The Democratic Party keeps on telling us that most Americans are too stupid to understand the different between impeachment and an impeachment trial. Underestimating the public and coming off as if they are smarter than the average citizen is among the Democrat’s greatest failings, and, clearly, they have not learned the most important lesson from the 2016 campaign.
Like just about everything else, there’s some truth to this one, but it’s overstated. The impeachment process is easy to understand: the House acts as a grand jury, the Senate acts as the jury. It’s just that simple. Instead of calling the electorate ignorant, the Democrats should adopt this line as their mantra.
Here’s where it gets a bit complicated. An impeachment trial has absolutely nothing to do with the laws that are on the books. The accused is being called out for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and that specification is not defined by the Constitution or by the courts. Were you a federal judge or the president of the United States, you could have led your life without breaking a single law and still be worthy of being removed from office. Pleading insanity won’t get you anywhere.
Seeing that I just boiled the impeachment process down to high concept, I’ll try to minimize the conviction part as well. You could be convicted and removed from office strictly because your behavior constitutes a demonstrable threat to the nation and to the processes that put the “US” in “U.S.A.” You can do that without breaking any laws. Look at Trump.
In the case of our president du jure, this should be moot. He’s admitted to breaking plenty of laws and putting a day-glow “FOR SALE” sign in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In a court of law he would likely be convicted by his own words – fake news from our fake president. But the Senate is not a court of law as such, it is not bound by the rules and procedures of the federal courts, and all we need to know about Trump is that he placed the nation in significant jeopardy by certain actions he decided to take. The smoking gun thing doesn’t come into it until he really does shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue.
“High crimes and misdemeanors” means whatever two-thirds of the 100 senators decide it means. Our senators will make their decision, by and large, not by pointing to the damage this president has caused or the babies he’s abducted or the lunch programs he’s killed or the environment he’s ruined. The decision will be made for political reasons.
Sure, ethics will come into it on some level in the minds of some senators, but that will be the window dressing and not the compelling factor. Politics are politics, Washington is Washington, and history is history. The only important considerations are, in order, “will my vote bring in or chase away campaign contributions” and then “will the voters in my state reelect me if I vote one way or the other.”
If it comes to a vote. Moscow Mitch is obligated to start the trial, but he or any other senator can end it at any time if a majority of senators decide to – and, of course, the Republicans have the majority. Will Mitch appreciate the damage that will do to his party, to his majority and to the occupant of the White House?
“Truth, justice and the American way” is a great a slogan, but it is not the standard to which politicians conform their phony-baloney jobs. Patriotism is akin to fashion: some “pro-lifers” back Trump’s Hitlerian program to separate and emotionally molest potential immigrants from their children because, well, hey, Trump says he will end all abortions and make it harder for women to have access to birth control. Screw those poor kids who had the terrible misfortune to allow themselves to be born.
Should we get rid of Trump? You might as well ask “should we put America back into America.” He’s been very good to the ultra-wealthy, but there isn’t much more for them to get out of our bastard-in-chief. The fundamentalist religious communities still want to ram their beliefs down everybody’s throats, as freedom of religion interferes with the way they exercise their religion. They think Trump works for them.
You don’t need to be a seer in order to predict Trump’s response to his upcoming trial. He will look at the television ratings for the proceedings and declare himself the most-watched person in history.
The sad part is, Trump will see this as a victory.