The United States of America is clearly divided. Will one of the key constitutional checks and balance procedures that are now in play, impeachment, heal or increase the division? Will the gamble pay off to remove Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, from office or so wound him so he won’t be re-elected in 2020 or will the gamble backfire and help re-elect him?
I will be following this closely with a series of columns, especially in terms of how impeachment will impact Thurgood Marshall’s defense of the First Amendment to support the goals of reversing the ill-considered laws that still remain that support racism and segregation in American institutions, governments, and neighborhoods. What will impeachment do for the continuing or lessening of violence in Black neighborhoods? How about education? Jobs? Wages? Health care?
Is this high stakes “impeachment inquiry” gamble dumb or brilliant? While there have been demands for the impeachment of most presidents, it has reached the level of taking action only four times. Two presidents were actually impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1867 and Bill Clinton in 1998, but both were acquitted by the U.S. Senate and not removed from office.
Richard Nixon had articles of impeachment filed but resigned in 1974 before the debate in the House began.
Impeaching Johnson, Nixon and Clinton had bipartisan support. So far, there is no bipartisan support in the Senate or in public opinion polls, to impeach Trump. Impeachment is a political move, and is, as Gerald Ford stated regarding Nixon, “anything Congress says it is.”
The actions of current members of the House of Representatives reminds me of a group of nursery school children. A lot of bluster. A lot of subpoenas. A lot of committee meetings.
According to the leadership of the Democratic Party, the impeachment inquiry will become articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving 2019. Unfortunately for the majority of Americans, no matter how educated they think they are, they do not understand the arduous task of preparing articles of impeachment, getting them passed, and then obtaining a conviction in the Senate for removal.
If there is a Senate trial of President Trump, it will be presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The prosecutors (called managers), will be members of the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives, who must make their arguments before their congressional members in the United States Senate.
People would be well-advised to read and study the trial documents of the two failed attempts, the one to convict Andrew Johnson in the 19th century and Clinton in the 20th century, for insights regarding impeaching Trump in the 21st century.
These 21st-century impeachment proceedings will do wonders for television ratings. People will be glued to their various screens and radios. Note that the Senate majority leader can suspend the proceedings until a later date at any time, under the rules which would be drafted by the Senate majority (Republicans).
This will be quite a show, in all of its televised and internet glory. But it won’t be easy to remove Trump from office. We are on a dangerous road. How will America, a truly divided nation at war with itself, heal itself?
Democratic leaders, after the Mueller report exonerated the collusion charge against Trump, now feel the “whistleblower” complaint will enable a successful impeachment that will change the course of American history. But in what way? How will both sides, in Trump’s words, use being “locked and loaded? Will their ambitious quest for recognition and glory serve the best interests of the republic?
Ron Edwards is an author and hosts radio and TV shows.