At the time this is posted, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic Leadership Team are yet to forward to the Senate the two Articles of Impeachment against President Trump passed by the House in December. Reports indicate that she has been holding the Articles in an attempt to pressure Republican Senate Majority Leader, U.S. KY Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Mr. McConnell’s Republican Leadership Team, to conduct a meaningful trial of the Articles in the Senate. As the parties bandy back and forth regarding the framework of the upcoming procedure, several impressions emerge:
The President and his supporters persist in calling impeachment a “coup” – short for coup d’etat. It isn’t. My trusty American Heritage Dictionary defines the term – originally French for “stroke of state,” as, “A sudden stroke of state policy involving deliberate violation of constitutional forms by a group of persons in authority [Emphasis added].” By my count, the Constitution refers to impeachment proceedings in five places: Article I, Sections 2 and 3; Article II, Sections 2 and 4; and Article III, Section 2. Whether or not one believes that the President’s imposition upon a vulnerable and reliant foreign ally for assistance against a domestic political rival constituted an offense sufficient to warrant his removal from office under Article II, Section 4, the House impeachment proceedings, which followed the Constitution’s outlines, have in no way constituted a “coup” (nor did the House’s 1998 impeachment of President Clinton). Even though the President’s acolytes are willing to ignore his flouting of his constitutional constraints, I wish that they would at least have the grace not to misrepresent the meaning of a commonly-used English term [even if it is originally French ;)].
The President and his supporters persist in claiming that the impeachment proceedings are intended to “reverse the result of the 2016 election,” “take away the votes of 63 million people,” etc., etc. Again, no matter what one thinks of the weight and merits of the charges against Mr. Trump, this is poppycock [or, as former Vice President Joe Biden might say: malarkey ;)]. By providing for the concept of impeachment in the Constitution, the Founders contemplated that duly-elected officials might behave sufficiently inappropriately to justify their removals from office. If Mr. Trump is removed following the Senate impeachment trial, his successor will not be the 2016 Democratic Party Presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; obviously, it will be Vice President Mike Pence. The 63 million people whose votes the Republicans claim would be forfeited if the Senate convicts Mr. Trump voted for Mr. Pence, too; presumably they believed that Mr. Pence would represent them well if, for whatever reason, Mr. Trump could no longer continue as President.
Putting aside these unfounded oratory flailings by the President and his cohort, to me their most insidious claim is their insinuation that those that support Mr. Trump’s removal from office “don’t like” the President’s supporters. In an October, 2019, piece entitled, “Impeaching Trump Voters,” conservative Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn wrote, in part, the following:
“So why the rush [to proceed with impeachment]? Maybe … there’s an itch to punish Trump voters for what they did in 2016. In other words, it isn’t enough that Mr. Trump be defeated. His whole presidency must be delegitimized, along with the people who voted him in. … [I]t doesn’t seem to occur to Democrats that the president’s supporters stick with him in part because they appreciate that the Trump hatred is directed at them as well. [Emphasis Added].”
During the House impeachment proceedings, U.S. OH Rep. Jim Jordan said the following:
“It’s not just … [the Democrats] don’t like the President. … They don’t like us. They don’t like the 63 million people who voted for this President. All of us in flyover country. All of us common folk in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Texas — they don’t like us. … That’s what this is about. They don’t like the President. They don’t like the President’s supporters. And they don’t like us so much that they’re willing to weaponize the government. … Going after 63 million people and the guy we put in the White House. …”
Claims such as those leveled by Messrs. McGurn and Jordan are malignant calumny designed to exploit Trump supporters for Republican political advantage. Since there is no indication that Russia manipulated actual 2016 presidential vote totals and Special Counsel Robert Mueller found insufficient evidence to show that the 2016 Trump Campaign conspired with the Russian Government to elect Mr. Trump, I consider Mr. Trump to have validly won the presidency under our Constitution’s Electoral College framework. He – not unlike U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders — provided a voice for millions of well-intended people who for decades have felt impugned and ignored by the comfortable elites of both parties. Mr. Jordan alluded to Trump supporters in my own state of Wisconsin; from our own travels, I would add to his list well-intended Trump supporters we have met in Utah, Missouri, and Alaska. One can have affection and affinity for well-intended Trump supporters and still believe that the President should be removed because he exploited the power of the presidency for his own personal advantage (as noted earlier in these pages, reading the Call Manuscript — as the President urged — was enough for me). Mr. Trump’s defenders are seeking to distract and incite his followers specifically because no substantive defense can be mounted regarding the President’s actions. Their behavior is execrable.
And we haven’t even gotten to the Lord or Mr. Rogers. That in Part II of this note.