Opinion: House Democrats are too obsessed with impeaching President Trump at any cost. They’re wrong to do it alone.
An investigation and subsequent vote to impeach a duly elected president of the United States could very well be one of the most difficult processes our country could initiate, experience and endure.
In fact, only three presidents in our history faced impeachment proceedings, and only Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were actually impeached. Richard Nixon resigned prior to being impeached.
But the contrast between how the House of Representatives conducted itself in 1974 and 2019 are striking. In both cases, the House was controlled by Democrats impeaching a Republican president.
Nixon’s inquiry looked far different
In February 1973, after the Watergate break-in participants were found guilty, the Senate voted 77-0 to begin an investigation into what Nixon knew and when he knew it. A year later, the House was ready to begin impeachment. The vote to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to begin the impeachment inquiry was 410-4.
Democrat Peter Rodino, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, famously said, “Whatever the result, whatever we learn or conclude, let us now proceed with such care and decency and thoroughness and honor that the vast majority of the American people, and their children after them, will say: This was the right course. There was no other way.”
The minority leader in the House, Republican John Rhodes of Arizona, said he trusted Rodino and took him at his word that he would conduct a fair hearing.
Rodino and Rhodes demonstrated bipartisan respect for each other, as well as bipartisan honor for the institution they represented, and more importantly, for America.
Trump’s inquiry is far too partisan
Fast forward to 2019, and times has certainly changed.
House Democrats aren’t even willing to go on the record with a vote to begin impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the decision to begin impeachment without a vote to protect her 31 members from whose districts Donald Trump won in 2016.
She knows many of them could lose their seats (and Democrats could lose the majority in the House) because of this vote, and she doesn’t want to make them take the vote until it’s absolutely necessary.
Impeachment doesn’t make political sense for Democrats, nor are their actions marked by bravery. Their hatred of Trump is so unhinged that they can’t see a way forward without impeachment. I’d suggest that there is a quaint thing called an election, and letting voters decide their president is a far better solution than the rush toward impeachment.
How do we move forward?
The problem with the modern-day approach by the Democrats, as opposed to the Watergate-era, is that the 2019 impeachment reeks of “ready-fire-aim.”
Many Democrats wanted Trump impeached since Inauguration Day and have been looking for an opportunity to do it. During Watergate, Democrats were patient and let the evidence lead them down a path that required members of both parties to put country before partisan urges.
There are two basic principles House members, both Republican and Democrat, should follow in the coming weeks as they ponder one of the most consequential votes of their careers:
1. The process should be thoughtful, sober-minded and transparent.
So far, neither party is doing the thoughtful thing very well. Democrats launched the investigation before a transcript of the call was released and before the whistleblower complaint was even made public.
Both sides need to step back and let the evidence develop or not develop. A rush to judgment is the worst way to approach impeachment.
The process certainly isn’t sober-minded. Democrats are figuratively high-fiving each other as they dance down the halls of Congress because they think impeachment is their best chance to remove Trump from office. They should be contemplating the permanent scar left on the country by impeachment. At the end of that contemplation, they may decide the scar is worth it, but no one should be happy about it.
Transparency is an issue the House has time to correct. So far, everything has been done behind closed doors. The country deserves to see the evidence in full public view with time to absorb its significance or lack thereof. The impeachment will lose all credibility if transparency is ignored in favor of a partisan victory.
2. There should be an overwhelming bipartisan majority supporting impeachment.
Both parties are culpable of creating an environment where bipartisan support may be nearly impossible to deliver. The hyper-partisans of both sides seem dug into their respective trenches with little hope they will keep an open mind.
Republicans and Democrats owe it to the country and future generations to recognize this as a seminal moment in American history. There have certainly been moments like the Civil War and the race riots of the 1960s where the country was more divided than it is now. But make no mistake: Our Republic is certainly at a low point.
House members are responsible for more than winning political points for their party. They are responsible for acting in a way that brings honor to the country and demonstrates to future generations the greatness of America.