A majority of Americans think that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president. Around here, that number is more likely 100 percent.
People who are unfit to hold office shouldn’t hold office. Yet anyone who thinks Donald Trump is just going to declare he’s sick of it all and resign is dreaming. He never dropped out of the presidential race when everyone and his mother thought he would, so why would Trump leave office voluntarily? Unless he understands that if he doesn’t leave, he will be forcibly removed.
Yet one remedy that could do that, impeachment, is rarely mentioned. That could change after Congressman Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, files a privileged resolution this week that will compel a vote on whether Trump should be impeached. In doing so, he is essentially acting as a lone wolf, having not consulted Democratic leadership beforehand. Previous calls for impeachment were
“met by rebukes from Democratic leaders in the House, who are concerned about a possible voter backlash and overplaying their hand too early, ahead of the conclusion of an investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.”
Elsewhere, the idea of even attempting to impeach Trump is treated as a terrible folly. Richard Cohen, calling those who take the remedy seriously “impeachment-crazed Trump critics,” claims Democrats shouldn’t even consider it because, um, Trump’s supporters are crazies who believe illegal immigrants gave Hillary Clinton the popular vote, and we don’t want to upset the crazies now, do we?
It’s true that if a vote were held on Al Green’s resolution right now, it would probably fail, even with the backing of every Congressional Democrat. That doesn’t mean impeachment isn’t worth pursuing. If we want impeachment to succeed, though, we need to put the burden on Republicans.
Somehow, Congressional Republicans have managed to avoid having to assert whether they would vote to impeach or convict Trump. You have statements by those such as Jeff Flake, who claim that his party should push back against Trump more, but who have not called for impeachment, and other statements that Republicans are oh so very troubled—so very privately troubled—by Trump’s words and actions, but nothing more.
If past performance is any indicator, the furor over Trump’s volte-face on Charlottesville will fade. This is the man, after all, who as a candidate weathered the release of the vile “Access Hollywood” tapes and still became President. Sure, he has done some damage to his standing. But the Oval Office is his — emboldening race hate is not, in and of itself, a high crime or misdemeanor — and, so long as it remains that way, his GOP colleagues are unlikely to escalate their attacks. Trump is the one with the power to sign their legislative dreams into reality, and there is still no indication they are willing to sacrifice or endanger that prospect over any moral objection to his behavior.
The actual work of impeachment is treated as a Democratic Party thing. Because of this, if a vote were held, there is no reason to think Republicans would not form a phalanx behind their leader (while being oh so troubled, of course) and vote against. Because Mueller’s investigation isn’t done, so they have to wait for that. And once it’s done, they have to find out if evidence shows a 99 percent likelihood of Trump being guilty. Anything less wouldn’t be enough evidence, and would give those liberals a victory besides.
This would be true even if Democrats win a majority of both chambers in 2018. Unless they get two-thirds of Senate seats, they would not have the votes alone to convict.
We don’t need to wait until Mueller’s investigation is done to make the case for Trump’s impeachment. For one thing, to have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a president does not need to have committed a crime.
Republicans should not be allowed to perpetually slide by while the work of fighting for our country rests on Democrats’ shoulders. They should be constantly pushed to vote for impeaching or removing Donald Trump from office. They should be pressed to find their souls, which probably fell behind the sofa and have been gathering dust the past several years. They should constantly receive the message that some things are bigger than political parties and scoring points, and even power.
Predictably, if pushed in this way, their first claim would be that “their voters wouldn’t want Trump impeached.” Well why is that? Do they actually think Trump is doing a good job, or do they not know what kind of job he’s really doing, and what kind of danger this country is in? Maybe they need to be told. Maybe if we scratched the surface, we’d find lots of “their voters” actually think Trump isn’t so great.
We’ve seen Republicans change their attitudes with pressure from their constituents. Maybe not all Republicans, but enough. We need to work to get them to see that impeachment isn’t some “librul thing,” but a sensible solution to a problem that is growing worse over time. A patriotic solution. Otherwise, the imbalance in place, where Republicans act amoral with impunity while every move of responsible Democrats is scrutinized, will continue, and we’ll all brace ourselves for the next great disaster, and the next tragedy.
It would be great if it didn’t have to be us, if for once, Republican voters took it upon themselves to convince their representatives to consider impeachment or removal. But alas, it looks like we’ll have to be the grown-ups once again.