There will be lots of comparisons with the 1990s as the House moves toward impeachment. Yet, the 1790s might be the more apt comparison. Back then, at the outset of the republic, each nascent political party was consumed with the idea that the other was a tool of a foreign power, either France or Britain, and believed that the other was a fundamental threat to American democracy. It made for particularly vitriolic politics.
Today, the Democrats still have not gotten beyond the idea that Trump is somehow a tool of Russia, while Republicans point to Democratic coordination with shadowy foreign forces to get the Russia investigation rolling. Books fly off the shelves about Trump being an alleged fascist, and Republicans are gripped by a Flight 93 mentality that fears if they lose a presidential election, they will never win another one again.
The Russian story contributed to and fed off this feverish atmosphere. For the longest time, it offered Democrats the hope of deliverance from a president whose election they never truly accepted. When Robert Mueller didn’t have the goods, House Democrats were at sea for a while, until Trump’s call and the whistleblower complaint brought impeachment deliciously back into play.