January 27, 2021

Are the Democrats pursuing impeachment of Donald Trump because they believe it will fail?

The Democratic impeachment is an opportunity for them to actively express their outrage against Trump’s incitement of the Capitol riot. Trump’s second puts Trump in a category of shame all by himself. But are the Democrats y really interested in a conviction?

Yesterday, 90% Republican Senators expressed belief that impeachment of a President after he has vacated office is unconstitutional. They may be correct. The Constitution reads: When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present. Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States. The phrase, “when the President of the U.S. is tried,” does imply that the person on trial must actually be the President. It also states that the Chief Justice is to preside. The fact that the  Chief Justice has chosen not to preside suggests that he sees the Senate trial as something other than Constitutional impeachment. Thirdly, the first purpose listed is the removal of the President, which is impossible in this case.

The Democrats didn’t have to impeach Trump. They could have invoked the 14th Amendment, which was put in place after the Civil War to bar high Southern officials and military officers from taking federal office. Using this method, they could eliminated Trump from U.S. politics with only a majority vote in Congress—something they certainly can deliver. 

But the Democrats have bigger plans for Donald Trump. Bringing Trump to trial lets the Democrats have their cake and eat it, too. They can express public of dismay, while letting the Republicans take the heat for giving Mr. Trump new political life. Donald Trump can stand up and say, “See? I’ve been vindicated again!”

But why would the Democrats want Donald Trump to be acquitted? Because Donald Trump provides two very important benefits to them. The first is that he helps unite the fractious Democratic party. Donald Trump is the classic common enemy. He supplies the external distraction that limits internal party bickering. The second is that he divides the Republicans. It’s not just Mitt Romney at odds with Trump any more. Mike Pence has had enough, so have Senators Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania). It’s safe to say Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, has had his fill, as well. If the Senate trial provides enough testimony from Capitol rioters that they felt inspired or coerced by Trump into rioting, or other evidence is brought forward about Trump tampering with the election, more Senate Republicans may feel bound to defect from Trump. 

Trump cannot get elected in 2024 for various reasons. First of all, he now embodies one of his own favorite epithets of shame: “loser”. Can he escape his own condemnation? Can he pretend any longer to be invincible? The second problem for him is that in four years he will be 78. That’s the age of Biden, yes, but is there anyone comfortable with Biden’s advanced age? Should Biden die while in office—a seeming likelihood—this will only give future voters pause about electing a person of his age to this highly stressful position. The third reason is that Trump is going to experience a stressful four years of his own (assuming he lives four years). Trump is involved in numerous legal suits. He was protected while President. That protection is over. Additionally, numerous businesses are distancing themselves from him, not wanting to be associated with the man who is generally considered to have threatened the democratic stability of the United States. His finances are going to take a hard hit. The fourth reason is that there is a significant portion of Republican and independent voters who will never again vote for Donald Trump. 

Is there risk that the Republicans will see through all this and vote to convict Trump? I think so but, then, the Democrats still can look to the Supreme Court to overrule the entire process as unconstitutional. It’s a conservative court, three of whom were nominated to the position by Trump. Such a ruling seems likely. 

The Democrats would like to see Donald Trump in the political spotlight as long as possible. If he becomes the Republican candidate for President, great. He he breaks off and forms his own Patriot party, even better. Trump presents the Democrat’s best hope for 2024. 

They have their own problems, of course. Will Biden survive four years? If he does, will he at 82 be capable of carrying on? Will he be electable? Will Kamala Harris be able to carry a national election? Being a Kappa Alpha Kappa seems rather elitist for someone supposedly representing the Left. Being a “9:30” liberal makes her disliked by the Right and the Center. The Democrats have a real succession problem.

But the Republicans have more than a succession problem—they have Donald Trump. Their only hope is to jettison him completely, first by joining the Democrats in convicting him in the Senate. The Supreme Court may still give Trump life, at which point the Republican problem will continue. They will have to use their business connections and call in a lot of favors to insure that Trump’s life, post-Presidency, is full of conflict, failed business ventures, and negative propaganda. They effectively must get him out of the public eye within the next two years, while the Democrats will do all they can to preserve him. Kevin Williamson in NationalReview.com commented: “Republicans who are clinging to Trump are making a titanic mistake, and I am rooting for the iceberg.”

The GOP “faces a choice”, said Republican Senator, Ben Sasse, in The atlantic.com. We can “repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire” or we can be “a party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them.” 

I don’t know if he’s running but I hope he does. Ben Sasse for President in 2024.