The Democrats are so keen on impeaching Trump they are doing so with unseemly haste. Is that smart? All of them seem to think so. I have yet to hear one opposed. Every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted for impeachment today. But is impeachment a big mistake?
Even though I am a lone wolf on this issue, I think it is a big mistake even though I think he is clearly guilty as sin and deserves to be impeached. Impeachment is a political process where facts are not very important. That is great for Trump and his fans. It is not so good for the rest of us.
Prosecutors have a rule that they should not prosecute unless they have a reasonable likelihood of a successful prosecution. That is a good rule. It reserves a court for what it was designed for. It is not designed to send a message or make a point. An impeachment trial is sort of like that.
Before Trump’s first impeachment trial in which Trump was acquitted the Democrats said they wanted to demonstrate that Trump could not get away with all the nasty things he had done. They wanted to teach him and future presidents a lesson. Well what lesson did Trump learn from the first impeachment trial? He learned he could get away with obstructing justice because the Republicans would back him up no matter what he did or said. He was emboldened by the victory. I remember the Maine Senator who was interviewed after the trial said she was sure Trump had learned a lesson and would be more careful in the future. That was hopelessly naïve. He learned he could do a lot with impunity.
If Trump is likely to be acquitted again, as many say, and as I believe, what will happen? He won’t be president anymore so it won’t matter for that purpose. But even worse it will embolden the Trumper out there that no matter how bad they act their political brethren will save them. We cannot forget that Trumpism is alive and well. Even after inciting a deadly riot against the sacred temple of American democracy and encouraging and unleashing an angry mob that vandalized the Capitol, terrorized the politicians, and nearly led to a successful insurrection, if the Senate acquits Trump then Trumpers will get the same message. They will know they can get away with anything. Then the next Trump, who is likely to be smarter than the first Trump, will be emboldened. America could be in for serious trouble.
Everyone must remember impeachment has the form of a trial but really it is a political process. At the first impeachment trial only 1 Republican voted to find Trump guilty of only 1 of the charges. This time to reach the required 2/3rds majority in the Senate at least 17 Republican Senators must vote to find him guilty. In the House only 10 agreed to charge Trump. Why does anyone think 17 Republicans can be turned against him. Trumpism is alive. His devoted fans are still exactly that. Republicans will have to be brave to vote guilty. I have never seen much bravery in the Republican party. I hope I am wrong but I am deeply pessimistic.
After Bill Clinton was acquitted at his impeachment trial, where voting was largely on partisan lines, he was charged up after the trial and became more popular than ever.
I fear the same thing will happen if Trump is acquitted, which I believe is probable. He and his supporters—i.e. the Trumpers–will be turbo-charged. If he is found guilty it will make no difference. They believe he was elected and that he can do no wrong and that the evil Democrats are out to get him.
The thing that Trump likes most besides himself is attention. Another impeachment trial will give him abundant publicity, when it would be to the advantaged of Democrats to have the attention given to Biden and his new team instead. The Democrats should do whatever they can to take attention away from Trump. He will still get attention, but let’s not amplify it. James Comey said “The greatest punishment for Trump would be to be left at the lawn at Mar-a-Lago yelling at cars as they go by.
Don’t give Trump what he wants. Give him what he hates–i.e. to be ignored. The Democrats have a lot to lose and little to gain by impeaching Trump again.