Inasmuch as election cycles ever really end in the United States, the 2018 midterm election cycle has already begun. More accurately, it began at the exact moment Donald Trump won the presidency, but for all practical purposes, Democrats really started ramping up their efforts to win back Congress on May 9th--the day Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Even though months of investigations had by that point found no evidence whatsoever (a fact Democrats briefed on those investigations have had to grudgingly admit), Comey's firing was the turning point at which the Russia probe became for the Democratic Party this generation's Watergate.
They referred to it as Trump's "Tuesday Night Massacre," a reference to President Nixon's Saturday night firing of investigators looking into the Watergate break-in, and, more pointedly, they began to shift the aim of "Russiagate" away from finding evidence of collusion to finding evidence of obstruction of justice.
With the cliched mantra "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up" serving as a battle cry, this abrupt shift was both a tacit admission that no evidence of collusion actually exists and a golden opportunity to keep a cloud of suspicion on the Trump Administration for as long as possible.
Such suspicion is necessary, not only to keep Trump's priorities on something other than undoing the last vestiges of President Obama's legacy (Obamacare chief among them), but also to unite a liberal base that has been fractured and devastated since well before Trump's stunning win.
Since the Democrats' last great triumph--Barack Obama's election in 2008--the Party has lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House in successive election cycles along with hundreds of state legislative seats and governorships. All told, Democrats have lost 1,042 state and federal offices since Obama's election.
The supposedly permanent rise of far-left liberalism that Obama had ushered in was in fact disastrous for nearly every Democrat not named Obama. His immense personal charisma offset his immensely unpopular agenda, and because of that agenda Democrats have been consistently losing elections at every level of government ever since.
That is, they think, until now. Their policies are as unpopular as ever, but in Trump, they believe they have a rallying point for the so-called blue dog Democrats who think the Party has moved too far to the left and the far-left activists still angry that Bernie Sanders wasn't the nominee.
Their opposition to Trump's policies, though, aren't unifying enough. Sure, nearly every liberal opposes his so-called "travel ban," Obamacare repeal, and tax and regulatory reform, but the terrifying thought for Democrats is that on these issues, the majority (or at least a plurality) of the country is on Trump's side.
If Obama's personal popularity combined with the toxicity of his policies was something of a paradox, Trump represents its mirror image: His personal approval ratings aren't stellar, but his policies (when they aren't identified as specifically his policies) are relatively well-liked.
Since Democrats can't win on any other issue, Trump himself is their issue. The tantalizing possibility of Trump leaving Washington on a helicopter a la Richard Nixon or, better yet, in handcuffs is simply to tempting for the left not to obsess over.
And obsess they have. Neither they nor their allies in the national media seem capable of covering or even noticing anything else. Need proof? Bill Cosby, one of the most famous men on the planet, is on trial for drugging and raping a woman and it barely made a dent in the near-constant hyping of Comey's testimony last week.
Suffice it to say that if you're a D-List celebrity, now is the time to get arrested for drunk driving. Heck, even the nation's D-List celebrities are ditching the Xanax and hookers for severed Trump heads! So intense is the hate for Trump and the desire to see him impeached (if not arrested) that it seems that no one on the left is capable right now of focusing on anything else.
So much the better, because if they dare try to focus on anything else, they risk their younger liberal base yawning and sitting out the midterms and older moderates continuing their decades-long transition into Republicans.
Impeachment, they have clearly decided, is the only issue that both electrifies their base and keeps the rest of the country questioning whether there might actually be something to this whole collusion thing after all. The longer the media can keep the cloud of suspicion over the Trump Administration, the longer the Democrats don't have to come to grips with the harsh reality that they simply don't have anything else on which to run in 2018.