To impeach or not to impeach
January 19th, 2017
A friend of mine passionately asserted the other day that Trump should not be impeached because that would give us a Mike Pence presidency. In her view Pence would be far worse than Trump because Trump is unpredictable and might do some good things whereas Pence is a known quantity who can be relied upon to do evil every chance he gets. My friend maintained that this may be a gendered issue, and that I would understand and share her perspective more strongly if I were a woman. She may have a point. But I think that ultimately the balance weighs in favor of impeachment. Partly, this is because I do not think that Pence has that much of a personal following, and he would be unlikely to take the GOP much farther into its already strong inclination towards misogyny. More to the point, however, is that Pence is just an individual man and if he isn’t gone in a maximum of eight years then we have far greater problems than sexist ideology to contend with. Whereas if Trump is not impeached, in the face of his blatant violation of the Emoluments Clause from the first seconds of his presidency and his likely treasonous collusion with Vladimir Putin, then we have driven another nail into the coffin of constitutional government in this country. Our constitution is neither self-enforcing nor self-preserving. We may be more of an oligarchy than a democracy already; all the more reason to tend carefully the constitutional system that protects us, however tentatively and inadequately, from the depredations of the rich and powerful. Once the constitution is shredded, literally nothing stands between us and them. Damage to the constitution lasts long beyond any individual person’s term of office. It is cumulative and extremely hard to reverse. So I have to conclude that impeachment, despite the horrible aftermath in the form of a Pence administration, is the necessary lesser of two evils.