practical problem is that for impeachment to be meaningful, Trump would
not just have to be impeached by the House of Representatives (which
requires a simple majority) but also removed by the Senate (requiring a
two-thirds vote). It’s easy to imagine a scenario where the Democrats
win the House of Representatives in 2018 and have the necessary votes
for impeachment. But even in that best-case scenario, in which Democrats
win every toss-up race for the Senate, they would still be well short
of the votes they need in the Senate. Which means that kicking Trump out
of the White House by necessity has to be a bipartisan effort with
significant Republican buy-in.
As Peter Beinart pointed out Sunday in The Atlantic,
the possibility of Republicans co-operating in removing Trump is
dropping even as there’s more evidence emerges that the Trump campaign
colluded with the Russians. Beinart correctly noted that “mass
Republican defection” from Trump “has grown harder, not easier, to
imagine. It’s grown harder because the last six months have demonstrated
that GOP voters will stick with Trump despite his lunacy, and punish
those Republican politicians who do not.” Republican support for Trump
has never fallen below 79 percent since he became president. Republicans
who dare criticize Trump, such as senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker,
have crashed in popularity among the GOP base.
Republican Party has proven that they will tolerate just about anything
from Trump. They continue to stand with him despite his demented
tweeting, the political support he’s given to Roy Moore, his repeated
expressions of contempt for the justice system, and his cavalier threats
to launch a nuclear war. Unless Robert Mueller finds the possibly
apocryphal “pee tape,”
Republicans are likely to remain loyal to Trump. In fact, there’s a
real possibility that even if the “pee tape” is real and widely viewed,
Trump would still remain politically sacrosanct among his own party.
The most promising route for stopping Trump, then, is through the ballot box. Democrats need a convincing platform and effective organization to win elections at every level. If
the party can win back Congress in 2018, it can immediately start
hamstringing Trump’s presidency without resorting to the unlikely path
of impeachment. Democrats can launch investigations into Trump’s many
improper acts. They can stall his nominees, especially in the courts.
They can also start laying down rules for reining in the imperial presidency, including the thermonuclear monarchy, so that no future commander-in-chief has the dangerous power Trump possesses.
fetishists seem to think that the overriding problem of American
politics is that Trump is president. By this analysis, the president is a
dangerous outlier whose removal would restore America to normality. But
the problem isn’t just Trump; it’s also the Republican Party. Trump is
only dangerous because he’s the standard-bearer of a party that has
unified control of the government and is willing to stand by Trump no
matter what. A Democratic agenda of reining in presidential power
will give more lasting victories than mere impeachment, which is
unlikely to succeed and would only address a symptom, not the cause, of
the cancer that’s ravaging American politics.