Democrats are going to blow this again, aren’t they?

An item in this morning’s POLITICO Playbook caught our attention…and raised our ire. It appears that at least some Trump insiders will defy subpoenas issued by the House committee probing the events culminating in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Democrats are within their legal rights to refer the holdouts to the DOJ for criminal contempt; the whole point of a subpoena is that you can’t ignore it.

But according to POLITICO (emphasis ours), “Democrats are hoping that the threat of contempt may force some to cooperate. It’s a stain on anyone’s record, they argue, and in the past, the threat alone has made some people play ball.”

The threat alone? A stain? Are Democrats that out of touch with the political and cultural dynamics in this country? Have they forgotten recent history?

Consider: way back in 2019 – you know, a pandemic ago – Congressional Democrats intent on impeaching then president Donald Trump needed an insider to turn on him.

Yes, a transcript of a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was as clear as day. Trump implicitly linked American aid to Ukraine with Zelensky’s willingness to dig up dirt on the Bidens.

And yes, a cast of Trump administration officials – including Russia experts Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill – provided compelling testimony that demonstrated Trump’s tendency to prioritize his own political well-being over national security concerns. Hell, Ambassador Gordon Sondland – a major Trump donor tasked with political errands all over Europe – confirmed that Trump wanted to arrange a quid pro quo with Zelensky.

In short, this should have been an open and shut case…at least, if it was tried in a regular courtroom. But an impeachment trial is a political affair, and any Republican not named Mitt Romney needed cover from a dyed-in-the-wool GOP stalwart who was willing to testify against Trump. An endless cascade of obscure dominos could fall with no effect. But if marquee GOP names like John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney – both one-time high-ranking members of the Trump administration – provided damning testimony, that might have tilted GOP sentiments against the man who highjacked their party in 2016.

But Democrats dithered, failed to compel either Bolton or Mulvaney to testify, and allowed Trump to remain president long enough to exacerbate a pandemic and attempt a coup.

We could tell a similar story about the investigation into Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation. Trump White House Counsel Don McGhan might have provided damning evidence about his boss, but he outmaneuvered Congressional Democrats and successful resisted providing testimony until it was too late.

And now, having apparently learned nothing, “Democrats are hoping that the threat of contempt may force some to cooperate. It’s a stain on anyone’s record, they argue.”

Are Democrats really still appealing to rules of honor? To these folks – like Steve Bannon? They don’t think his record is already stained – by allegedly defrauding MAGA donors, for example, or proudly declaring of Trump’s 2016 campaign “we’re the platform for the alt right,”?

One of Trump’s most salient attributes – one that explains his staying power – is an utter lack of shame. He and his enablers are impervious to scandal because they seemingly don’t experience the pangs of guilt that cause most of us to self-regulate our worst instincts (or resign in disgrace). This isn’t a novel insight, and yet, Democrats have not adjusted their own playbook. Instead, they continue to allow the MAGA elite to gum up the works by filing an endless stream of dubious lawsuits to block subpoenas.

What’s the solution?

For starters, abandon the hope that a threat of contempt will spur Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, or Kash Patel to testify about the events leading up the January riot. Pressure the DOJ to put them in jail. God knows Americans are imprisoned every day for far less.

Better yet, show the country why a Trump-free Washington makes us stronger. Accomplish this by unifying as a party to pass the infrastructure bill and a version of the reconciliation package that bolsters the social safety net and improves America’s schools, healthcare, and climate change resiliency.

In other words, use the full force of the law to hold Trump and his enablers accountable, but also work to address the policy failures that allowed him to come to power in the first place.