February 9, 2020

Was The Impeachment Effort Worth It?



Well, that is over. Something that has happened only two other times in our nation's history is now complete. As was the case in the previous episodes, the Senate did not take the ultimate step of using the House's impeachment resolutions as a reason to expel either Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton from the presidency. Richard Nixon quit before things got to that point, but the odds were pretty good he would have been both impeached and removed from office due to the Watergate scandal.

So, Donald J. Trump is now added to the list. He will have the label of impeachment attached to his name forever. But, the Senate refused to remove him from office. Even with revelations in the last few days of the Senate trial and shifting narratives from the lawyers charged with protecting Mr. Trump, partisan politics said no to any more witnesses and yes to acquittal.

After 3+ years of watching his behavior, I think it is an easy call to predict he will use the acquittal as a reason to continue acting the way he has. While someone else might take what has happened as a warning to moderate one's behavior, I am sure that is not the take-away for Mr. Trump.

He is likely to be emboldened to step up his attacks on his perceived enemies, use name-calling, political retribution, and Twitter to announce his intentions. He is likely to bend the law in ways that allow him rather free reign to continue to be the most unique occupant of the Oval Office in the last several generations.. An election later this year may result in a change, but even then he will still be in charge for almost another 12 months, until late January of 2021.

Spoiler alert: When I step back and look at what he has actually accomplished at the 80% mark of his first term, I see some things that I view as positives. The recently signed NAFTA replacement trade deal is better. While the tariff war with China has hurt too many Americans economically, something had to be done to get China's attention and have it begin to adjust its behavior. Negotiating with the EU over treatment of American interests has been long overdue. I am sure some of the regulations that has impeded some business development needed adjustments. The economy is strong at the moment and unemployment rates are low.

Of course, in my view, while those are positive accomplishments, they don't make up for the rest of what he done, or allowed to happen in his name. I find much of what he has executed to be shameful and beneath the dignity of the office. However, apparently none of that equals an impeachable offense. Those are the types of behavior that are properly judged at the ballot box, say a majority of Senators.

So, to the key questions: was the time, money, polarization, and further deepening the forces that divide us worth the effort? Did impeachment solve anything? Was it worth it to attach that label to someone? Even when virtually everyone agreed that the Senate was highly unlikely to convict Mr. Trump, was moving forward a good thing anyway?

Did our system work in this case? Even with the outcome a foregone conclusion, was it worth everything we just went through? And, if so, why?



In our hyper political environment is impeachment even a viable option in the future? Does it continue to have value even if it is unlikely to work, or it is more contentious and harmful?

I am interested in your thoughts. Please bypass the obvious attacks on the devil Democrats or callus Republicans. No fake news references, please. No slurs against Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell. This is really a bigger question than this one man, one time in history, or one outcome.

Regardless of your feelings for or against this president, the most important question remains: is the ultimate corrective device in our Constitution still a functioning option if ever needed in the future? It has been triggered three times in our history and ended the same way each time. Is the difficulty in achieving the final sanction a good thing, or a scary thing?



45 comments:

  1. Bob, I will not comment on the partisan tactics of the Democrats throughout the impeachment process, which began before President Trump even took office (yes, the Democrats started talking impeachment before the President even took office, one of the most vile tactics I have seen used in politics in awhile). Nor will I comment on the "open and shut" case the Democrats said they had against the President, but then were begging and pleading the Republicans to actually make their case for them, since they could not credibly do so themselves.

    Rather I will address your question of if the impeachment was worth it. In a nutshell, no. The Democrats have now weaponized the impeachment process to the point that it is largely meaningless. It reminds me of the "nuclear option" Harry Reid and the Democrats utilized in 2013 when they felt that they would be in control of Congress and the Presidency for years, but then found it used against them by the Republicans very quickly when the shoe was on the other foot (of course, that was then deemed "totally unfair" by those same Democrats). Impeachment has now become a partisan tactic used by whichever Party is in control of the House. My comment to the Democrats is to remember the old adage - "What goes around comes around".

    As for the comment that President Trump now has the impeachment label attached to his name, history will pay about as much attention to that as it does to the Andrew Johnson impeachment today. No one really cares quite frankly, particularly in this highly dubious case. And as for the current younger people in this country? They have the attention span of a toaster, so as soon as the new Playstation 5 console is released they won't even remember there was such a thing as a highly partisan attempt at impeachment.

    The President's popularity is at an all time high, the economy is hitting on all cylinders, unemployment is at an all-time low for most minority groups and Americans as a whole, we are inking trade deals that override the horrible ones the Nancy Pelosis and Joe Bidens of the world originally put in place, and the stock market is minting money for pensions and retirement plans. Not a good situation for the Democrats and their followers to be in. And now you have given a very media-savvy President all the soundbites he needs to rally his voter base. Oh, and shredding the SOTU speech the other night by the Speaker of the House, and not standing for individuals like a 100 year old Tuskegee Airman at that same speech? The President says "thanks" to the Democrats for virtually cementing his chances for a second term.

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    1. ChuckY, I agree completely. The impeachment accomplished little but to further divide an already polarized nation. The real legacy of this process is that impeachment may now be considered just another political "tactic" to be used by the majority party in House of Representatives against a president whose policies they oppose.

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    2. Chuck, your comment was exactly what I would have expected: respectful of my request regarding its tone, and strongly supportive of your beliefs without crossing the line.

      Nixon quit before he could be removed from office for a bungled attempt at a burglary of a DNC office. Clinton lied about an affair and suffered impeachment. Trump withheld Congress-approved aid to an ally to try to harm a political foe to influence an election. The first two cases cited seem almost quaint compared to Mr. Trump's ham-handed move to influence an election.

      To criticize the Democrats for not getting all their ducks in a row conveniently ignores the illegal move by the White House to bar all testimonies and ignore all subpoenas. Then, to have Republicans say the process was rushed and lacked enough evidence seems to be the height of irony and disingenuous doubletalk.

      But, if the decision is that Trump's behavior isn't impeachable then you and I are in agreement: nothing will ever reach the bar as it has been set. I believe the House had to do what it did to not completely abandon its Constitutional duty and to attempt to protect that branch of government from becoming completely irrelevant. However, with the outcome not really in question, the effect on the 2020 election will be a positive one for Mr. Trump.

      I agree that, at the moment, his odds of being reelected are good. The Democratic candidates are underwhelming and in disarray and are not offering a coherent message.

      Peter and Rick...thank you for your comments, again within the spirit of the blog and this post.

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  2. I agree with your assessment of the Trump presidency: some positive, mostly negative. I'm afraid that in our overly polarized political arena impeachment will now become a standard weapon of opposition ... or resistance, if you will. Not a good idea.

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    1. As I noted in my response to Chuck above, if Mr. Trump's moves do not reach the level of impeachment then that safeguard is a law without teeth. I read of a GOP Congressman who has already said he will introduce an impeachment resolution on day one against Joe Biden if he is elected. That proves your point perfectly: impeachment is a meaningless political tool that has been rendered useless.

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  3. There are some tough classrooms out there. If a teacher throws a kid out over and over, the kid will find a different group to work with (whether they like them or not). Often that "hate" of the kid turns expensive in incarceration or even death. If a teacher learns to work with "that kid", they can get a lot done (and the kid may find the right path). I learned that the hard way about my sixth year of teaching.
    My thoughts are that Nancy learned that lesson with Clinton. Hate (Distaste, intolerance, what ever you want to put it) of the person is not the way to run anything- and often empowers the person you shed that hate on. She felt it was a waste of time and money. They were finally getting stuff through- really mostly Democrat issues.
    Was it worth it? absolutely not. Now there is a HUGE chance that we will be living with this for four more years. The agenda will be MUCH more conservative because they are the people who supported him. I am a moderate in all things...Not looking forward to THIS pendulum swing. I just hope he still gets us out of the Middle East!
    Nancy should not have let any of them get under her skin. Sad, really.

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    1. I am not sure she felt she had a choice. Her oath of office requires her to enforce the Constitution. There is obvious disagreement about whether attempting to influence an election with foreign interference meets the requirements of the law. But, to protect the separation of powers and her oath, I don't think she could have demurred.

      That said, you are right. It was preordained to fail and that makes the political cost extremely high.

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    2. I understand that is how you see it. As an independent, I don't know one ACTUAL independent that agrees that she should have gone through with it. I know lots of Republicans who feel he was more then justified to call our corruption (their words) in foreign policy. I know lots of Democrats who she had no choice. I just wish we could have gotten a few more of those great Democrat bills through the Senate and signed before it all was closed down. At least we got a few.

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  4. I don’t believe that asking whether impeachment is/was “worth it” should even be a question. It’s the only legal recourse we have to check a President who has committed a crime or is abusing the power of the office of President. As outlined in the Constitution, Congress has oversight over the Executive Branch, and if they believe the President has committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” the only way to hold the President accountable is through impeachment.

    The House of Representatives impeached Trump; the Senate voted to acquit (albeit without allowing any witnesses or other testimony). You may or may not like the results, but it was done as outlined in the Constitution.

    And before anyone argues that this impeachment was done along a party-line vote, back in 1998 one party apparently thought the line for impeachment had been crossed when Clinton lied about a consensual affair. He was impeached, but not convicted in the Senate although there were hours of witness testimony. The charge against Clinton and his subsequent impeachment all seems rather quaint now, as does the Republican outrage back then about allowing witnesses. What Trump was impeached for seems a bit more dangerous than an affair or lying about it, and until his impeachment he had resisted or been free of any sort of oversight from the current Congress.

    In my opinion there are some other things in the Constitution that currently deserve the question “is it worth it?” far more than impeachment (I'm talking about you, Electoral College).

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    1. The Electoral College...yes, a holdover from a very different makeup of the country. It gives ridiculous advantages to thinly populated states. But, that may be a subject for another post.

      Separation of powers is another quaint concept that the last several presidents have gutted. Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama and Trump all expanded executive branch powers to the point of rendering Congress quite toothless. Will that genie be put back into the bottle? I doubt it.

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    2. Until the legislature doesn't have to campaign the entire time they are in office, nothing will get done. Executive and Judiciary will continue to legislate until something happens to our legislative practices of following the re election money....This is where the elite electorate comes from.
      This is where both right and left should join together to move our country forward.

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  5. Was the impeachment worth it? Was the impeachment of Bill Clinton worth it? Ken Starr spent 4 1/2 years and 80 million to investigate Clinton. By comparisons the 3.06 million and few months spent on Trump's impeachment (and 32 million on Mueller’s investigation) was a real bargain. Both men abused their power---one effecting and harming individuals and one effecting and harming our nation. For those who don’t think it was worth to impeach either one of these guys I’d like to ask what was the alternative? When there’s strong accusations of wrong doing, do we just ignore them because it costs too much money and time? If someone reports they saw a neighbor bury a body in his back yard do the police have a choice to ignore it because, well, that’s the mayor’s house? We either believe in striving to live in a moral country where law and order matter, or we don’t. We either believe in the constitution, or we don’t. We either believe in holding our public officials to a certain standard of morality and ethics, or we don’t. Sadly, the impeachment of Trump has proven that half the nation is more than willing to give a president a pass on any wrong doing as long as there is something in for them on a personal level.

    To me, the so called good state of our economy that most people point to regarding Trump’s success is just a slide-of-hand trick. Our national debt is at an all-time high of 23.2 trillion and he’s on track to add another 9.1 trillion this year. When he took office the national debt was 19.9 trillion and he signed a bill to suspend the debt ceiling. Anyone of us could “look” successful if we spend borrowed money like it's water in the ocean but sooner or later it’s going to come crashing down. In the meantime he’s deregulating environmental protections right and left. I won’t go on because you didn’t want your blog question to turn into a bashing one side or the other and I’m crossing that line in this paragraph. Sorry.

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    1. You do raise an interesting point: the "booming" economy is built on borrowed money and massive debt that can never be satisfied. But, that wasn't the question so thank you for putting a quick period on that thought!

      If the answer is let the voters decide, that means any president has a full term to do whatever he or she wants. As long as one side of Congress is of the same party, there will be no more check and balances, or even the threat of control. Whatever the resident of the oval office decides to do, we will live with it until the next election.

      That seems like a very, very risky position to be in. It does not bode well for this form of government.

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    2. Very well said. Wrong doing should not be ignored, especially at the president's level.

      I just wish all of our Senators could've done what they swore a oath to do - be impartial. They should've taken the facts and evidence (ALL of the facts and evidence) and rendered judgment based on all of the relevant truth.

      There is no place for partisanship in an impeachment trial. I think the saddest part of the whole thing was the acceptance of the president's behavior by people that should've been appalled by it. I think it's fueled by their desire to keep Republicans (themselves) in power, and their fear of getting on the president's bad side. As soon as Vindaman and Sondlund were fired I knew that was part of their decision making process, i.e. will I be the next person he moves to take out? Shameful, if you ask me.

      The whole process left me incredibly discouraged and afraid for the trajectory it places the future of our nation on.

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  6. There was talk of impeaching President Trump before he ever took office. This appeared to be a decision looking for a reason (some would say a witch hunt). Was it worth it? Absolutely not. It was a colossal waste of time and money. Rather than doing the business of the country, as they were elected to do, we had this. The Democrats not only didn't prove their case, such as it was, they hurt themselves going forward.

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    1. I agree things turned political very quickly with Mr. Trump. But, you and I disagree whether it was something that had to be done. To protect the Constitution and separation of powers this impeachment was required, even knowing it would fail. If The House didn't move on the evidence then they would have said, whatever the executive branch does is none of our business. Even in a losing cause, sometimes you must stand up for what you believe.

      Did it hurt the Democrats. Yes in the political world, but it was required by their oath of office.

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  7. I think it is important for our elected officials to do the right thing.To pay attention when the law is broken, and to do their duty.I feel the Democrats did this and will go down in history as having paid attention. The republicans fell down on the job and that,too,will go down in history. Trump has proven himself to be a bully who believes he is above the law, and the Senate Republicans have agreed with him.t The next step is for the public to fire their elected officials who hold up such hypocrisy.Will they? One can hope.I will vote.

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    1. And I will as well. Too many, though, are willing to let it pass, and I'm afraid for us all if 'they that let it pass' outnumber us.

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    2. I'm afraid too many of my fellow citizens take a very laissez faire attitude to much of what happens outside their own daily lives. Only when the wolf comes pounding on the door are people even aware they are living in the forest.

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  8. As a left wing radical hippy chick in the extreme, my answer is no. There are SO MANY issues that need to be addressed in this country and I would have preferred that Congress address those, and in some cases they were Trumpian issues that could have been corrected. As one group noted this morning not a single piece of legistation having to do with social justice, helping people, or taking care of Americans was introduced this term, and while that's easy to blame on McConnell, part of that is being so interested in impeachment that everything else gets put to the side. Persoally, I see Trump as being negtive, and am really tired of everyone who defends him using the 'economy card" when many of the new jobs are low paying gig economy type jobs. Having a good economy is nice. but it doesn't justify the rolling back of environental protections, turning refugees in danger way from our borders, or a host of other things. Never mind the fact that the man is blatant racist and sexist. I feel pretty darn strongly that there is a damned good chance the Senate will go Democrat and that's the best hope for controlling a meglo maniac.

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    1. I support the effort to hold the man accountable. It didn't work and everything else went into suspended animation. Even so, to allow wrongdoing to occur with zero consequences is not the way this country is built.

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  9. Impeachment is still a needed and viable option. The Republicans abused it for Clinton and paid the price. The Democrats pursued it with Trump knowing full well they would lose. They will most likely pay the price. There is not a Democratic candidate that can likely pull full support from all of the groups required to beat Trump. By firing up his base we have likely allowed the Reps to continue control of the Senate. Best hope is to maintain the house. That will mean no bills are started that get passed into law and Trump will rule with executive orders and judicial appointments. Kiss the Supreme Court goodbye for a generation. Our best hope is a better candidate in 2024 and the Reps attempt to take a chainsaw to Medicare and Social Security. They have always wanted to do this since the inception of both programs. Maybe the combination would be enough to unite the Democrats. Maybe.
    I sincerely hope I am wrong on all counts.
    Would love to see a full discussion on the Electoral College. At this point in time I cannot possibly see a future that includes a constitutional amendment to remove it.

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    1. A debate about the Electoral College would be like this one: too many political organizations have too much to lose to adjust an outdated system.

      Ruth Ginsberg is an amazing woman, but even she is not likely to continue serving on the Supreme Court for another 5 years. I shudder to think what limitations on women's rights and voting rules will occur.

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  10. I think the system pretty much worked the way it was intended. Even knowing the Senate was never going to remove him, I think it would have been too dangerous for the House to just look the other way just because it was going to hurt the Democrats politically (which it will.) The only precedent I fault the Democrats for setting is allowing a president to ignore subpoenas without fighting that through the courts. I don't think it would have changed the outcome, but I think we've just said: don't worry about those pesky laws, just go ahead and be king.

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    1. The ignoring of subpoenas taught me an important lesson about our legal system: the law can be used to someone's advantage even if that person is clearly breaking the law. Without enforcement powers, a subpoena is just a wish, not a fact. At this time Congress is pretty much a toothless entity.

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  11. Bob, I have a few comments (some in reference to your comments on posts above). I can find ZERO illegal tactics taken by the White House to bar testimonies and ignore subpoenas. We have the division of the three branches of government in order to keep checks and balances in place. Had the House followed the rules by deciding to appeal to the SCOTUS any blocking of testimony/subpoenas by the Executive branch instead of rushing to conviction prior to having all the testimony/documents needed to prove a potential case of "high crimes and misdemeanors", then the House of Reps "MAY" or "May Not" have been able to better prove a case for impeachment that would have had bi-partisan support. I think of the childhood game of telephone when I see the case the House presented. Also, your statement "compared to Mr. Trump's ham-handed move to influence an election" leads me to believe that in your mind he was guilty of "illegal" election interference before the trial actually occurred in the Senate with "hearsay" evidence presented at best. Isn't this type of social media jury one of the biggest issues our country is facing today? What has happened to our values of "innocent until proven guilty"? I can easily look past even my own biased views on this failed impeachment conviction attempt to see that our judiciary processes in this great country are under attack. I see time and again on various social media outlets the vial nature of how people are immediately drawn to a stance of "guilty and nothing you can say will change my mind" regardless of the topic. We, as a society, are gullible. We believe way too much info that is partially correct, missing key information, or exaggerated by media outlets trying to garner ratings, political parties trying to garner more power, and the fringes of society trying to not be marginalized than we should be listening to or reading about. We naturally gravitate towards people who believe like we might believe and therefore get encapsulated into our "bubbles" and have a hard time exploring other perspectives as a result. Impeachment, as so many so called scholars state, is and has always been a political process. I believe we may have had an inflated expectation that impeachment would be used for a more noble cause of addressing what a court of law would call a high crime or misdemeanor instead of what it has thus far been used for in general terms; to enact political retribution on one's political rivals. I don't blame the Dems any more than I blame the Repubs for this situation. The whole Clinton impeachment was a political attack as has been the Trump impeachment. I try to see the positives in all presidents regardless of my like or dislike for their policy positions. Trump was elected to be a disruptor towards the Washington establishment and one thing I think many of us can agree on whether we agree with his policies or not is that he has met that expectation. As for other comments about the Electoral College and other great aspects of our constitution, I look forward to those topics. Thanks again for your openness.

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    1. While I disagree with you (as you well know!), I am thankful for your addition to these comments.

      I believe Trump either allowed, encouraged or knew of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was attempting the same thing for 2020, except this time he did it out in the open, knowing he could get away with it.

      The testimony that was allowed was damming and irrefutable. It was not hearsay. Of course, one of the people with a "smoking gun" perspective, John Bolton, was unable to testify. Anything in his book will now be seen as that of a disgruntled ex-employee who can say whatever he likes without it being checked in a public setting.

      Trump has been a disruptor in many many ways, some for good. But using the office of the president to enrich oneself, to allow the deficit to explode, to expand the personal power he wields, and to push through laws that hurt the environment, the poor and the middle class, or attack the policies of states that he dislikes (California and New York, for example) is not acceptable behavior in a president reagless of party.

      If I look at what the Republican party is supposed to stand for, Trump is a RINO. But, that seems to be OK.

      Again, Dan, thanks for being here.

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  12. I completely disagree that this was an impeachable offense. Of course he would have liked to pressure for an investigation using aid as leverage. He almost surely discussed it in what he considered private conversations. Perhaps he even delayed the aid with that in mind. But the aid was paid and there was no investigation and Zelensky says there was no pressure and the phone call does not show any suggestion of a quid pro quo. You should not be impeached for what you thought about doing but didn't. Nothing occurred and there were no repercussions. You might want to claim that Disney trip as a business expense. You might even talk it over with your accountant. He might have to talk you out of it. But in the end if you don't do it, you are not tax cheat. It should take a lot more than that to remove a president....even this President.
    I didn't vote for Trump in 2016 and I would never have imagined that I would vote for him in 2020. But I am so fed up with Democrats for so many reasons (not just this impeachment fiasco) that I am considering voting a straight Republican ticket this time around. I suspect there are many more like me.

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    1. I think his Ukrainian "pressure" was a purely political and personal power play, and that makes it illegal. If breaking the law or using the office for your own gain, isn't an impeachable offense, what is?

      That brings us back to the original question: is impeachment a viable option going forward? Based on the Clinton and Trump examples, I would think not.

      Thanks, Judy. BTW, I took a long Disney trip last year...let me see what Turbo Tax says!

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  13. Like many of the commenters above, I think impeachment has become a political tool and lost its teeth. That said, I don't think the Congress had much choice given the details of what they uncovered. Nancy Pelosi held off as long as she could, but at some point, you just have to move forward even if it disadvantages your party.

    The thing that bothers me most about this whole situation is that our intelligence agencies have stated unequivocally that Russia interfered in our elections, and I don't see much effort being made to combat that situation for this year's elections. That fact that half the country seems to believe it's "fake news" and Trump doesn't want to confirm it because it makes him feel illegitimate is beyond discouraging. It's creating a real sense of "who can we trust" and I think it will be really detrimental to turnout. Leaves me to wonder if the grand experiment in democracy is eventually going to fail. I surely hope not.

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    1. If impeachment is no longer a workable option, what is to prevent presidents from becoming lifelong autocrats? Trump's lawyers have argued that a sitting president is immune to all laws, both civil and criminal while in office. Unless the Supreme Court rules against that argument and it is followed (not a foregone conclusion), then the door has been thrown wide open to a one-person rule, making Congress and most courts simple window-dressing.

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  14. Bring two reasonable functioning candidates to the election. Unless there are other choices provided there may be a repeat of last time. I suspect many of the votes for him were actually votes against Clinton.

    Until there is a viable candidate that can reach across parties, I am sad to say that many will feel they can’t vote for those “options” and will either under vote, vote for someone that does not have a chance to win, or will be left with Trump as an option.

    The parties have brought a lot of this on themselves over the years. A middle of the ground sane candidate is who would have the best chance in 2020 and I have not really seen that to this point.

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    1. The Democratic party has no single vision, making developing a strong candidate with universal support very difficult. The Republican party is solid in its toeing a tightly focused direction, with staying in power its only real motivation. Remember the good old days when the GOP was against deficits? Now, doing whatever it takes to win is the focus.

      Having a candidate from either party who is a center-of-the-road moderate who can work with both sides of the aisle seems to be a pipe dream. With both parties moving to the hard right or left, a moderate has too few people with which to build a compromise. Sad.

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  15. I'm always looking for good role models but these days they are hard to find. Honesty and integrity are strong values of mine and I admire what Romney, Vindman and others did. They showed courage and I'm just happy to see people like that are still around. It gives me hope.

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    1. I just keep wondering what is the tipping point when the good people in Washington (who are the vast majority) just say, enough is enough, and walk out the door. The government cannot run when all the faceless people who do all the real work get so fed up they quit. That is where the real power rests, and no it isn't a "Deep State." It is decent people who can't abide evil.

      I must believe that not everyone has sold their souls for the temporary power that they hold now. I know it is a cliche, but how do they sleep and what do they tell their children and grandchildren?

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    2. I totally agree with you Bob how can you look in the mirror in the morning? I was losing faith fast but thank goodness there are still some good people around. It reminded me of how sometimes I was scared at work and would not say anything when I knew someone was wrong. I failed the test more than once to survive and keep my job and it still bothers me to this day.

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  16. The good people in Washington that actually keep everything working have one thing in common. They need the income. We are not talking about wealthy congressmen that can do as they choose. The civil servants are building their retirements and paying bills. They will never quit and walk out due to who is in charge. Economic needs will always win out. Social conscience is a luxury.

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    1. You are likely correct, but that is sad. Maybe a slowdown would work (and no jokes about how slow bureaucrats are all the time).

      I notice that the 4 DOJ prosecutors in the Roger Stone case quit today after having their bosses react to Trump's twitter rant about the recommended sentence. Good for them.

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  17. Bob, I'm on the fence about whether impeachment was a worthwhile exercise. Even without a conviction in the Senate, in the past, impeachment has been a way to label a President's behavior as crossing a line and needing to be corrected. The difference in this case is Donald Trump's personality. I don't know how Andrew Johnson reacted to being impeached and his subsequent acquittal in the Senate. I do know that Bill Clinton's statement after his acquittal began with an apology to the American people for his inappropriate behavior. President Trump has reacted as he reacts to most criticism, by claiming to be completely in the right and by ramping up his problematic behavior. I think it's useful to remember, however, that impeachment is not the only remedy for inappropriate behavior available to the Congress. Either house can also move to censure a president, which is a formal resolution that clearly defines certain actions and behaviors as inappropriate and unacceptable, but without the punishment of removal from office. I am wondering whether that would be a worthwhile effort in this case. (I don't see any other way that this President will get the message.) To be effective, however, a censure would have to be bipartisan and supported by an overwhelming majority; and I don't know if that is possible in our current partisan environment. I'm thinking about writing to my Senator, Susan Collins, and suggesting that Republicans who stated that they didn't support impeachment because, while they considered the President's behavior inappropriate, they thought removal from office was a disproportionate response should take the lead in initiating a Censure motion.

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    1. In normal circumstances with a normal person, a censure would be a powerful statement. At this point, however, I am afraid it would look like sour grapes unless the Republicans initiated it.

      If you write to Senator Collins you might ask why she thought impeachment would cause Mr. Trump to change his behavior. Considering the last 3 years that seems either silly or disingenuous on her part.

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  18. We here in Canada have been interested observers of the situation to our south. I, and most others I have spoken to, would definitely hold the position that the Democrats had no choice but to defend the constitution against the President's attacks on it. But then even our Conservative party would likely be viewed as being left of your moderate Democrats.

    Just a quick civics lesson. We do not have an impeachment process here, but we do have a way to potentially remove a Prime Minister from office before the next regularly-scheduled election. We have a multi-party system, with five parties and one independent currently holding seats in parliament. In the case of a minority government (that is, the ruling party holds the most seats, but fewer than the other parties combined), a "non-confidence motion" may be put forward, meaning that the opposition parties do not feel that the government is acting in good faith for the benefit of the country. One might think that that would happen after every election, but in fact it has happened 6 times in Canadian history, most recently in 2011. If that motion passes, the Prime Minister must submit their resignation to the Governor General, who then either asks another party to form the government or (more often) calls another general election. This has resulted in Prime Ministerial terms of as short as 3 months, but does allow the people to make the choice to either turf that person out or re-elect them without being stuck for four or five years. I suppose a non-confidence motion could also be put forward in a majority government situation (in which the ruling party holds more seats than the other parties combined), but it presumably would never pass.

    Just another perspective and process.

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    1. That is interesting. I have read about the no-confidence situation but didn't understand what triggered it or what happened next.

      Thanks, Dan. Government is never simple, is it!

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