It’s all about the Republicans

President Trump is literally undermining our democracy every single day.  Even if there are not Republican votes to remove him, I think an impeachment is warranted as it seems he really does believe that he is completely above the law.  And as long as Republicans back him up no matter what, he basically is above the law.  Safe to say, that’s no way to run a democracy.  Great Bernstein daily column on  the dynamics of this today:

I was going to write today about how House Democrats are handling the impeachment question. But the truth is, it’s largely irrelevant. As long as Republicans are united in opposition, President Donald Trump will stay in office. That’s not to say that there aren’t bad and worse choices for Democrats, but they’re not the ones who have the real decision to make. 

Because the truth at this point is pretty obvious: If they could be assured of even a smattering of Republican votes, Democrats would almost certainly impeach the president. If they had enough votes to ensure his removal in the Senate, you could remove that “almost” – Trump would be gone very rapidly. It’s all up to the Republicans. [emphases mine]

We still have only limited information about the emerging whistleblower scandal. But we do know (from what Rudy Giuliani has bragged about) that the president’s lawyer has pressed another country to investigate a Democratic candidate for alleged corruption. That’s on top of the original Trump campaign’s dozens of contacts with a nation attacking U.S. democracy; several documented instances of the president obstructing the investigation of that attack; violations of the emoluments clauses of the Constitution and regular use of government resources to enrich the president’s businesses; and assertions of invented presidential privileges to prevent congressional oversight.

Republicans have been okay with all this, presumably because they’re getting what they want on policy. Or perhaps out of pure partisanship. Or maybe because they’re so deep in the conservative information-feedback loop that they’ve convinced themselves none of it is real. But they should be taking stock now of just how much lawlessness they’re willing to tolerate. At this point, it looks like the whistleblower’s story involves Trump attempting to offer U.S. policy favors to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

I’ve said all along that there’s a middle ground where the evidence may justify impeachment and removal of the president, but not demand it. Well, the evidence has long since established that impeachment is justified. Now we’re tiptoeing up to the line where it demands removal. At some point, we may wind up clearly over that line by any reasonable definition. If Republicans choose to stick with Trump then, he’ll correctly conclude that he’s above the law. 

Democrats can’t do much about this by themselves. Sure, they can attempt to convince the public that Trump’s actions demonstrate that he’s unfit for office, and it’s reasonable to consider every method of doing so, including a partisan impeachment ending in a party-line acquittal in the Senate. They should also continue their investigations, even though much of the case against Trump has been public from the beginning.

But we know how public opinion works. As long as Republicans choose to stay relatively united, either in denying evidence of Trump’s malfeasance or claiming that there’s nothing wrong with it, then Democrats will be unable to generate enough constituent pressure to change their minds. Whatever evidence is turned up, Republicans probably can brazen it out if that’s what they really want, regardless of the damage it does to U.S. democracy. So that leaves one question for them: Is this really what you want? 

The truth is most politicians put party above country on a fairly regular basis.  What we’re seeing now, though, is a Republican party consistently and dramatically placing party and self-serving political calculation over country to a degree we assuredly have not seen in my lifetime.  And that sucks for everybody.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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