Sometimes two things that feel contradictory can actually be true at the same time. Recognizing this, I think, is one of the ways we can discover nuance — a seemingly lost art in what passes for today’s national dialog.
I see examples of this all the time, often in politics, but in other arenas as well. A great example is the current debate over what Nancy Pelosi said about impeaching Trump, i.e., that it wouldn’t be “worth it.” People are upset about this, and I totally understand that. I’m upset too.
There is no doubt in my mind that Trump’s conduct has met, again and again, an impeachable standard. In emolument violations alone he has flouted the constitution. His recent emergency declaration violates the limitations of the office. His obvious & public witness tampering and obstruction of justice. His refusal to listen to American intelligence sources while holding closed-door meetings with multiple enemies of our nation. Even his daily behavior fails to meet the standard of nobility we expect from the office.
And I feel down to my bones that impeachment should be a matter of national security and principle, rather than political advantage. That no matter which party the president is from, Congress as a whole has an obligation to act in the best interest of the nation.
Yet Republicans have proven a hundred times that they will not hold this man accountable for anything. Their vague hand-wringing has devolved into base bootlicking. They have completely surrendered anything even resembling oversight power in the Senate; their sole purpose is to ram through as many of Trump’s judges as possible.
So while it’s true that Trump deserves impeachment, it’s also true that the Senate will not vote to convict. That means no impeachment effort will remove him from office.
I don’t want that to be true. It kills me that that’s true. I want to ignore that that’s true and plow ahead with impeachment anyway—because it feels like a moral imperative. It feels like our country *has* to be better than that, that letting this president get away with the atrocities he’s committed guarantees we will see even worse in the future. And that may also be true.
But none of that changes the fact that impeachment will be a symbolic action. Even if it passes the House, the Senate will never vote to convict based on the evidence currently available, and possibly never, period. In that case, what does impeachment achieve? Well, it may achieve a temporary sense of empowerment among democrats. It may leave the president appearing weak and attacked.
But I think it’s far more likely to leave the president looking stronger. Impervious. And that will, if anything, embolden him. It may even affect public opinion—”Oh, well, they tried to impeach him and failed so I guess there really was no collusion and I can believe everything he says.” If that happens, the impeachment attempt itself will paradoxically make it HARDER to remove Trump from office next year, by making him stronger going in to the election.
So what is the real goal? To impeach for the sake of impeaching, to follow that moral imperative because it’s what America really SHOULD do? Or to get this cancer out of the white house?
Because if the goal is the latter, until we know we have the votes in the Senate and that Mitch McConnell will even bring it for a vote, the best way to achieve that goal is to forego an impeachment vote in the House and focus all our energy on beating the bastard in the 2020 presidential election.
It kills me to say that. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
Trump deserves to be impeached.
Impeaching Trump may empower him to remain in the office.
Both things are true.