I was taking a break from putting away Christmas decorations when I picked up David Leonhardt’s OpEd in the New York Times, “The People vs. Donald J. Trump.” The columnist comprehensively lays out the case for beginning impeachment proceedings of the President now. The article is not a partisan rant or hysterical doomsday fantasy. Rather, it is a thoughtful, comprehensive piece; and whatever your views on the subject, I commend the article to you. Leonhardt avoids policy considerations (a wholly different issue, for which there may also be grounds for impeachment), and focuses on character and how the President’s continued deportment is more damaging to the country than would be the distraction caused by an impeachment process.
As the new Congress begins its work, whether or not to advocate for impeachment is a contentious topic among Democrats. Leonhardt’s article does not minimize the societal disruption that impeachment would cause, nor does he fall into the trap of trivializing the tool set out by the founders as a final peaceful guardrail against tyranny. Rather, he weighs the costs of impeachment against the potential damage of remaining silent on this issue, given the unpredictable, volatile and often vengeful practices of the current President. As Leonhardt says, Trump is “demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?” Delaying action until voters make a decision at the ballot box in 2020 would essentially give the President a pass for his current behavior. What would be the long-term impact of such a pass?
The article prompted me to recognize that, whatever happens on the national or global stage in the coming two years, this issue is one about which every American needs to consider and develop an informed opinion. It is inconceivable that this will not be a topic of conversation—in the halls of Congress, in classrooms and board rooms, around dinner tables—into the foreseeable future. Ducking the issue, it seems to me, is irresponsible citizenship. Knowing where you stand is an important means of addressing what will likely be the most significant political question of a generation.
There are two aspects to this question: the first involves President Trump’s fitness for office and the potential price that his remaining in office through January, 2021 may have on our country. Each of us must ask ourselves the key question: is the man fit to serve in the office he holds. Since he was duly elected, answering this question is no trivial matter, and demands cautious and thorough consideration.
The second part of the question is strategic: is it better to wait and let Robert Mueller’s investigation conclude and then decide? Or is it more important to be an advocate for impeachment now, believing that enough evidence already exists to begin this process and that waiting exposes the nation to chaotic governance in an uncertain future? (There may be a third option; I would welcome your thoughts on that as well.)
So, my challenge in this post is to be prepared: do some research, talk to trusted friends, make a chart of pros and cons, form a cohesive position and then be an advocate for that opinion. It is important that we not shy away from this difficult topic, but rather engage in courageous conversations, listening actively to one another and then be prepared to defend our position before any legislative action takes place.
Informed opinions in the marketplace of ideas can add deeper insight and new understanding to the conversations that will take place in the coming months among families, colleagues, legislators and friends. Engaged dialogue can both tamp down the noise that is so rampant in the media and help break the silence that so often happens among families and friends as people say, “we just agree not to talk about such things.” Thoughtful, respectful, caring conversations are just what we need. But first, each of us must figure out where we stand.
5 thoughts on “Impeachment–Where Do You Stand?”
Thank you for bringing this up. I truly believe that Mr. Trump should be convinced to resign. How this would be done that would not further divide the nation I do not know. I do know it took impeachment to convince Mr Nixon to resign, but the healing process began immediately thereafter. I believe it would be helpful for Mr. Mueller’s investigation to be presented to Congress at this time.
Our country truly is in a state of Emergency, not because of threatening invaders from outside but due to the instability, cruelty, greediness, egoism, capriciousness, lying, chaotic management, and undemocratic values of the occupant of the White House who is causing mass suffering at home and abroad, and gravely compromising our safety and security through hidden deals with Putin, Russian oligarchs, etc.
I believe we need to move on many fronts at once — deepening the cracks in those parts of Republican support for Mr. T. that are shallow or vulnerable, speaking to Americans who are far from us geographically and politically, influencing local and state elections, amplifying the truth about issues like immigration and the environment via social media, strengthening the voices of young people such as David Hogg and the others from Parkland, and on and on. Faith communities/leaders of all stripes have a critical role to play to drive home the moral, social, spiritual, and economic realities of Trump’s regime and offer direction, strength, and hope to the despairing, overwhelmed, or disempowered masses.
Just chipping in my 2 cents: I’m opposed to impeachment.
1) The legal case is still dubious and still pending the long awaited (and still distant?) Mueller Report
2) “Fitness” and “Unfitness” are not Constitutional grounds for removal or anything else
3) The odds of success are minimal; The Republicans Senate won’t convict unless they see political advantage.
4) If we win, we lose; we get Pence.
5) If we win we lose; we might just help identify another Republican candidate who can actually win in 2020.
6) We’ve got more important things to do, like identify candidates who can carry the flag–and win!
7) Moral outrage is ephemeral.
A complicated question On first blush I am with “Bob K” and with Barbara. This discussion perhaps needs to be two fold. First, “regular order” — what are “the facts” and is there probable cause to believe they qualify as “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” in the context of the Constitutional conception of those grounds. I think without the Mueller Report we won’t know. And perhaps there are other sources for that information. It needs to be laid out in very specific details. (There is also the 28th Amendment, which is more about the fitness to remain in office on health/mental grounds, which might include temperament)
There is the more difficult issue of the risk a strong man such a Trump creates to the future and safety of the world and to our country. The question suggests Elections are the solution. The risk of not pursuing constitutionally specified impeachment, is that there could be people who attempt to impose some sort of other –extra-constitutional– means to protect the world.
We are in perilous moments. What we really need as women and men to begin to step-up to the challenge and chart a path to the future.
The bottom line for me is that Mr. Trump, AND Trumpism, must go. But how should that be accomplished? A great deal has been invested in the Mueller investigation(s). They need to be completed. My guess is that they will be very persuasive, perhaps persuasive enough that Republican support for the President will be further eroded in the Senate. I hope that a strong, bipartisan delegation of both houses of Congress will emerge and privately convince Mr. Trump that it is in his best interest, and obviously the best interest of the country, that he resign. He may even get that message when the committees of the new House begin to make their own inquiries.
If he becomes persuaded to resign, I don’t think he will disappear into a remote retirement as President Nixon did. He is too flamboyant for that.
In addition, I think it is not too early to be thinking of the most competent–and electable–to run against Trump. We who are Democrats need to make up out minds whether this is the time for a female President and whether a female candidate (or an African American) can be elected. The nation needs time for that to be sorted out.
Clearly it is a time for prayerful strategizing.