Schwab: Damn the consequences, House Democrats must impeach

A few recognize the risk and yet are willing to ‘die on that hill.’ That’s the definition of patriotism.

By Sid Schwab

Herald columnist

Impeachment. There’s a political argument, to the “no” side of which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems committed; and there’s a constitutional argument, for which the rational position is “yes.” It’s a monumental call.

Were the House of Representatives to embark upon preparing a case, there’d be one of those storms the prefix of which was shared by President Trump in his characterization of certain African countries. His tweet-thumbs would burst into arthritic flame, Fox “news” anchors’ rage would deoxygenate the entire troposphere, and melting TV screens in Trump-country would leak pixels like lava.

If inquiries revealed murdered prostitutes and rubles by the millions in a Lincoln bedroom closet, the Senate would still acquit, McConnell’s grin would reflect eating the afore-hinted substance, and Fox’s Three Dolts on a Divan would praise Trump’s housekeeping skills.

But there are times that demand principled bravery. Hills on which to die. If they don’t include trying to save our constitutional republic, nothing does. That impeachment of Donald J. Trump, serial liar, perjurer (in writing!), ongoing obstructer of justice, who comforts our enemies and threatens our friends, who calls treasonous (which requires putting to death) the constitutionally empowered investigators of possible crimes by him, his campaign, and his administration; demands his underlings ignore legal subpoenas from a co-equal branch of government; calls for jailing political opponents; hires a sycophantic, dishonest attorney general; undermines the mainstays of our democracy: voting, press freedom and education; sabotages separation of powers the way any tin-pot dictator would; is prone to petulant rages leading to hair-trigger “policy” given less than a millisecond’s thought, likely to be reversed hours later; that these offenses cry out for impeachment is understood by all who consider the Constitution a still-relevant document, intended to protect us all.

Do I write run-on sentences? Very well, then, I write run-on sentences.

Impeachment would be a political risk for Democrats. A huge one. The aftermath could see Republicans regain both chambers and reelect Trump, which would be the final nail in the climate-coffin, seal the permanent loss of women’s rights, LGBT rights, minority civil and voting rights, equal rights of non-Christians. Minority views on nearly all issues, confirmed by ideological judges, would become entrenched, and those of us sharing ideals held by a majority of Americans could do nothing about it. A high price, indeed. And yet …

As strep requires penicillin, so does Trump require impeachment. Congressional Democrats arguing for it, trying to convince Speaker Pelosi, are, in effect, announcing they care less about their careers than about upholding the fundamental principles of the United States of America, constituted as and which must remain a country where autocracy is held in check by respect for our laws; where “the people’s house” is able to restrain a lawless, power-hungry, mendacious leader; where those conditions that have led to dictatorships elsewhere are not allowed to take hold here. We are, they’re saying, willing to die on that hill. That’s actual, definitional patriotism. As opposed to the manipulated, phony sideshow of Trump’s rallies.

During impeachment proceedings, Americans would hear witnesses to Trump’s unconstitutional actions, backed by layers of evidence. They wouldn’t need to read the Mueller report or seek out partisan punditry. Unfiltered by right-wing media, Attorney General William Barr’s deceptions, or a Trumpic torrent of tweets, facts would be laid bare. There’d be more than enough to result in a House vote for impeachment; but, inevitable as Trump’s next lie, Mitch McConnell’s Senate would roll over, leaving him in office.

And then, having seen with their own eyes, voters would face an existentially consequential choice: return to office those courageous enough to have impeached, while voting out those cowardly or avaricious enough to have refused removal; or the other way around. If the latter, then what many us have been warning about will have been realized.

In failure, impeachment will have forced the sad truth upon us sooner, hastening recognition that America has come to prefer dictatorship. Decades of unrelenting focus by the “modern” Republican Party on intentional, multi-focal deluding of the public will have achieved its goal. Constitutional democracy will have become, in our century, nothing more than illusion. Its inevitable, intentional demise will only have been hastened, not caused.

Notwithstanding right-wing claims, impeaching Trump would be about neither policy disagreements nor undoing “election” results, but, rather, about discovering whether or not the American experiment has failed. Perhaps it’s best if we don’t find out.

Email Sid Schwab at

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