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Weekend Conversations – The Second House Impeachment of President Trump

In this installment of Weekend Conversation, PF Whalen and Parker Beauregard of The Blue State Conservative lament the state of the country where every political grievance against conservatives moves toward impeachment. 

Parker: There are a few SNL skits from the early 2000s featuring Will Ferrell as the late Alex Trebek. In one of his many comedic exchanges with Norm McDonald’s Burt Reynolds, a clearly exasperated Trebek deadpans the phrase “simply stunning.” That’s where I am at with House Democrats. In comedy, the routine is funny; in life, it’s simply tragic.

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I am not surprised we find ourselves here. In the past four years, Democrats have explored and acted upon every conceivable plot to usurp Trump’s power. There is no insurgence, overthrow, or coup too absurd if it means acquiring power. It is not an understatement to say that this derangement has utterly and totally consumed them. Have they acknowledged any greatness, such as peace in the Middle East or with North Korea? They build up the fact that he threatens war with Iran and Kim Jong Un, and then never walk back their inflammatory rhetoric when it is provably false. Have they introduced any meaningful legislation in this same time frame? Pelosi can apparently prepare articles of impeachment in a matter of hours but drags her feet for six months when it comes to COVID relief. 

The great irony in all of this is that it reflects the pure hypocrisy of the charge that Donald Trump stomps on the Constitution. Donald Trump was, despite likely efforts to undermine the free and fair democratic process, duly elected President in 2016. State governors certified election results, the electors convened to cast their votes, and Congress met to ratify the will of the people. Case closed? Hardly. In his four years in office, President Trump was referred to by many as “not my president” or, as others like John Lewis put it, “illegitimate.”

PF: To be clear, I oppose much of what President Trump said during the rally in Washington D.C. on January 6th and his rhetoric leading up to it. While there’s clear evidence of voting irregularities and potential voter fraud in multiple states, none of it made it to the level that supported the overturning of any states’ votes, let alone three states which is what Trump would have needed to reverse the overall election results. 

For the president to claim that not only was the election stolen, but in fact he truly won the election in a landslide is irresponsible. He didn’t. But irresponsibility doesn’t equal “incitement” or “insurrection,” which is what the impeachment article asserts. During his speech at the rally that day, Trump suggested attendees “patriotically and peacefully make your voices heard.” Those aren’t the words of someone inciting a riot, regardless of what opportunistic Democrats might claim.

To impeach the president on such grounds serves two purposes: emotion and politics. From an emotional standpoint, the hatred that evolved into Trump Derangement Syndrome has afflicted the left since the president entered politics. They despise the man, and impeaching him for a second time gives them the opportunity to humiliate him. They also despise those of us who voted for him. It’s appalling, and it’s clearly one of the motivators behind the Democrats’ actions. 

As for politics, Democrats clearly see the events of January 6th as a chance to lump all Republicans together with the rioters and assign guilt-by-association. They want public opinion to be as follows: It wasn’t just the rioters who are responsible, it is President Trump and anyone who supports or voted for him. By impeaching President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has forced Representatives to go on the record and either support Trump or support his impeachment. Similarly, Senators will be forced to do the same after the Senate trial is finished, and we should expect to see those votes used in campaign ads against them down the road.

Parker: The Capitol Riots (do they have a name?) will be a stain on conservatism for some time, I fear. The left, simply from a political standpoint, is rightfully capitalizing on the momentum. It is up to Americans to see through the smoke and mirrors. 

This impeachment has been sought since before Trump was inaugurated, so I do not buy the superficial claim that he’s such a danger as to require his removal with just a few days left in office. The same Trump leaving on January 20th of this year is the same Trump we’ve had since January 20th from four years ago. Like you said, it is more about forcefully positioning Republicans and the public narrative than it is removing a president. Here is my proof: The Washington Post ran a headline on January 20th, 2017 (his inauguration) declaring that “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.” Does this sound like they needed another excuse to go for it?

This second impeachment, which is being billed as unprecedented (no one has ever been impeached twice before!) is a media sham and nothing more than political maneuvering. The first impeachment was literally based on actions undertaken by incoming-President Joe Biden. The House couldn’t even present a coherent argument for why the impeachment was with cause; it appropriately broke along party lines. People – the media, politicians, the gullible public – all believe this impeachment is different, but it simply isn’t. It’s an excuse to go after Trump one more time. Just add it to the list.

PF: Giving the Legislative Branch the option of removing a tyrannical and law-breaking President from the Executive Branch is supposed to be the primary purpose of impeachment. That’s why its provision is included in the Constitution. It’s already been decided by current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that a trial in the Senate won’t start until after Trump has left office. Therefore, as a practical matter, even if the Senate has a two-thirds majority that votes in favor of impeachment – which is highly unlikely – the only relevant achievement will be the prevention of Trump from running for office again; nothing else. Is that the primary motivator for Democrats? Nope, it’s politics.

President Trump’s approval rating has plummeted to only 33%, meaning two-thirds of Americans have either a negative or neutral view of him. Only three months ago he was hovering around 50%. In my view, Democrats are truly misplaying their hand with impeachment, and I’m thoroughly surprised. If they were smart, they would back off of impeachment and settle for censuring the president. They would succeed in embarrassing Trump, which is clearly another motivator for them, but they could simultaneously claim they’re taking the high road in an effort towards unity. It’s obvious the Democrats are insincere with their rhetoric regarding national healing, but this would be a good opportunity for them to strengthen their façade and convince naïve, independent voters that the rhetoric is genuine. 

For Republicans, they must recognize political reality and the lousy hand they’re holding, and that mindset needs to start with President Trump. Trump has already switched to a more conciliatory tone and has reportedly admitted to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that he indeed deserves some blame for the riots. That’s a good start. For GOP lawmakers, ten House members voted in favor of impeachment and many of them were attacked by fellow Republicans, and we don’t need that sort of division. Senators and Representatives should vote their conscience and how they see fit, but they need to refrain from infighting. Let the procedures play out, keep your integrity, but lower the internal temperature within the party. And then move forward as quickly as possible.

Parker: I don’t hold most politicians in high esteem. If Republicans want to join the unthinkable impeachment process, then that’s on them. It’s now on their constituents to hold them accountable. Regardless, like we saw last week in the Capitol riot, there is a breaking point for the American conservative community. Most Americans want to be left alone; they want to think for themselves, act in their best interest (or not, as is their right), and pursue happiness as they define (not as the left defines it). We have followed the rules for so long, and the only thing we have gotten out of it is censorship, ostracization, and loss of rights.

I am not interested in keeping the high ground at this point. I am past playing nice with the bully on the playground. There is peace through strength. Moving forward, I want to see conservatives make Democrats taste their own medicine. I don’t think impeaching Biden is a perfect solution, per se, because Kamala Harris will go from shadow president to visible president, but there needs to be strong messaging that in effect says “whatever you do to us, we will do to you.” A freshman Congresswoman is apparently planning to introduce articles on impeachment against Joe Biden on January 21st based on his and Hunter’s dealings. Good for her. 

PF: One question that looms large for me – what becomes of the overall impeachment process moving forward? During the first 200+ years of our republic, there was only one president (Andrew Johnson) who had been impeached. Now, in the past 23 years it’s happened three times. Is impeachment the new normal? Whenever one party is pissed off at a president, should we expect him or her to be impeached for being arrogant, or brash, or orange?

It’s been over fifty years since a constitutional amendment was introduced and passed (the 26th amendment was introduced in the late-1960s, the 27th amendment was actually introduced in 1789 along with the rest of the Bill of Rights), and I’ve considered the likelihood of seeing another one in my lifetime as highly unlikely. But an amendment clarifying the standards of impeachment could have widespread support. Currently, there are no standards. The qualification of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is extraordinarily vague for a process that’s so critical. A reasonable, specific proposal on what qualifies as impeachable could gain widespread, bipartisan support, and it could be possible to get a super-majority of states to pass it. Will it happen? Probably not, but even Democrats in deep blue states that remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton could get behind such a movement, I believe.

You mentioned a significant problem with a potential impeachment of Joe Biden. If Congress boots good ole’ Joe, we’ve got Cackling Kamala waiting in the wings, so maybe we should pump the brakes if Republicans take congressional control in 2022 and an opportunity presents itself. But even if that wasn’t the case, lawmakers should tread lightly. Impeachment, in my opinion, should be limited to only the most egregious and damaging crimes. It may ultimately turn out that the election of Joe Biden was indeed the result of widespread voter fraud and illegal election processes, but there has been nowhere close to the amount of evidence needed to prove that’s the case. Therefore, we have to move forward accepting that Biden, like Trump, was duly elected. If it turns out, however, that Biden was benefiting financially from his son Hunter’s nefarious dealings with China and Eastern-Europeans, all bets are off. 

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash