires benefit the poor, or any such apparently upside-down fantasy, we are at least given semi-plausible theories for how those lies could be truths.
In this case, all we've been offered is the idea that a threat of impeachment will cause Republicans to vote in defense of a party they otherwise wouldn't bother voting for. But I've not seen a single poll to suggest that's true, much less that it could be true to an extent that would outweigh the benefits to Democrats of promoting impeachment.
Don't get me wrong. I consider it inexcusable on the part of either party to be placing electoral concerns ahead of protecting our democracy from a President who routinely violates the law. But the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that making the coming congressional elections a referendum on impeachment of Bush and Cheney would result in landslides for Democrats and Independents.
A recent poll by Zogby International asked people what would restore their trust in government. Their number one response was "Personnel changes / impeachment proceedings."
A Zogby poll conducted in January (that is, three or four scandals ago) in Pennsylvania (the only place this has been done) asked whether voters would prefer pro-impeachment candidates. Among Democrats 84.9% said yes. Among Independents, 49.3% said yes, versus 40.6% who said no. Among Republicans, 90.4% said no. Overall, impeachment support has a majority. And it's a passionate majority: almost all of the Democrats and Independents who supported pro-impeachment candidates said they were not just "likely" but "very likely" to prefer such candidates.
Support for impeachment and removal from office is lower (33% according to the Washington Post), though that's significantly higher than it ever was for Clinton.
But for impeachment to have anything close to majority support despite opposition by both political parties and almost no positive coverage in the media is remarkable. Among Democrats, impeachment tends to have 80 to 90 percent support. Among Independents, it tends to be supported by a majority. And all of these numbers are trending upward, with six months remaining before the elections.
An off-year election is usually won by turnout. If more Democrats are inspired to turn out and to work to turn their neighbors out, it doesn't matter what Independents or Republicans think. If Independents who support a Democrat turn out in higher numbers as well, it really doesn't matter what Republicans think. The polls on support for the President and support for impeachment suggest that if the elections are about Bush and Cheney and impeachment, Republicans will lose.
Anecdotal evidence that can help us gauge the degree of passion behind people's support for impeachment suggests the same. An unfunded, un authorized, grassroots movement has begun passing pro-impeachment resolutions at Democratic Party conventions, and in town and city governments, as well as forcing the introduction of such resolutions in state legislatures. Events and organizations focused on the war and other issues have been compelled to promote impeachment. And I have never seen any other word capable of generating standing ovations in rooms around the country the way "impeachment" does today.
Very little will inspire voters to turn out and vote against a Republican as well as advocacy for impeachment. Any candidate who backs impeachment is unlikely to lose a lot of votes to a third-party candidate from the left. A political action committee aimed at backing pro-impeachment candidates has been flooded with money: www.impeachpac.org , and pro-impeachment candidates are running ads together to boost their campaigns, including primary campaigns that are threatening Vichy-Democrat incumbents: www.impeachteam.com .
When something is said over and over and over again, even if it's "Up is down," people will tend to believe it. If it's denounced as nonsense, however, and truth is spoken plainly and fearlessly, the power of that can be overwhelming. Can you imagine the pressure Republicans in moderate districts would feel if every Democrats in Congress now backed impeachment? Forget the elections. We'd get to impeachment before November.
Democrats in Congress are not promoting impeachment, secretly or otherwise, but a minority of them (37 Members) are promoting a call for an investigation of possible crimes.