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?