Impeachment - Will the System Hold?

Stephen Rockwell • 13 October 2019
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Impeachment.  The process has finally begun.

We all thought that the Mueller investigation would make a clear case for impeachment, but there was too much reading between the lines in his long thesis. His presentation to Congress was uneven to the point of impotence, surprisingly for a man of such stature.  Or perhaps putting kids in cages and separating from their parents, violating fundamental human rights, would have been perceived by the political establishment as a high crime.  Bush blew past the Geneva Conventions on torture with no repercussions, so no dice on kids in cages as a rationale for impeachment.  Instead, Trump openly admitted to colluding with a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political opponent who was  engaged in the 2020 political campaign.  Trump forced the reluctant hand of Nancy Pelosi to act on impeachment of a despicable President.

Even for those who look at American institutions with a healthy skepticism given its uneven record on producing political outcomes that represent the will of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority, the impeachment is vitally important to the future of the republic.  There is a lot more at stake than getting rid of Donald Trump, a hollow man who fills the deep void of his being with the very worst human emotions that most of us try to avoid. His narcism requires anger, spite, and hatefulness as fuel and corruption and corrupting those around him to serve his ego and his financial interests comes as second nature.  His corruption has seeped into the institutions and basic norms that have allowed the United States to function, however imperfectly, as the longest standing Constitutional Republic in human history. 

Getting rid of Trump is thereby the first, and most immediately necessary, step in de-corrupting our system of government.  We need to do so not because we like or dislike Trump, but because we have some fealty to the rule of law and a deep appreciation of the separation of powers laid out in the Constitution. Any institutional healing process will need to further expunge lawless Trump appointees, reversal of norm-shattering policies, and the establishment of new constraints on the power of future Presidents to behave in such a manner.  

Before Trump, we took our institutions and the rule of law largely for granted. Yes, there were politics, often nasty in their attempts to sway public opinion, but much of what our civics classes taught us held true.  There was some sense of permanence to the notion of the United States and its 3 co-equal branches of government, competing institutions that balance power.  Trump's actions have shown thus far that this system is actually a good deal more fragile.  Bad actors who show little respect for others and the norms that history and good practice built.  Compromised players in the system will offer little resistance and find themselves complicity in destroying the institutions and relationships that they once held so dear.  

Of course, Trump is not purely an anomaly and is largely a creation of the times.  Money has so inundated the political system it has often drowned out the notions of representative democracy.  If corporate and big money donors can have their say with representatives who do their will and not the will of the people who voted for them, we have broken the system.  The twentieth century saw the rise of an Imperial President who has an incredible amount of power rapped up in the leadership of the Defense and Intelligence agencies.  The War Powers Act and other Congressional and Judicial decisions tried to maintain some balance, but it is clear that the Executive Branch has gotten out in front of the other 2 branches of government.  And let us not forget the Mitch McConnell as minority and majority leader of the GOP in the Senate has instituted a scorched earth politics that have undermined the basic norms of the "world's greatest deliberative body," going so far as to steal a seat on the US Supreme Court.  

These issues need to be corrected so that the system never produces a viable candidate for President with such autocratic proclivities. But it all starts first with upholding the rule of law and maintaining the basic integrity of our elections.  The Republicans will need to choose how they want history to be written about themselves, what legacy they want to impart to their children and grandchildren.  They need to be able to answer the basic question of every generation, did you leave it better than the way you found it?  There is little doubt that the Democrats will impeach because the case has already been made public by Trump himself.  The real question is will the system of checks and balances hold?  Will Republicans fulfill their obligations with history and future generations looking on?  

Impeachment.  The time has come.  Is this political generation up to the challenge or will they fail again?  

 

Politics #trump  #impeachtrump #democracy