Why Trump impeachment is a really tall order

Walid Jawad
Walid Jawad
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Any calls for impeaching Trumps are hollow, and any subsequent arguments to the contrary are mute. Impeaching Trump in the current political environment despite any of his actions and statements is unlikely.

The process of impeaching a president is a political and procedural one that doesn’t stand a chance of being successfully executed within the current power balance in Congress despite how much Democrats want it even if the balance in Congress shifts to them this upcoming elections.

In simple terms, the House of Representatives is the body authorize to formally start an impeachment process against the president of the United States and must pass its articles of impeachment for treason, bribery, and/or other high crimes and misdemeanors by a simple majority vote.

Once the motion is passed, the president is technically “impeached.” The process moves to the US Senate to vote for a conviction with a two-third majority vote leading to the removal of the president if passed otherwise the impeachment would fail.

This is such a tall order to achieve that throughout the history of the United States not a single US President was removed from office through an impeachment process.

ALSO READ: Trump and Congress: The policy ends don’t justify means

Two presidents have the dishonorable distinction of being technically impeached; Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton while impeachment procedures were initiated unsuccessfully against Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Now, the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans, meaning that on partisan basis, the lower house will not initiate an impeachment process against Trump. However, the Republican control of the House will likely end this November as the American people cast their votes in the midterm elections.

The midterm elections will put every member of 453 Representatives on the ballots to face their constituency, a referendum on the performance of incumbents if you will. After the election, come January when the 116th Congress is in session, the Democrats will probably have the numbers to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump if they wish to do so.

But that technicality is one aspect that Democrats will need to contend with, the other is whether impeaching Trump will help or hurt the nation. They must not conflate what is better for the country with what is advantageous to their party.

At this stage of midterm polls, Republican representatives are risking their political future by breaking rank with Trump’s Republican Party

Walid Jawad

The Democrats

The Democrats have lost touch with the American people. James Comey, the former head of the FBI and Republican prior to 2016, tweeted this week “Democrats, please, please don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left. This president and his Republican Party are counting on you to do exactly that. America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced, ethical leadership.”

It is that “middle” that politicians of all stripes are oblivious to. At this point, the middle is voting against the status quo out of frustration, fear, and disillusionment. Trump became president to punish Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama before him became president as to punish the Republicans for eight years of George W. Bush warmongering around the world. Because we understand the cycle, we can predict where the voting pendulum will swing in this upcoming election cycle.

Billionaire Tom Steyer has been spending millions of dollars campaigning to collect signatures to support impeaching Trump. However, since October of 2017, he only secured 5.5 million signatures. This is a small number of the total registered American voters of 200 million.

A clear indication that the American “middle” is uninterested in having a referendum on Trump halfway through his presidency or interested in giving the Democrats a second chance to try to beat Trump after he won the elections fair and square. In soccer we say “play the ball, not the man,” and the Dems need to stand for something other than defining themselves in opposition to Trump.

ALSO READ: Between Trump’s policy and character

How confident should Democrats be of declaring victory in November? They shouldn’t. The more they move to the left allowing the party to be co-opted by fiery, uncompromising progressives with an exclusionary agenda the more entrenched the battle becomes between the diehard Trumpians and their opposing progressives, leaving the majority of the voting public out of the equation.

It’s not a matter of debating the validity of each groups’ politics, instead its the alienation of the desperate “middle” that observes from the sidelines the ideological battle and feels the despair, fear, and alienation. The country as a whole is paying the price for the zeal of the politicians on both sides.

Allowing special counsel Robert Mueller to render his findings will provide the public with an opportunity to judge for themselves. By that time the new Congress would be in place with a clock counting down to the next elections of 2020.

The hope is that buffer of time will offer more clarity and independence in dealing with Mueller investigation into Russian collusion. This is a critical time when Republicans and Democrats must realize the devastating outcome of their political jousting.

On the line is the US economy, America’s standing in the world, and its ability to lead on the global stage.

Helsinki aftermath

Trump’s weak performance in Helsinki before Putin is forcing more Republicans to examine their position. At this stage of the midterm elections, Republican Representatives are risking their political future by breaking rank with Trump’s Republican Party.

On one level the Republican Party can exert more influence on the Trump administration and win the respect and support of the voting “middle.” The remaining variable is whether enough voters show up to cast their ballots on November 6th.

Can politicians risk their hardcore Trumpian supporters by gambling on a larger turnout in a midterm election, which historically garners an anemic turnout? Republicans are finding themselves in a tight spot. Oddly enough, it's a spot that Trump imposed on them as he bolsters his core supporters.

The skillful Trump strategy of creating crises is working to his advantage. The rally around the flag syndrome is hitting those who bought into these crises. This group of energetic and committed Trump supporters point to America being under attack, and that Trump is making it great again, although they can’t list policies that support such a claim.

What makes America great again is a perception and feeling Trump is able to tap into. He is adept at reinforcing his base by manufacturing crises that elicit fear and doubt in the psyche of this group. The rest of the nation also perceives an existential threat to its own wellbeing, perhaps from Trump policies themselves.

Local issues induce a sense of urgency prompting people to be engaged; the border wall and the invasion of illegal immigrants, the assault on the flag by kneeling football players, and the conspiracy of an all-powerful deep state targeting Trump himself are some of the most divisive issues

No matter what happens this election cycle, even if the Democrats gain control of both chambers of Congress, the house and senate, they will not have the numbers to impeach the president and remove him from office.

Dems should change the game and forge a collaborative relation with their Republican colleagues for the good of the nation. This is the time to advance country over party lest party is unworthy of any votes.
Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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