It’s been a couple of days since the democratic world witnessed something, we never thought we’d see; the insurrection in Washington and the storming of the Capitol of the United States of America. Since that happened the conversations for so many have revolved around what to do with the final two weeks of the presidency of Donald Trump, and how much more damage he could unleash in these days in an attempt to hold onto power or just burn the place to the ground on his way out the door. It’s a dangerous moment and with more reports of far-right groups threatening more violence either before or during the inauguration of Joe Biden, it’s clear that they’re not out of the woods yet.
We’ve seen more Republicans stepping forward saying that Trump needs to go now, we’ve seen reports of talk about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office and we’ve heard talk about impeachment. It’s clear that most politicians and public officials are clearer on the danger in this moment and are worried about what Trump might do next, but with only 11 days left most appear not willing to move because of a lack of time. This appears to be the case with the 25th Amendment, even if Vice President Mike Pence was willing to take the steps to invoke it, which it doesn’t appear that he is. When you add the resignation of a number of Trump cabinet members who might be most likely to support that move, it doesn’t seem likely that path will work.
That’s lead to a push towards a second impeachment of Donald Trump, with media reports stating that articles of impeachment built around a charge of inciting an insurrection could be introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Monday and a vote by Wednesday. It will like pass in the House then go to the Senate, where honestly it will likely sit with no action until after Biden’s inauguration. That would mean that Trump would remain in his seat until the bitter end.
That has led some to publicly comment that for that reason the US Congress shouldn’t pursue this impeachment. They state that this will just further divide the nation and will cause more damage. Others have even suggested that it could enrage Trump’s supporters and create even worse violence down the road. But after some reflection on all those reasons and more, I have come away with a totally different conclusion, and honestly it was two Twitter posts I saw this morning that really crystalized it for me:
Both of those Tweets make what are, in my mind, the most important points. Firstly, Trump himself has to be sanctioned and punished for what he did, regardless of what his supporters might do. There is no zero-cost exit from this situation and the attempt to try to find one will just continue to send the wrong messages that have been sent over the past four years. Keep this in mind, it appears from reporting that both former American military officials and foreign allies believe that Trump was trying to have a full-on coup. That one report from Business Insider points out that the allies they have spoken with reported as much to their elected governments. This is extremely serious stuff, exactly the kinds of things that impeachment was created for.
Secondly, I find this whole “further divide the country” language being put forward by those Republicans that are still protecting Trump to be some of the worst kind of disingenuous language out there. It not only ignores what the World just saw, it also ignores the acts that brought us to that point. What in the sweet Hell did those same Republicans think that challenging Joe Biden’s legitimate and clear election win based on conspiracy theories, lies and attempts to bully election officials would do? Did they think that someone allowing that crap to fester would bring the whole nation together or strengthen democracy? You had congresspeople elected in that election that put them in their seats trying to claim that very same election was illegitimate for someone else. They were elected on the same ballots, same processes, same officials, yet somehow their wins were a-okay, and Biden’s was not? Give me a bloody break.
What those Republicans did was cowardly, refusing to stand up to Donald Trump and call out his lies and even after those MAGA supporters stormed the Congress, they still voted to continue with that lie. They continued to persist in peddling conspiracy theories, lies and fomenting doubt about the democratic process in America. Again, none of that brought the country together or united people.
The fact is that if the American Congress ducks their responsibilities to follow through on this impeachment of Donald Trump, it will signal to those MAGA rioters and insurrectionists that what they did was just fine. It would tell Donald Trump that he is completely above the law and untouchable, all because he has a mob of supporters powered by conspiracy theories at his beck and call. There must be consequences for actions as grave as these because if you don’t do this now, then what in the Hell would you ever impeach for? That’s not political or a partisan attack, that’s dealing with the true fallout of what just happened.
And yes, this impeachment won’t remove Donald Trump from office but that shouldn’t be the goal here. The goal of this impeachment should really be two-fold; to hold Trump accountable in a way that he has never faced before and to ensure that he can never run for Federal office ever again. That last part is probably the most important, mostly because he’s made it clear that he has no intention of leaving the political stage and will surely try to run again in 2024. Once the new Senators from Georgia are installed, the new Senate leadership can start the impeachment trial, even if Trump is already out of office, and convict him. It may not remove him from office, but it would ensure his judgement and that he couldn’t run for President again. And if you think all of this is bad, think how much worse it would be if Donald Trump were allowed to and got re-elected in 2024 after all of this. What kind of message would that send to Americans and the World in general about the health of American democracy?
Actions and words of incitement have legal consequences and not following through on this impeachment would send a signal all its own. If it further enrages Trump’s supporters, you can’t control that. They have shown us that just about anything enrages that group and in a healthy, functioning democracy, you can’t let the reactions of an armed mob of people driven by hate and conspiracy theories determine who faces justice for their actions. This would be true if the President were a Democrat, Republican or any other party. This is a responsibility that the Congresspeople and Senators must fulfil because if they don’t, they will send that mob another, dangerous message, one that might bring even worse consequences for the US and democracy. There are no perfect, painless and cost-free solutions left and impeaching Donald Trump a second time is something that must happen at this time.