By Matthew Johnson
While I commend efforts to turn Presidents’ Day into a display of outrage over the non-emergency declaration rat-her than a celebration of non-existent presidential grandeur, I would much rather impeach Trump than protest him.
I was on the fence on the merits of pushing impeachment before the long-awaited arrival of the Mueller report, but the cogent essay published in The Atlantic thoroughly convinced me that beginning the impeachment process immediately is the way to go. I don’t see the utility in waiting if there is no guarantee the public will ever see Mueller’s findings—thus averting further outrage that could force the hand of Senate Republicans. Moreover, the argument that the Democrats shouldn’t try to impeach because they would lose is not only contrary to the goal of attempting to enforce the rule of law but is also cowardly. One could easily reduce this argument to if you can’t win, then don’t play. This lose-first mentality has been a fixture of the Democratic strategy for far too long. The Democratic party must move beyond compromise with an uncompromising opponent if it wants to win in 2019, 2020, and beyond.
Well-intentioned friends of mine have brought up the point that even if Trump is removed from office, “Commander” Mike Pence would take his place. And Mike Pence is just as evil but far more boring and, therefore, able to conduct his machinations outside public scrutiny—and more effectively. It’s a clever argument, but I don’t buy it for two reasons: the first is that Trump enjoys far more grassroots support than Pence (for the aforementioned reason that watching Pence speak, or do anything, is worse than—to borrow Colbert’s word play--watching paint lie), and the second is that the downfall of Trump would undoubtedly mire an accidental Pence presidency into an inability to effectively pursue the Trump/Pence agenda. We should recall that former President Ford has already gone down in the dustbin of history as a less-than-one-term president who pardoned Nixon and did little else. Pence would likely follow suit.
Trump ought to be impeached not because most Americans dislike him but because the Constitution demands it. You can have a constitutional government predicated on rule of law and separation of powers—or you can have an autocracy. But you can’t have both.