As the bizarre presidency of Donald Trump continues to spiral into uncharted waters of peculiarity, talk of impeachment is gaining momentum. At the moment I write this, Trump’s approval rating is hovering somewhere below 40% and his disapproval rating is nearing historically high territory. It has just been reported that Mr. Trump is, indeed–despite his seemingly obsessive need to show otherwise–under FBI investigation for obstruction of justice. While part of me would love to see this embarrassing circus leave town, another part of me is reluctant to see us go down the impeachment road.
I am no fan of President Trump as I discuss here, here, and here. Yet, the growing prospect of impeachment doesn’t excite me…in fact, it worries me.
As I see it, there are three key potential outcomes looming large as warning signs against removing Mr. Trump from office in any manner other than through the election in 2020, which I will categorize under the idiom, be careful what you wish for.
1. Removing President Trump through impeachment would be difficult to do and the process would set a dangerous precedent.
There have been 44 presidents before Donald Trump. In those 228 years of the presidential timeline, only two presidents have faced actual impeachment. As you likely remember from Government class, impeachment does not mean removal. Impeachment is putting a president on trial to see if there are grounds for removal. To date, only Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton have faced impeachment and both men kept their job because there were not enough votes to remove them. (It should be noted that Richard Nixon would have very likely been impeached and removed had he not “gotten out of Dodge” by resigning, but history closed the door to that scenario so it became a moot point.)
With Republicans in firm control of Congress, it would be extremely difficult to remove President Trump through impeachment. The process would be astronomically costly to our nation, both financially and emotionally.
Even if, by some miracle, enough Republicans did vote to oust President Trump, the repercussions could be devastating.
Our nation is so divided that we seem to be getting less and less willing to accept the results of our elections, the fundamental keystone to our republic. I see a day coming, if it isn’t already here, where no matter who we elect, the opposition will immediately begin calling for impeachment. Do we really want to go down that road?
I’d prefer to accept the results of an election and then get really busy trying to find a better candidate to win the next one, as I discuss here.
2. Removing President Trump through impeachment would fuel paranoia among his most ardent supporters and might spread to those on the fence.
I spend a lot of time looking at articles that my social media friends post, both those from the perspective of the left and the right. Doing so can be headache inducing because I often break my own rule about reading these viral posts, which is to never read the comments. Like rubber-necking a car wreck on the interstate highways, I can’t help myself…I always have to sneak a peek. Invariably, I quickly get depressed by being sucked into the mire of vitriol spewed forth by the folks on both sides. What I learn there however, is that there are far too many people walking in lockstep with extreme ideologies on both sides of the political spectrum. These kinds of people form their world view from extremely biased “news” sources and think everything else is a lie.
I wondered what could drive someone to be a passionate supporter of someone like Donald Trump, a state of mind I could not find any way to relate to until I watched a 30 for 30 episode on ESPN and had a bit of an epiphany that gave me some degree of empathy for Trump supporters. You can read about that here. Suffice to say, for now, that once someone digs in their heals and latches onto an political stance, it can become impossible to move them, regardless of the chaos surrounding their man in office.
With that in mind, can you imagine the divided mess that would result in our nation if Trump were removed through impeachment? Taken a step further, can you imagine that happening without the prospect of widespread violence? If you can, you have a more optimistic outlook than I do.
I understand that there are quite a few people so far to the right that they will never see eye to eye even with those in the middle, but I do fear that removing Trump now might push some of those more level-headed fence riders further right.
3. Removing President Trump through impeachment would open the door for a potentially more dangerous replacement.
One good thing about having a politically inexperienced wild card like Donald Trump in the oval office is that, so far, checks and balances have dulled his axe. He has attempted to push policy through but his most outlandish attempts have been curtailed by the Supreme Court or by Congressional votes. Perhaps, Trump is such a newbie to the game that his own party helps police him.
However, if Trump is removed, there is a cagy veteran waiting in the wings. Vice President Pence is a wily enough politician to get things done in D.C. As a Hoosier, I have first hand experience being governed by Mike Pence. As an educator, I can tell you that he really terrifies me. Pence has a track record of getting his agenda accomplished, even by unscrupulous means that circumvent the will of his constituents, which I wrote about here.
If removing Donald Trump would open the door to a Mike Pence presidency, I’d just as soon muddle through another three years and take my chances in the next election.
Before you get too excited and start salivating over the prospect of impeaching Donald Trump, consider the consequences.