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Politically Uncorrected: Should we or shouldn’t we?

Should we or shouldn’t we?

The angst in Washington over impeaching President Trump is producing a “Hamlet on the Potomac” moment that even Shakespeare might appreciate. Democrats want to do it, but most Republicans don’t, and voters overall while divided along party lines are mostly opposed. (65% opposed)

Speaker Pelosi, while fully occupied by her daily hand to hand combat with the president, thinks impeachment is premature. Translation: Democrats will lose politically more than they gain if they impeach Trump. She is almost certainly correct about that.  There is zero chance that a GOP controlled Senate responsible to try Trump if the House impeaches would ever vote to convict and thus remove him from office.

While articles of impeachment would deeply embarrass Trump and likely reveal much that would wound him, the cost benefit ratio is anything but clear. Independents, who well may determine the 2020 election, are lukewarm at best for impeaching. In addition, Trump’s hard-core constituency of a third or more of the electorate are more likely to be galvanized by impeachment then abandon Trump.

Against this background the arguments for and against impeachment have become almost ubiquitous in the national press – with Democratic partisans mostly arguing that Trump is unfit for office, has broken the law, and perhaps  dangerous, justifying his removal. Republicans contrariwise argue as strenuously that Trump has been a successful president, and the architect of a booming economy that has produced both peace and prosperity.

What’s a bitterly divided country, already deafened by the toxic rhetorical drumbeat of the approaching 2020 presidential election to do?

Do we really need or want another divisive partisan battle about who should be president when we are only some 17 months from holding the election that will determine that question? Isn’t the ballot box the best way decisions of this magnitude are made in a democracy?

Unfortunately, too, often these days we do things because we can rather than because they are good for the country.

Republicans have been guilty of this recently with their failure to hold Supreme Court nomination hearings during Obama’s final year as well as their machinations to usurp a revered Senate institution like the filibuster to naked partisan ends.

Democrats, however, when in power, have not behaved better. They ran rough shod over Republican minorities through most of the New Deal period and more recently Obama undermined congressional majorities by greatly overusing executive orders. He used 276 of them between 2009 and 2017. Neither party is a paragon of political virtue.

But now Democrats can mend their ways (as well as provide an exemplar to Republicans) by choosing not to impeach just because they can do it. Moreover, there is a larger point here – one which Americans of both parties have been slow to recognize.  Impeachment for presidents doesn’t work – it never has.

The authors of our constitution, gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, carefully considered the “Articles” that would delineate impeachment, Article 1, Section 3 and Article 2, Section 4. James Madison’s notes reveal the delegates were repeatedly frustrated about the process, tabling their deliberation multiple times before coming up with the imperfect solution we have today: impeachment in the House, followed by a trial in the Senate.

Had they set out to consciously produce a more convoluted politicized process they could not have done better than what they actually did. Consequently, impeachment of the president has only been used twice in the nation’s history (there have also been 15 federal judges impeached, one U.S. Senator and one cabinet officer.”

One of the two presidents impeached was post-Civil War President Andrew Johnson, and the other was Bill Clinton in 1998. Neither was convicted and removed from office, and both impeachment processes were fetid with naked political motivations.

More important, perhaps, both failed to remove a president. Johnson’s trial led to allegations that several senators had been bribed by prosecutors while Johnson himself filled out his term and was later elected to the U.S Senate. Clinton was acquitted outright in 1998 on the charges adopted by the House while the trial itself produced such a sharp backlash from voters that Clinton’s job performance rose and his party actually picked up five House seats in the 1998 midterm elections.

There well may be a better way to remove a president but without doubt there is no worse way than impeachment as it has been practiced.

The recent 25th amendment has been proposed as a way to handle presidential disability. But most scholars doubt it is practical beyond very narrow circumstances.

So, after some 230 years of national history we have had just one way that actually removes a president or keeps one—and that is our quadrennial presidential election. The next one is Tuesday, November 3rd. It’s not only a better solution than impeachment-it’s one that works.

11 Responses

  1. Politics is the art of the practical … and the venal. Republican Senators who risk voting to convict Trump risk having his billions used against them in the 2020 primary — and though Trump will probably lose the 2020 general election, he will win the 2020 GOP primary hands-down. Besides, all of the defects listed against Trump as President were known well before he ran, and the fervent Christian evangelicals who love this adulterer-cheater-bully forswore their religious principles because Trump could make the economy better. Americans elected this asshat freely and fairly. Absent new bad behavior, he ought not to be removed because that would set aside a democratic election.

    1. Denny Bonavita-

      Trump doesn’t have billions. 🙂

      His defects were not “well-known”. (They were known to some, but not the population at large, due to how carefully he guarded his brand and had people lie for him.) Some people genuinely believed that Trump was a successful businessman that knew stuff about the economy. (They NOW realized they were wrong, and he doesn’t know sh*t, nor understand who pays the cost of tariffs.)

  2. In their typically weak discussion about historical lack of impeachment removing a president, G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young COMPLETELY FAIL to mention Nixon.

    The impeachment case against Nixon was so strong that he resigned (and cut a pardon deal with Ford).


    There is MORE enough evidence to convict Trump of several crimes and abuses of office, in the public record alone, and his continual refusal to honor congressional subpoenas and document requests is in itself impeachable (and was one of the Articles of Impeachment against Nixon).

    Trump’s abuse of office is far worse than that of Nixon, and getting the witnesses and evidence in front of congress and the American people is essential.

    While Mitch McConnell cares nothing for the Constitution and rule of law, and may try to block an impeachment vote in the Senate, history will judge his callow behavior.

    If G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young REALLY feel that a presidential election is the best way to remove a president, then an impeachment INVESTIGATION, with testimony under oath, is best way to inform the voters, and also hold the President accountable to Congressional oversight.

    BTW, the Mueller report was unequivocal that Russia made great efforts to interfere in our elections, and continues to do so. For Trump to actively ignore and undermine this conclusion is utter negligence and also impeachable.

    1. Amen David! What kind of political scientists would think accepting a corrupted election (and obviously corrupted administration) is healthy for our country? I’m stunned that they would be apologists for CORRUPTION! C’mon Terry Madonna and Michael Young we expect more integrity and wisdom from you, and a much better ability to discern the seriousness of what has transpired since the 2016 Presidential Election.

      1. tom balya-

        I can’t figure out why Terry Madonna rates a column here. Does he have compromising pictures of the owners? 🙂 LOL

        1. It puzzles me how they could ignore the fact that the last election was corrupted , and that’s the only reason we have Trump. So for all their studying, the best they can come up with is, ” let’s trust the process that brought us Trump (who is doing everything possible to enlist Russian help again). sounds like they are on Trump’s payroll. LOL

    2. You’re not actually this stupid, right? You have to be trolling us at this point.

  3. The hypocrisy of the Republican Party Would be comical if it weren’t so sad. I’ve been a Republican my whole life but when Justin Amash becomes the only member thinking logically – it really illustrates the dumpster fire of our politics. The Democrats need to get their shit together because the only thing keeping the circus that is the GOP floating and the fringe base engaged is the impossibly stupid Progressive Left. Speaker Pelosi knows how to count, hopefully her pragmatism can keep it moving forward but if she pulls a Paul Ryan and doesn’t appropriately marginalize her problem members she’s destined for the same fate.

    Independents and non affiliated voters in states without open primaries need to switch parties and participate in the primary process. We have to start correcting back to center right and center left politics.

    1. I’m still trying to figure out the logic of Mitch McConnell blocking any action by the US Senate to secure the 2020 election from Russian interference. OK FINE if you want to protect your President, the guy who your wife works for Mitch…. But why won’t you take seriously the threat that Russia will do it again in 2020?

      1. Because Mitch took Russian money, too. Big time. He’s on the Traitor gravy-train.

  • Reader Poll: Should President Joe Biden Step Aside?

    • Yes. He should step aside because of his age, declining ability to do the job. (45%)
    • No. He should not step aside. (39%)
    • Yes. He should step aside because he can't beat Donald Trump. (15%)

    Total Voters: 231

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