On Impeachment: Nobody Knows

On Impeachment: Nobody Knows October 8, 2019

Nobody knows what will happen in the next year. The magi have been overturned and inside information is useless. President Donald John Trump is as rare as a black swan in Medieval logic and impeachment has happened twice. We have no data and this tempts thoughtless men to opine madly.

Nobody knows what will happen if this President of the United States is impeached.

The House has decided, just before an election year, to look into impeaching the President of the United States. They have begun to do so. By itself this is equivalent to the academic committee set up to study the need to cut down on academic committees: something could come of it, but probably not.

This is a ploy by the exceedingly savvy survivor Nancy Pelosi. Mr Trump won with (roughly) forty-six percent of the vote and most of the people who voted for him approve of his job. In many polls, Trump captures the votes of forty-six percent or more against plausible Democratic nominees. This is enough to win the electoral college and removing a President that retains the support of just short of half of the American people is a disaster.

If the investigation dents this approval, the House will impeach. Ignore anyone who claims to know what the Senate will do. The past is no prelude, because there is not an adequate data set. We have only been there twice.

The Clinton impeachment led to a trial in the Senate where seventeen more Senators could have made Al Gore President. What if a lion of the Senate, one who detested Clinton personally like Senator Robert Bird, had turned on Mr. Clinton? Would an incumbent Gore have defeated George W. Bush especially if the Democratic base was stirred by removal of the popular Clinton? It was a close enough election to say: maybe. If obstruction of justice had led to Clinton being removed from office, the entire political world in which we live would be different.

We do not know. Nobody knows.

If Trump is impeached and there is a trial in the Senate, the pressure on a Democratic Senator like Joe Manchin to acquit would be intense. Senator Romney would vote as he wished, secure in his Utah base. Are there sixty-seven members who would convict? Given the Gore precedent would Republican leaders decide a Pence/Haley ticket would be stronger?

Nobody knows. I have guesses. You have guesses. Your neighbor has guesses. The guy at the bar who can barely speak has guesses.  They are just as good as the people you see on television.

You can find lists of plausible Senators who would “switch.” Begin with Collins, Romney, Paul, Sasse, and look for twelve. Would even those Senators vote to convict? They do not know yet. They have never been here before now. If Mr. Trump were removed from office, would he run for the Republican nomination?

What if he won that and the general election with this solid forty-six?

Now imagine something that appears to vindicate the President. What will happen if the IG returns a report condemning many in the previous administration for misconduct?

We do not know.

Why write five hundred words arguing for ignorance, mine as well as yours? Because the belief in an inevitable outcome (House will stall and not impeach, Senate will surely not convict, IG will undermine the deep state) is enervating to thoughtful consideration of what is happening now.

As citizens we must weigh the evidence of what is happening now, make a decision based on our best ethics, and then encourage our elected leaders to act. 

 


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