Elections matter. So do impeachments, apparently.
Impeachment of presidents is extremely rare (there have only been three impeachment proceedings in U.S. history before now, and only two actual impeachments. Both trials acquitted the president).
Still, we’re in the thick of an impeachment proceeding today. This one bears no resemblance to the prior cases. Those impeachment proceedings (1868, 1973, 1998) reflected deep political differences, but they were guided by due process of law. Both sides could call witnesses, confront witnesses and cross-examine testimony and the proceedings were held in public.
This time, only the Democrats can call witnesses, there is no effective cross-examination (Republican questions have been shut down and witnesses have been ordered not to answer) and the proceedings are held secretly. The witness who started the entire process (a so-called “whistleblower”) has so far not been identified by mainstream media (his name is easy to find on the web) and has refused to come forward.
The impeachment charges related to Ukraine are not impeachable offenses. What’s wrong with a president demanding an investigation of alleged criminal behavior before U.S. taxpayer dollars are handed over?
In short, the impeachment process today is a farce. That doesn’t mean Trump won’t be impeached (he probably will be), but the process will only enrage Trump supporters and increase 2020 turnout to his benefit.
That’s not the only effect. According to this article, the backlash will extend down ticket to help win back Republican seats lost in 2018 and regain control of the House of Representatives for Republicans.
The most vulnerable Democrats are those who won in districts that Trump won by 10 points or more in 2016. Voters in those districts elected Democrats in 2018 to deal with health care and prescription drug costs. They were not elected to impeach the president on bogus charges.
The damage to Democrats may go even deeper than just these vulnerable seats. We’ll see what happens in 2020, but as of now, impeachment will be a boomerang that hits Democrats hard in the end.
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