Normalizing impeachment

Paul Kane, who writes about Congress for the Washington Post, advises us to “forget what they say — Democrats are readying for impeachment.” Kane notes that Congressional Democrats aren’t talking up the idea of impeaching Trump; indeed, leaders are hesitant to use the “i” word. But their actions demonstrate to Kane that impeachment of President Trump is what Dems have in mind if they win control of the House next year. (Trump’s removal via “conviction” by the Senate seems almost out of the question).

Kane points to the selection of Jerrold Nadler to replace John Conyers as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler defeated Zoe Lofgren by a significantly larger margin than experts say he would have achieved had impeachment plans not been on the front burner.

Kane, a liberal, is attuned to what Democrats think. Thus, we should, indeed, forget what Democrats say and get ready for impeachment if the House flips.

Unless Robert Mueller strikes gold, I believe that impeaching President Trump would hurt Democratic prospects for 2020. The fact that leading congressional Dems don’t want to talk about impeachment now shows that Americans aren’t likely to be thrilled about impeaching even an unpopular president when the time comes, absent much better evidence and arguments for impeachment than currently exist.

However, an even an unpopular impeachment in 2018-19 wouldn’t rule out Democratic success in 2020. Thus, the Democrats might not receive negative reinforcement for the endeavor.

In that case, expect impeachment proceedings to become the norm whenever the House is controlled by one party and the presidency by another, unless the president is enormously popular. Republicans could have brought plausible articles of impeachment against President Obama, whose regard for the Constitution was intermittent and contingent. If Hillary Clinton were president, the articles of impeachment would write themselves.

In a two-term presidency, it’s normal now for the House to be in control of the opposing party for a spell. Thus, again assuming Democrats wouldn’t pay a perceived political price for impeaching Trump, impeachment proceedings might well become the norm.

Such an America wouldn’t exactly be a banana republic. That requires actual coups, not serial unsuccessful use of a procedure provided for by the Constitution. But an America where impeachment becomes the norm, with all of the attendant wasted motion and ugliness, would be a farcical Republic, and the bad blood generated by serial impeachments might lead to tragedy.

JOHN adds: I don’t think there is any doubt that the Democrats will impeach the president if they win a majority in the House next November, even if it is by a single vote, and even though they don’t have remotely plausible grounds. I agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s view of the dangerous direction in which we are heading, but the Democrats are too far gone in hate and lust for power to care. Politically, we are living in sad times.