07:30:13 am on
Monday 15 Jul 2024

Impeachment May Help Trump
RK Samuelson

To impeach or not impeach, that is the question. Will it damage the President? Will it benefit him and possibly contribute to his re-election.

Was Nancy Pelosi cornered?

Nobody in Washington understands the implications better than does Nancy Pelosi. She is one of the shrewdest politicians in America. She is well aware that impeachment could blow up in her face, get Trump re-elected and cost the Democrats control of the House.

We are perhaps living through the most divisive period in American history since the Civil War and Prohibition. One third of the country loves Trump, another third hates him and the other third can’t make up their mind or don’t care. The President’s mouth, attitude and disregard for law and decorum do nothing to alleviate the situation.

Impeachment, perhaps, is the only way for Congress to rein in the Prescient and take control. It’s important to remember impeachment does not remove the President from office. It is a list or charges brought against the President, for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The wording is vague; this gives Congress considerable discretion. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Papers 65, 66, 79 and 81, claimed impeachment could be for misuse of power or abuse of public trust. This could indeed work against Trump.

If impeachment succeeds, the House may refer the matter to the Senate, which may conduct a trial, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. At the conclusion of the trial, the senators vote on whether or not to remove the President from office. If they vote to remove him, then the Vice-President becomes President, right away. In reality, today, at least, this outcome is a virtual impossibility.

A two-thirds majority of the voting senators is required to remove the President. If every senator shows up to the vote, the magic number is sixty-seven. Sixty senators, mostly Republicans, represent states that Trump won in 2016. Republicans control thus the Senate and twenty of them would have to flip, to ensure the removal of the President. For now, this seems unlikely, as senators, who are Republicans, have stood by and let Trump run rampant.

These impeachment facts may be only the beginning of a Democratic nightmare, which could turn out beneficial for Trump. Pelosi is concerned for Democrats that won, in 2018, by narrow margins. She has said Congress must stop investigating, impeaching and criticizing; vulnerable candidates need positive achievements, such as legislation, on which to campaign.

Democratic candidates cannot stand up at a town hall meeting and say, “For two years we investigated Trump and came up with nothing. We impeached him and lost. We threw mud that didn’t stick. Healthcare, education, prescription drug prices, well, we were too busy.”

The second possible benefit for Trump is impeachment will take out his most formidable opponent. Most experts believe that Joe Biden has the best chance to take out Trump. He is a moderate old school Democrat, who has credibility with the blue-collar workers that voted for Trump in the battle ground states, such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Innuendo may end the Biden campaign.

Unfortunately, the current impeachment investigation will be as much about Biden as Trump. The Republicans will be digging through documents looking for dirt on Biden; Trump has already asked Ukraine and China to help in this regard. So far, it looks as if enough innuendo may exist to end the Biden campaign.

A possible third benefit of impeachment for Trump is that by taking out his strongest opponent, the Democrats might hand Trump the candidate he most wants to run against. Elizabeth Warren is smart, thoughtful and well-spoken She one tough woman that has come up with more good ideas than the rest of the Democratic candidates put together. Still, she has a problem.

With Biden out, Warren would have to campaign by competing with a field of candidates who are considerably to the left of mainstream America. If she wins the nomination, she will need their support and she will have to embrace some of their programmes. You can’t win Pennsylvania by banning fracking; not straight out, anyway. You can’t tell union workers in the Midwest that you want to take away their-hard won health care plans and put them on Medicare. Finally, after people spent years paying off student loans, you can’t increase their taxes to pay for the loans others still owe.

In summary, Pelosi’s instincts were right. If you want to dump Trump, impeachment is the wrong tool for the job; an election is likely to be more successful. Congress forced Pelosi to play the impeachment card. Moreover, impeachment may hand Trump three benefits.

If impeachment fails, Trump will brag that he beat them. Second, because impeachment will involve Biden, it could take out the strongest, the most electable, candidate Democrats can offer. Without Biden, the Democratic agenda could be too far to the left for the five per cent or so of moderate Middle Americans that will ultimately decide the election.

Three ideas seem obvious from the current situation in Washington. First, with the exception of the Civil War and Prohibition, the country was never been as bitterly divided as it is now. Fully one third of the country is a die-hard Trump base, and another third is bitterly anti-Trump. Both sides seem to hate each other, whereas the other third stands in the middle, confused by what seems to them the all-consuming hatred.

The solution is start talking to folks on the other side. Listen don’t lecture. Find out what motivates them. In the 1980s, there was a considerable divide between Congress and the President on many issues. At the end of the day, though, President Reagan and Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, got together over a glass of Scotch.

Second, Trump is not the problem. He is a symptom. He may be crude, rude and boorish. When did it become acceptable to drop F-bombs in congress, while speaking of the President? It is time for all Americans to learn again how to resolve differences and conflicts through concession, compromise and civility.

Finally, we must ask can democracy survive in America. After World War I, the Americans forced democracy on European countries, which aristocracies had governed for more than a thousand years. Over a dozen European countries rejected democracy in favor of dictatorships; Italy and Spain immediately leap to mind.

At an international speech in 1932, Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, defended dictatorship by proclaiming, “The people cannot govern themselves. The people do not want to govern themselves. All they want is a government that works.” For example, in Italy, Mussolini ensured the trains ran on time.

Was Goebbels right?

We are at a crossroads in history. Over the next few years, we have the opportunity to show the world whether America was right or Goebbels was right. We have to make the trains run on time by democratic, not by authoritarian, means.

Robert King Samuelson, in his own words, "is a perspiring writer trying to raise his voice above the cackling insolence and fractured language of the bloggery."

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