Notes On Impeachment

Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons under a CC-by-SA 2.0 license.

I’ve actively been trying to avoid the news on this, but it’s been inescapable. There’s a lot of spin going on. Most of the media coverage is spent making the process seem more dramatic than it really is. Here’s some stuff to keep in mind as you’re told your [favorite/least favorite] President is going to be forced out of office.

Why this is happening.
Generally, impeachment is a political process here in the States (more information here). Without getting bogged down by details and legalese (you can read the linked Wikipedia article for that), this means the House votes on impeachment by a simple majority of whoever’s there that day. As long as the House can do business, it can impeach someone if the majority wants to. The people doing it are elected politicians. And since there’s a record of who voted for what, it means there are political consequences.

Specific to Trump, the House is looking into whether Trump abused the office of the President. House Democrats are taking the position that he did, while House Republicans are taking a contrary position. Think of it like a grand jury. It’s not a trial. Instead, it’s a bunch of people trying to say something important happened or didn’t happen.

Why the hearings are so public.
Because it’s a political process, every Representative needs something to tell voters. Voters need to see what’s going on. When everyone votes in a year, they’re going to play whatever soundbites they get from all this coverage. As you’ve probably guessed already, Republicans want a reason to vote against impeachment. Democrats want a reason to vote for it. If voters think the reasons are bullshit, you can expect them to vote for an opposing candidate.

What happens if the House impeaches.
Since it’s easy to approve Articles of Impeachment, the Democrats hold a majority in the House, and none of them like Trump very much, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that the House impeaches. If that happens, the Senate gets to have its own little circus. The Chief Justice gets to hang out in the Senate and be a real judge. Senators get to be the world’s loudest and most obnoxious jurors. They all get to sit and decide whether the President gets removed from office.

But it takes 2/3 of them to do it.

Right now, it’s not likely that the Senate would convict. There are more Republicans than Democrats in the Senate. Also, there’s not enough evidence to sway GOP Senators to convict Trump. Remember: Senators have to care about voter perception, not the actual charges themselves.

Bottom line, impeachment is an unpopularity contest.
There are no matters of principle here. It’s a case of someone saying Trump did something so bad he can’t be President anymore. Most people have already made up their mind about it. There’s enough testimony to justify anyone’s position on the matter. The only thing that matters is perception.

So if you’re cynical like me, you can sit back, relax, and actively ignore the whole thing. It’s basically our response to Brexit. Yeah, something big could happen, but after November 2020 it won’t matter.

10 thoughts on “Notes On Impeachment

    • Except this isn’t the worst way he’s endangered US or EU security during his term. He’s openly criticized the EU and questioned the necessity of NATO. His mishandling of Syria is – in its most charitable light – is grossly inept. And his complete abdication of responsibility in light of documented election interference by Russia is the cherry on his shit cake.

      All of what I just mentioned could and (if Congress was acting on principle) should have been impeachable offenses. The call on 25 July isn’t even in his top 10 of public reasons why he shouldn’t be in office. The Mueller Report all but said, “This guy attempted to break the law [which are felonies] while in office.”

      Sorry for the long reply, but this is the tip of the iceberg of why I’m cynical about all of this. Pick a principle of why he should be impeached, and I can almost guarantee several better reasons he already should have been impeached for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Except this isn’t the worst way he’s endangered US or EU security during his term.

        You’re absolutely right. Everything the man has done, right down to an extra $3 trillion in debt, is threatening the world. Pulling out of the TPP was sheer madness. Pulling out of the Iran deal was insanity. Pulling out of the Paris Accord was a death wish. He’s nothing but a wrecking ball, and as you say, should have been impeached long before now.

        I’m absolutely astounded that he still has support. It’s frightening to think people can be *that* ignorant.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I live with two people who are basically angry that impeachment is even happening. They are in denial. It’s disheartening.

        I need to ask them if my grandparents were like this when Nixon was getting investigated. Maybe that might get them some perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Being mad at themselves”

        That’s quite perceptive.

        People don’t take the time to really appreciate what we have these days. Just yesterday, our fridge’s motherboard burnt out. 24hrs without a fridge as a good punch in the face. Now think about plumbing/hot water/healthcare (USA excluded 🙂 )/education. True, we should never be complacent, but we’re doing ourselves a disservice by not acknowledging that our last 6 or so generations have been a UNIVERSE better than the 6,600 that came before.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I must say unlike John, I find this post quite hilarious. In fact, it got me laughing in so many places. And yes, I will sit back and wait for Robert to do an update on the impeachment proceedings and once in a while to watch John Oliver

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Re “Yeah, something big could happen, but after November 2020 it won’t matter.” Nope.If Trump were impeached and convicted in the Senate, then he would not be on the ballot in 2020. If He were impeached and then re-elected in November, then with changes in the Senate he were convicted, whoever was vice president would be the new president.

    So, lots can happen, although many of these scenarios are unlikely at best.

    Now Brexit … Brexit … what a bloody mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If anyone could force a constitutional crisis after impeachment, it would be Trump. Impeachment and conviction doesn’t automatically disqualify him from running for office again. The ensuing media frenzy is something he’d enjoy, I’d imagine.

      Likewise, if the Senate shifted to a 67-seat Democratic majority in one election, that election wouldn’t produce a Trump presidency. Even if it was a major blue shift, it wouldn’t produce a Trump presidency.

      Third, I recognize I’m being hyper-cynical here. But in all fairness, Trump’s presidency has spawned one constitutional crisis after another. Congress won’t defend its own turf. The GOP can’t be counted on to do the right thing – even when its in its own best interest.

      And I feel terrible for the UK, who has to deal with its own garbage leader. Brexit has punished the EU for no good reason. But that’s a whole other rant.

      Like

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