Update 1 - Added list of "unimpeachable" actions at bottom
A Sad State of Affairs
A crime, so called, does not have to occur for the Congress to impeach, or remove from office, a President. The term "high crimes and misdemeanors" does not mean a literal statute, no matter what Trump says.
The Founders debated the power of impeachments. Some thought that the Congress should use the power any time the President was merely disagreeable in policy. Others like Hamilton thought periodic elections were enough for that - that a President should only be removed for gross negligence, bribery, treason, or character unbecoming of the office.
Any of that sound familiar? Trump has been an embarrassment for some time. I'm not talking politics - policy is another discussion for another time. He is simply a terrible representative of this country. It would take several hours to compile a list of lists of how shitty he has been as a political unifier, leader, or head of state, but to wit:
He doesn't stand for human rights. He is sacrificing the declaration of American values for Hong Kong, in order to appease his friend Xi. He embraces and kisses up to every dictator on the planet - to bolster his self-image as dealmaker, or because they play into his ego to manipulate his behavior. He has wished he could be as brutal as Rodrigo Duterte with drug users. He has wished he could be as relentless as Vladmir Putin with journalists. He recently wished China a happy anniversary of the rise of their Communist government. He publicly disagreed with the entire US intelligence apparatus in favor of the KGB's assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He stood by the leader of the country that attacked New York City after that leader ordered the murder of a US resident journalist.
Stuck in the Mud
Yet our politics are so toxic, our country so tribal, and our two-party system so flawed as to force extremism to the fore, that Republicans stand by this corrupt demagogue. Perhaps a political stance is so important, a Republican holds their nose to advance it.
Perhaps they stand by him because it seems like a game. Communities like The_Donald on reddit and /pol/ on 4chan traffic in this kind of "I'm kidding but seriously" bullshit, and even some "mainstream" outlets do. Like Laura Ingraham, who tried to drink beef through a light-bulb-studded beef patty to "own the libs". Talk about cutting off the head to spite the face.
Or perhaps, most sadly, some Republicans believe Trump is a true American leader, legitimately concerned day in and day out with the long term safety and security of the United States. He is a victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy that smears his unimpeachable character for the sake of power and political correctness.
Is it Time Yet?
As many have noted, impeachment has been a big ask from the Congress. Some are understandably cautious about the specter of using such a serious tool. Some are more politically minded: They worry that even though he's deserved it for some time, public opinion must move toward impeachment before it can be considered practical. Yes, impeachment will be divisive, and it will raise suspicion of ulterior motives. To quote Hamilton in Federalist No. 65 (bold added):
The subjects of [Senate impeachment] jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide [society] into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
The bottom line: A president can be removed for violation of public trust (not just criminal acts) and no matter what, it will get messy.
Yeah, It's About Time
Recently, it was revealed that President Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to an ally in a hot war, as a bargaining chip to get our ally to investigate his political opponent for alleged corruption. This isn't debatable, this isn't in question. It happened. See footnotes.
Fuck the talking heads that says "hearsay" and "second hand" - the complaint was found to be "credible" by the acting Director of National Intelligence, and by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG). Oh, and transcripts of calls between Trump and the Ukraine confirm the mafia-like "wink wink" conversation asking for an investigation. Oh, and Trump outright asked another foreign power, China, to investigate the same political opponent. Kind of like he did with Russia in 2016.
This behavior is the reason the Congress has the power of impeachment. A president should be held to a much higher standard of patriotism and national service than the average citizen. If a private person burns a flag or advocates for totalitarian takeover of the country, they have that freedom, however despicable the opinion. If a President were to say he hates the country, or burned a flag on the White House lawn, however - that would amount to "high crimes" of the office.
Are There Patriots Left?
Trump has committed "high crimes". He may not hate the country outright. He may even want it to "win", insofar as he is the leader of it and he likes looking like he's winning. But he does not love this country. He is sailing it up a river for his personal gain, and would destroy it to protect himself. He has assaulted every norm and expectation of the office of the President. I don't worry about him starting a hot war - though it's possible he will. I don't worry about his impact on climate change - the next president can clean his shit up, and we might be screwed anyway. My worry is that if this charlatan is not impeached, or worse, elected to a second term, that he will have destroyed the public's expectations of honor and service in public office. He, and Mitch McConnell, and Lindsay Graham, will have proven that officials can be self-serving tools of enemy powers, ignore their responsibilities to the American State, and win.
Republicans, I know there are valid opinions on which we disagree. Knowing many Conservatives, I know that political ethos is not in itself evil, un-American or any other exaggeration. But find someone else to champion your cause. This should not be partisan. Congress, uphold your oath and remove this man. America, support them in their efforts, loudly. If there were a time for prayer, it is now.
Postscript/My Own "Whatabouts"
- There is no proof or reliable evidence that either Biden did anything criminal with their actions regarding the gas company Hunter worked for, or Joe's pressure to remove a corrupt prosecutor from office. BUT IF THERE WERE, a reasonable president would work with the US Intelligence community and Congress, not directly with foreign governments, to figure that out. The Bidens look a little shady, you say? "What about" a sitting President pressuring a foreign power to investigate his possible election opponent? "What about" Trump's constant violations of the Emoluments Clause, taking in millions from foreign governments with his hotels? "What about" his children continuing their businesses worldwide - like a possible quid pro quo with China regarding Ivanka's businesses and Chinese telecoms? I hate whatabouts, but it seems to be the dialect best understood by the Right.
- Trump is calling Adam Schiff a traitor for, at worst, misspeaking during a Congressional hearing. For political speech. And people say Trump is a unifier.
- Yeah, Trump thinks you can impeach a Senator . Protip: You can't.
- Things Republicans have been saying that are lies or have zero fucking bearing: -That Bidens might have done something wrong - That the whistleblower complain was "leaked" - That it is "hearsay" - That Clinton is "just as corrupt" or anything regarding pretty much any other scandal. Saying "Well this other person one time did something really shitty too" is not a defense. There is the source of my title: Stop moving goalposts. Stop dodging the issue by bringing up other people. It is a sign of a weakness that no one can reasonable defend Trump on his merits - it is always about how something else is just as bad as he is.
Postscript Two: Unimpeachables
I want to be clear for those who might think I merely dislike Trump's policies. Here are just a few things I personally think would not qualify him for removal by this process:
- Separating and caging families at the border
- Him and his party claiming to be fiscal conservatives, then cutting taxes for the rich, raising them on the middle class, cutting social safety nets and raising military spending
- Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement
- Rolling back dozens of environmental protections at the EPA and trying to gut the Endangered Species Act
- Being a complete twat on Twitter day in and day out, pouting about the latest celebrity that said a meanie word about him
- High Crimes and Misdemeanors - The Origins of the Phrase
- Transcript of Trump/Zelenskyy call
- Whistleblower Complaint #1 re: Ukraine
- Federalist No 65 - Why the Senate should be the site for Impeachment trials
- Federalist No 64 - Intro to the powers of the Senate. Just fascinating how much faith John Jay had in the idea that the Senate (then chosen by states) and the Electoral college would both be filled with only the most honorable men, known for their love of country first and their wisdom of politics. Oh, to dream.