Impeachment. As we live history-future, our foothold on history-past can be unsteady. In the firehose of greater outrage, greater stakes, greater effects, and lessened slack on the binding ties of the Union, we live in interesting times. Impeachment proceedings for a president have never been successful. Though in contemporary politics there is always a faction demanding such, the tempo and scale of the cry makes it unusual. According to a recent CNN poll, 43% of Americans say President Trump should be impeached. For those of you following along on this Nixon speedrun, the same percentage of Americans wanted President Nixon axed in March, 1974.
And that’s just the thing.
In our collective mind, to impeach a President is to give them (him, thus far, unfortunately) the boot. In actuality, it is merely a vote in the House to put the President on trial. It’s high stakes bureaucracy. A bunch of elected representatives agreeing to think about maybe, possibly…asking the Senate what they think. To impeach a president is to agree to put them on trial. Speaker Pelosi’s cagey responses on the subject are smart. To impeach Trump only to have the Senate fail to convict him would decimate any hope of actual removal. While I absolutely support the substance of Rep. Tlaib’s “impeach the motherfucker”, I believe she jumps the gun. Impeachment without removal is a failure of Democratic leadership; allowing Trump to complete his term would signal a failure of the American Experiment.
It would be easy to categorize me and the Pelosi Camp Democrats I support as centrist-appeasers. I am not anti-impeachment. I am anti-impeachment without conviction. Frankly, I’m not sure there would be a worse outcome for the Democrats, or for the nation. Destructive still would be to let the President complete his term, for fear of destabilizing the country. From his incredibly corrupt cabinet, to his entirely political deployment of the military to the southern border, his xenophobic and racist actions and statements, to the fact that the man is practically a Russian nesting doll himself, with egregious campaign-finance violations for a bitter, bitter dessert. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is intentionally broad. I believe that in the end it has to come down to character: do we want a womanizing, racist criminal idiot to steer our ship, and represent us to the world? This is past the point of partisan concerns.
I don’t think that Speaker Pelosi will let impeachment gain any steam unless [Senate Minority Leader] Schumer has his Democrats in a row, and has done some furious horse-trading with the Republicans. What worries me is the prospect of inaction. A successful conviction of the President would require twenty Republican senators to break ranks, or the swayed mind of Speaker McConnell. President Trump is not a conservative. President Trump is a buzzword machine. Removal is the best hope for the Republican party. Might Republicans lose power for a while? Absolutely. But there would be a Republican party to reanimate, eventually. At the current trajectory, President Trump will become a lead balloon for the party exactly fifteen seconds before his successor take office. When do Republicans take power again, assuming that successor is a Democrat? 2040? President Trump’s base and the Republican base are not equal. If a large scale revolt against Speaker McConnell is unlikely (hint: it is), Mitch must walk through that fire, and permit his senators to support removal.
There is a reason why the United States is a representative democracy, and not a direct democracy. “Impeachment now!” is liberating. With removal synonymous, it is absolutely the outcome many of us desire. A desire to build bridges instead of walls, and come together as an America for all Americans, as an America for all the world. But impeachment tomorrow would not achieve this. In a discussion of this president and this era, it’s difficult to end on a high note. An impeachment misfire things make things far, far worse. Removal will be hard, politically fraught, and likely dangerous in a mortal sense. It has to happen. If not, we will have proved the United States infertile, and uncaring of its own. The experiment will be dead.