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The Costs of Pursuing Impeachment

January 31, 2018 Leave a comment

Removal of a political leader prior to the end of his or her term rarely serves as a positive indicator for the then-current state of affairs. Impeachment and removal of a president, for example, may be preferable in light of the president’s offending conduct, but it carries its own disruptive costs. The framers made it difficult to remove a president, one logically assumes, because they anticipated it would be worth bearing the destabilizing effects only to eradicate the most serious of damaging offenses to the country.

President Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president right now, so it is not surprising that many Americans (and other people) want him out of office as soon as possible. It also is easy to see how a perceived expediency and efficacy of removal through the impeachment process would offer a means to that end that the President’s opponents find attractive. In short, it looks to them like a get out of jail free card, a silver bullet that, in rapid fashion, will erase what they believe to be the source of their problems in one clean shot.

Like most governmental processes, impeachment and removal does not happen that quickly, though, as this timeline from President Bill Clinton’s administration reminds. It also is far from clear that sufficient congressional will exists to impeach the President at this time.

These practical hurdles do not seem to be of great concern to the impeachment proponents, who have seized on the President’s alleged connections with Russia as their best hope for his removal prior to the end of his first term, even if, as some have observed, the asserted nature of the improper Russian involvement has evolved over time.

The foregoing notwithstanding, it often seems as though the President’s critics have coalesced around impeachment as the singular aspirational focus of their opposition. In doing so, they ignore the day-to-day policy activities of the administration and Congress. While not necessarily evidencing the smooth operation expected of a more experienced administration, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress are advancing certain agenda items likely to have lasting effect while the vocal opposition remains distracted with Russia. At some point, putting all of their eggs in one shoot-the-moon basket is likely to backfire on the President’s adversaries, even if they ultimately succeed. Upon review of the new tax bill, reauthorization of NSA surveillance laws, environmental regulation rollbacks, potential renergization of federal marijuana prosecution, and appointment of a dozen new federal judges, among other accomplishments, they might conclude that point is in the past.

Categories: Action, Current, Politics