Well, a growing number of Democrats, and at least one Republican (Rep. Justin Amash, R- MI) say it doesn’t matter whether impeaching President Trump is a good or bad thing to do with an election only eighteen months away. It is, they say, the right thing to do. The new political bell ringer and sage from the socialist left, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) says her fellow Democrats shouldn’t worry about the election. They should worry about what Trump is doing to the country, rather than what impeachment will do to their re-election chances. From a very narrow point of view, however, many like what Trump is doing to the country. And therein lies the dilemma for the Democrats. To many people, the country is looking better than it has looked in a very long time.
So, the country is about to be tested as it faces an age-old moral dilemma. Will voters turn thumbs down on a President who has committed impeachable offenses if those same Americans feel more economically secure than they did before Trump ascended to the Presidency? We don’t know the answer to that question. No one else does either.
The Republicans are highly disciplined as they prepare for the eighteen-month slog to the 2020 election. They have become the Party of Trump. Forget the deficit, forget the debt, forget free trade, even forget our allies. They will deepfreeze old, rock-solid Republican principles, and sink or swim with the President. The country is humming along and they’ll stick with Trump no matter what.
The Democrats, on the other hand, are less disciplined. While they have real issues with which to wage a campaign for the 2020 election, many view an all-out effort to impeach the President as their best shot at ending the Trump Presidency. “Get Trump” is becoming the watchword of the Party. It is a huge gamble. We also suspect it will be a losing gamble.
Trump is impeachable, (although, most assuredly not convictable in the Senate). That is, he has committed offenses that mirror the very offenses used to justify the impeachment of Presidents Nixon and Clinton. He instructed underlings to engage in obstructive behavior. Impeachment, however, isn’t a criminal procedure. It is a political procedure, and therefore, it is fraught with political uncertainties and political pitfalls.
Readers have opined in their comments and in emails to this essayist that impeaching President Trump in the House of Representatives is imperative, even if the odds of prevailing in the Senate are poor. We disagree.
A failed impeachment. That is, an impeachment that fails to win a conviction in the Senate is, in our judgment, almost certain to result in a resounding Trump victory in 2020. The odds are very high that a botched impeachment will engender enormous sympathy for the President.
Here’s why. Even though Trump has behaved in a way that really does fit the definition of obstruction, many of the voting public will see his behavior as having resulted from very extenuating circumstances. He has been, many will feel, the victim of a concerted, heavy-handed effort to bring him down with false claims of conspiring with the Russians. He was, day in and day out from the moment he took the oath of office called a traitor, a Manchurian candidate, a pawn of the Russians and Putin’s man in the White House. Prone to temper tantrums, the President fumed and lashed out and in fits of anger crossed the line, and meandered into the obstruction thicket. Tens of millions of voters will cut him slack over that. They will wonder if there was, in fact, a so-called deep-state effort to reverse the results of the last election. They will sympathize with him and they will vote for him.
Almost every political utterance today is calculated and orchestrated. The Democrats, seeing the entire so-called Russian conspiracy scandal evaporate before their eyes, have quickly segued and down-clutched into an obstruction frenzy. They are committed to keeping an investigation strategy going right up to the 2020 election. We will hear and see a chorus of “Obstruction” and “Cover-up” filling the air waves and commanding barrels of printer’s ink right up to the election.
The Republicans will counter with cries of their own. “Deep State…Corrupt Accusers…$35 Million Wasted Dollars…Attempted Coup…Illegal Attempt to Bring Down the President…Phony Hillary-funded Dossier…Illegal FISA Warrants,” etc. etc. Hang on to your hats folks, it’s going to get worse.
But here’s the thing. Trump is an unusually vulnerable candidate for re-election. Even with a very strong economy, his standing with the public is poor. A review of the leading tracking polls this past week show that a firm majority of Americans do not approve of the job he is doing. He is not a popular President with a majority of Americans. Millions revile him. We have an economic recovery that, after ten continuous years of expansion, is growing long in the tooth. He is, contrary to what he tells us, neither stable nor a genius. His tariffs are foolish and fraught with danger. His use of emergency powers in the absence of emergencies is abusive of our system of government and our separation of powers.
A Democratic campaign focused on real issues could unseat this President. A Democratic campaign focused on impeaching him will not. Cries for impeachment will drown out cries for rebuilding our infrastructure, reforming our immigration laws, and seriously addressing health care. If the Democrats keep huffing and puffing about impeachment they will huff and puff headwinds for themselves and tailwinds for the President.