“Impeachment” Not A Dirty Word for Dems
by Kevin Kelton
Rep. Adam Schiff and others in the Democratic party have argued that talking about impeaching President Trump would only “normalize it” as a four year ritual, and running on it in the midterms is a sure path to defeat for the Democratic party. They reason that the political issue should be back-burnered for now while Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues quietly without comment. Some assert that even if crimes are found, Democrats should not follow through on impeachment because it could result in Trump being emboldened if acquitted, and that every presidency will be living under a cloud of impeachment from here on out.
But the problem isn’t normalizing impeachment; it’s normalizing presidencies such as Trump’s. If Democrats simply settle for winning the midterms (if they do) and turn their focus to 2020, they will be rewarding Trump for his alleged crimes and obstruction of justice, as well as his atrociously non-presidential behavior. That is the existential danger to our democracy, not the idea of impeaching a president who deserves it.
As for the idea that Democrats should just run on local issues in the midterms and avoid a unified national message, that might have worked when Trump’s approval numbers were in the mid-30s. But as he consolidates his base around scrapping the Iran deal, the North Korea peace summit, and an historically low unemployment rate, just hoping anti-Trump sentiment will carry the party over the finish line this fall is a fool’s errand. Connor Lamb won PA18 by a whisker when Trump’s numbers were at their worst, and Doug Jones prevailed in Georgia’s senate special election because he was running against an alt-right pedophile. And it was still close!
Contrast that to this fall, when GOP candidates will be bragging about ending the Obamacare mandate, delivering tax cuts, a growing economy, and maybe even a Korean peace treaty. Against all that, a “just win and we’ll talk later” strategy may leave Democrats several House seats short of a majority.
To those who argue that the specter of impeachment backfired against Republicans in the 1998 midterms, people forget that Bill Clinton was a vastly popular second-term president when he was impeached for relatively minor transgressions of a personal nature. That contrasts greatly from Trump, a broadly reviled first-term president who may have subverted an election in return for future favors to Russia, which, if provable, is clearly an act of bribery and treason. It should also be noted that while their 1999 senate impeachment trial may have failed to convict Clinton, the GOP won back the presidency in 2000. Had they not made Clinton’s character failings a national issue for almost two years, George W. Bush might not have defeated a sitting vice president in times of relative peace and prosperity. A president impeached is a president disgraced, be he convicted or acquitted.
A more apt comparison for Trump is Richard Nixon, who clearly deserved his fate as a result of congressional impeachment hearings, just as does any president who abuses the law and manipulates an election to further his political ambitions.
By following through on the impeachment process, Democrats aren’t looking to punish Donald Trump (though he may deserve it). They are looking to defend the laws and values of the nation, and defend our democratic electoral process from foreign subterfuge.
That is never “wrong” – be it in an election year or between them.
If Mueller’s investigation connects the president to serious crimes (and that’s a big “IF”), Trump should be held accountable. He may not ultimately be removed from office by a divided senate, and that’s a political outcome Democrats will have to deal with – possibly with a censure vote. But a majority of Americans are clamoring for justice. They aren’t watching MSNBC every day at historic ratings hoping there’s no impeachment. They’re watching to see the case against Trump blossom.
Of course, the party shouldn’t run solely on impeachment in the midterms, or promise a result it can’t deliver. But it should run on a promise to enforce justice and hold elected officials accountable for their actions. It should run on being the better party, both in ideas and in character. That is a platform that most Americans will rally to.
Everyone wants an America that lives up to its ideals. Letting a lawless, deceitful president get away with breaking the law does not advance those ideals. It disintegrates them forever.
That’s a normalcy no one should settle for.