A frequent talking point among Republicans as of late has been to decry impeachment as undermining the democratic (small-d) wishes of the American electorate.
Sen. Ted Cruz, citing an interview in which he spoke with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd over the weekend, echoed that claim in a tweet, stating that Democrats are planning to impeach President Donald Trump because “they hate POTUS & want to undo the election.”
There are two problems with this line of thinking. The first is a pretty obvious one: Trump didn’t ever have the democratic support of most Americans. His 2016 presidential election opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, defeated Trump by nearly 3 million votes nationwide. Republicans are talking a big game about the democratic preferences of the people, while also ignoring the fact that those preferences were not for Trump to become president to begin with.
The second problem is this: there has been another election between 2016 and now, and voters overwhelmingly selected Democrats to be the majority party in the House of Representatives, in part to act as a “check” on Trump.
Impeachment, furthermore, wasn’t seriously considered by party leaders until 10 months after they won those contests. An inquiry wasn’t announced in January when they were sworn in; it wasn’t considered in April when the Mueller report, detailing 10 instances of obstruction of justice performed by the president, was revealed; and it wasn’t considered after Mueller stated that, “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
This is a kangaroo court in the House. They're going to impeach @realDonaldTrump, not bc they have the evidence but bc they hate POTUS & want to undo the election. The American people know this is a waste of time & the Dems putting on a circus. —> https://t.co/XFtcxhvhNx pic.twitter.com/BzsuX1qF5Y
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 8, 2019
It took a revelation from a whistleblower within the intelligence community, who stated that Trump used the withholding of military aid to a foreign nation in order to coerce that country’s leader into opening investigations that would benefit Trump politically in the 2020 presidential election, before Democrats realized what the he had done was an offense worth impeaching him over.
We also know that Democrats aren’t just trying to undo the election of the president, aren’t just “playing politics” with impeachment, because history demonstrates that’s just not how they operate. Consider this:
Democrats won a midterm election, giving them majority control in Congress. They did so after an unpopular president, whose foreign policy ideas and bumbling, embarrassing statements domestically made him unpopular among the U.S. electorate, had won an election two years prior. Even though this president acted in ways that some believed were illegal, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi showed restraint, opting not to introduce articles of impeachment.
The paragraph above is not the description of Democrats in 2019 — rather, that’s what happened in 2006, after Democrats won midterms that year. Their immediate action was not to impeach President George W. Bush, nor was it an action that leaders in the party promoted in the two years after they won Congress, even though some commentators described his presidency as being “worse than Watergate.”
Pelosi wasn’t just wary of impeaching the Republican president at that time — she was vociferously and vocally opposed to it. “I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table,” she said.
Trump’s actions, however, warrant demonstrable and problematic issues for the preservation of our democracy — if this sort of behavior is deemed appropriate now, what actions will future presidents take to win re-election down the road?
Those who disparage Pelosi ought to instead take her at her word when she describes impeachment as a “sad” situation she finds herself reluctantly pursuing. She had the chance to behave politically with impeachment a decade ago, and chose to take the higher ground. What has changed between then and now that would make anyone think she’s behaving differently today?
With an insidious president now in charge, taking a route that doesn’t include impeachment is arguably the less ethical path to take. The reluctance on Pelosi’s part highlights this point.
It’s clear that Pelosi, and Democrats in general, are not trying to “undo” an election. Rather, they seem to be genuinely trying to save our democracy from a man who wishes himself to be treated like a monarch rather than a president who should be held to account by this nation’s laws.
Cruz and others have a talking point, yet no bit of evidence behind it, when they say impeachment is meant to defy an election. If anything, impeaching Trump will ensure that future races will be just, free from candidates seeking foreign interference in order to win.