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Eric Ferguson recording video
Eric Ferguson recording video, possibly for a blog

Impeachment is about precedent

Impeachment is about precedent

Just to be clear, I’m under no misapprehension about what office I’m seeking, nor do I have the bizarre idea that state legislators get to vote on impeachment. I’m writing about the biggest issue facing our country at this moment because, frankly, that seems reason enough.

Something else I’m utterly clear about is that there’s no chance Republicans in either house of Congress will vote against their dear leader. Republicans have turned into an authoritarian party devoted to power ahead of democracy or rule of law. Feel free to suspect they’re lost in the personality cult of Trump, though I expect they would put the interests of their president and party first no matter who led them at the moment. They’ve simply changed over the last decades in way many failed to see until Trump made it impossible to miss. The upshot then is that Trump is not, and never was, under threat of being removed by conviction in the Senate. So why bother with impeachment at all?

Impeachment is about setting a precedent that Trump’s crimes are intolerable. Refusing to impeach him would likewise set a precedent, namely that all of Trump’s corruption is perfectly acceptable. A future president would have to somehow be even worse than Trump for impeachment to be considered.

Both sides in the House impeachment debate frequently said “this is a sad day”. That’s wrong. Whatever comes next, that was a good day. It was a good day because at last, the government worked as the Constitution intended when confronted with a corrupt president. The failure of the majority party in the Senate won’t change that the majority party in the House stood up and said “no”. They exercised their power as the framers hoped when they sought ways to rein in presidents who were being granted power they feared to hand to one man after removing the king. Even if Trump were to make good on the suggestions he become president for life, history will look to see who resisted and tried to save the American republic, and Democrats will at least have done what they could, while Republicans will be the sycophant senators who handed all power to Caesar.

I suggest reading this post by Josh Marshall, editor at Talking Points Memo, who explained it well:

If we step back from signature phrases like “high crimes and misdemeanors” and look at the document in its totality, foreign subversion is a central, paramount concern in erecting a robust presidential power. The president is the only person who can never have had a foreign allegiance. He or she is specifically prohibited from accepting any thing of value or any power or title from a foreign power. The impetus to creating the constitution was the perceived need to create a more robust central government with a more powerful executive. The other signature, structural element of the document is the fear that this empowered executive will use these powers to perpetuate their own power and break free of the republican system of government on behalf of which and for which they hold these powers. Both of these central fears about presidential power are directly implicated in Trump’s criminal behavior.