“Let the people vote” has become a rallying cry for
Republican apologists during the impeachment. Their argument goes that what
Trump did was bad (or maybe it was perfect, depending on the pundit), but it wasn’t
impeachable. Since we’re close to an election anyway, Trump’s defenders say, we
should just let the voters decide whether Trump should be fired for his
transgressions rather than going through the impeachment process.
The Republican defense breaks down almost immediately
because every last one of the Republicans making this argument, even the ones
who say that he behaved poorly, are endorsing Trump for re-election. Put
simply, Republicans believe that Trump abused his office and that voters should
reward him with a second term. The Republican argument is simply the first step
of a two-part plan in which President Trump escapes all consequences for his
The reality is that Donald Trump is the most lawless
president that most of us have ever seen, inclusive of Barack Obama with his
pen and phone. The grounds for impeaching Trump do not begin and end with the
whistleblower and the Ukrainian quid pro quo. President Trump has a long
history of flouting the law and the Constitution that he swore an oath to
uphold. The Mueller report’s allegations of obstruction painted a picture of a president
who valued personal loyalty over adherence to the law. His use of national
emergencies to subvert the will of Congress was a blatant attempt to escape the
outcome of the 2018 midterm elections. The president’s frequent and repeated
attempts to intimidate witnesses are evidence that the president is either
ignorant of traditional legal norms or willfully disregards them entirely.
Finally, the Ukraine
whistleblower scandal represents a naked attempt to use his own version of
a Deep State to take military aid earmarked for an ally at war with Russia and
leverage it for his own personal benefit.
The common thread among these and other actions by President
Trump is that they represent a pattern of abusing his position as president for
personal gain. To ignore such a lengthy list of offenses and reward the
offender with a second term would be to invite further abuse, not only from
this president but from future executives of both parties. Given the flagrant
and unprecedented abuses by Donald Trump, Congress had no real choice but to
take action against the president. To do otherwise would be to accept a
diminished constitutional role as the president usurps Congress’ authority. Of
course, the House should impeach Donald Trump.
Impeachment does not overturn an election and it is not a
coup. Donald Trump will still be president unless and until he is removed by
the Senate. If President Trump is removed, Mike Pence will become president,
not Hillary Clinton. It would be a poor excuse for a coup that left the
president’s own party in power.
What impeachment does mean is that history will record that Americans found Donald Trump’s behavior to be grossly inappropriate. Impeachment will be a black mark against Trump’s name that will stand as a warning to future presidents that such abuses of power will not be tolerated.
The Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to vote to
convict and remove Donald Trump from office, however. And that’s okay. After
the impeachment, after President Trump has been punished by the House, is the
appropriate time for the people to vote.
After impeachment, voters will have their say on whether
Democrats overstepped or whether their actions were within reason. Voters can
decide whether President Trump’s behavior over the past four years was a series
of abuses of power or whether they want four more years of Twitter diplomacy.
After impeachment, it will be up to the people to decide
whether President Trump should be removed from office. If voters want to reject
the politics of deceit and division, they should send a strong message at the
polls next November and fire not only Donald Trump but his Republican enablers.
Then they should keep sending messages in subsequent elections and hold other
politicians accountable for their behavior as well.
Note: For those who complain about lack of evidence in this article, I examined the evidence previously in a separate piece here. Although that was before Donald Trump admitted to holding up the aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a conspiracy theory involving the DNC server.