Just a short post today, to clarify and qualify my last post on this subject. In that post, I argued that impeachment of Donald Trump was 1) the right thing to do—that is, justified on constitutional grounds, and 2) the politically smart thing to do.
I have no reason to modify anything I wrote with regard to the first point, but the second does require further discussion.
First, a mea culpa: I cited a recent poll that showed that a plurality of Americans—49% vs. 42%–believed Trump should be impeached. But, I should have done more homework. As we know, polls differ, and other recent polls showed a plurality against impeachment. That continues to be true. I expect that support for impeachment will grow along with Trump’s legal difficulties, but advocating impeachment now, from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, is problematic.
But note: in that post, I wrote that Democrats should be advocating impeachment. I didn’t write the Democrats, much less all Democrats, just Democrats; which is to say, some Democrats. I am glad that some Democrats—a substantial portion of the House of Representatives Democratic caucus—are openly advocating impeachment. I’m glad, too, that the benevolent billionaire Tom Steyer is pushing for impeachment. It’s important that the option of impeachment be kept before the public. It’s important as a continuing political statement about the obscenity of the Trump presidency. It’s also important to help prepare the groundwork should impeachment become a real, practical possibility.
On the other hand, it is better that leading Democrats—including the Congressional leadership—not be advocating impeachment now. An apparent premature preoccupation with impeachment could well backfire politically for the party. So, I think the proper stance for most Democrats would be to emphasize their readiness to defend the rule of law, a readiness that recognizes the possibility that impeachment might become necessary. That will be a sufficient contrast to their Republican opponents, most of whom are ready only to defend Trump.