The birth of the Tea Party in 2009 gave rise to “scam PACs,” a small army of politically themed organizations designed to con frustrated voters.
Grifters posing as patriots crawled from the woodwork during the Tea Party’s infancy to launch political action committees with cute, ultra-American-sounding names. These groups promise the world, and all they ask for in return is a measly $5 donation.
"Donate here before Obama takes your guns!"
"Donate here to help us impeach Obama!"
"Donate here for a congressional bid that is not being seriously considered!"
It wasn’t long before the Tea Party splintered into smaller, poorly defined factions, as the movement imploded under the weight of con artists, hangers-on, and the allure of populism — but the scams remained.
For years, the problem seemed like it was unique to the right. But now that Donald Trump is president, it appears some Democrats want a piece of the scam action.
Since the 2016 election, Democratic lawmakers have promised constituents that they will do whatever is necessary to bring down Trump. People like Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Brad Sherman, D-Calif., often discuss impeachment. Waters brings it up often, repeatedly promising Democratic voters that her party is this close to ousting the president.
In November of last year, Reps. Al Green, D-Texas; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; and Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., even introduced five articles of impeachment against the president.
Never mind that there was exactly zero chance that the vote would pass, since Republicans control the House and the Senate. This is resistance! Or is it?
As Green, Cohen, Fudge, and company touted their 100 percent dead-end impeachment strategy, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising email.
"According to a recent poll, nearly 50 percent of Americans already support impeaching President Trump," the email read. "They have plenty of reasons — whether it's his firing of the FBI Director and acting Attorney General, his attacks on the courts, or Trump's blatant corruption and conflicts of interest."
It added, "That's why we're doing everything we can to fight back, making sure Democrats win in legislative elections nationwide to create a firewall in the states against his devastating agenda."
The statement, of course, directed readers to the DLCC’s fundraising page.
This is a scam. There’s no difference between this DLCC fundraising gimmick and the many, many all-caps Patriot PACs promising to restore America to its former glory with just $5 donations.
The DLCC, Waters, Green, and the rest of them are smart enough to know the impeachment talk is a pipe dream. They’re savvy enough to know articles of impeachment will not be brought against the president so long as the GOP controls both chambers. They are also smart enough to know that, unless something dramatic changes, they don't have legal grounds to impeach the president. They know that trying to have him removed now is a dead end.
But that reality hasn’t stopped them from pretending like it’s a real thing that could happen very soon. That reality hasn't stopped them from filling their constituents' heads with false hope. That reality didn’t stop the DLCC from trying to score a buck off it. That reality hasn’t even slowed their on-air discussions about invoking the 25th amendment against Trump to have him declared mentally incompetent and removed from office.
The November impeachment stunt wasn't a one-off. They've been talking this stuff up as recently as this week!
For now, the problem of political opportunists exploiting frustrated voters with empty promises doesn’t appear to be as bad on the Left as it is on the Right (embarrassingly enough, the GOP also fundraised off articles of impeachment). At this pace, though, and with actual members of Congress continuing to promise the undeliverable, it seems like it's only a matter of time before both sides of the aisle are overrun completely with smooth-talking con artists.