In comparison, Democrats have been much more cautious, far more wedded to the responsive, passive approach to public opinion. That’s one way to understand Clintonism — as a form of Reaganism-lite, tailor-made to appeal to where the Democrats found public opinion in 1992, after three terms of GOP presidents. Even Barack Obama’s presidency can be seen this way. It deployed much loftier rhetoric than Bill Clinton did in the ’90s or Hillary Clinton would in 2016. But that rhetoric — with its talk of contentless change and vague focus on the person of Obama himself — didn’t do much to create a public to support an ambitious left-of-center policy agenda.
Today, the Democrats are divided, with the left wing of the party, especially the presidential campaigns of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), eager to do the work of creating such a public, but much of the institutional party, along with Pelosi and the front-running campaign of Joe Biden, largely uninterested and sometimes downright resistant. (Strangely, Trump is such a forceful and polarizing figure that he appears to have done far more than the Democratic Party itself in creating a public on the left — with, for example, rising support for immigration most likely a function of a reaction of Trump’s cruelty and bigotry on the issue.)
And that brings us back to impeachment.