Something To Consider …

I first saw Fareed Zakaria several years ago on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning show, This Week. The man impressed me with his intellect and reasonableness at the time, and he still does, although I frequently disagree with him on certain issues.  Mr. Zakaria is a journalist, political scientist and author whose political ideology defies description, as he is mostly considered to be a centrist, but has in some cases been labeled a conservative, and at other times a liberal.

The word ‘impeachment’ has been bandied around a lot lately, and I am one who has used it more than a few times.  I have urged caution, but since the release of the Mueller report am leaning more toward the idea, though I still believe it is prudent to take time, for it’s a one-shot thing, and right at this moment, I believe it would be destined to fail.

Yesterday, I came across an editorial written by Mr. Zakaria in The Washington Post that gave me food for thought.  I have not yet decided to what extent I agree with him, but … I think it’s important for us to keep an open mind and I must admit that much of what he says is valid and makes sense.  So, I share this with you today in hopes you will at least give it a bit of thought.


Democrats, There’s A Better Strategy Than Impeachment

Fareed ZakariaBy Fareed Zakaria

Columnist

April 25 at 5:34 PM

Consider, for a moment, what the growing talk of impeachment among Democrats sounds like to the tens of millions of people who voted for President Trump. Many of them supported him because they felt ignored, mocked and condescended to by the country’s urban, educated and cosmopolitan elites — especially lawyers and journalists. So what happens when their guy gets elected? These same elites pursue a series of maneuvers to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It would massively increase the class resentment that feeds support for the president. It would turn the topic away from his misdeeds and toward the Democrats’ overreach and obsessions. And ultimately, of course, it would fail — two-thirds of this Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict him — allowing Trump to brandish his “acquittal” as though it were a gold medal.

I know, I know, many argue passionately that this is not a political affair but rather a moral and legal one. After reading the Mueller report, they say, Congress has no option but to fulfill its obligation and impeach Trump. But this view misunderstands impeachment entirely. It is, by design, an inherently political process, not a legal one. That’s why the standard used — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is not one used in criminal procedures. And that is why the decision is entrusted to a political body, Congress, not the courts.

In 1970, when he was House minority leader, Gerald Ford provided the most honest definition of an impeachable offense: “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Of the three cases in the United States’ past, history’s judgment is that only one — the impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon — was wholly justified. President Andrew Johnson’s decision to fire his secretary of war — clearly lawful — should not have led to his impeachment. The same is true for President Bill Clinton’s failed Whitewater land deal, which triggered an independent counsel inquiry that went into completely unrelated arenas and used questionable methods of investigation.

Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman points out that neither history nor the framers’ intent yields clear lessons on the topic. “It’s quite possible that many founders would have supported impeachment for serious substantive matters like the usurpation of power by the president. By that standard, would [Abraham] Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, FDR’s internment of the Japanese Americans or [Lyndon] Johnson’s massive expansion of the Vietnam War all have been impeachable offenses? Possibly.” But these presidents were not impeached because Congress and the country exercised political judgment. And that is why it is entirely appropriate for Democrats to think this through politically.

For some Democrats, impeachment talk might be a smart, if cynical, short-term calculation. If you are running for the Democratic nomination and languishing in the polls, it is a way to get attention. If you are consolidating your support with the party’s base, the more fiercely anti-Trump you are, the better. But all these moves work only as long as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slow-rolls the process and stops it from getting out of hand. Others can be irresponsible on the assumption that Pelosi will be responsible. But what if things snowball, as they often do in politics?

The Democrats have a much better path in front of them. They should pursue legitimate investigations of Trump, bring in witnesses and release documentary proof of wrongdoing, providing a national education about the way Trump has operated as president. But they should, at the same time, show the public that they would be a refreshing contrast to Trump — substantive, policy-oriented, civil and focused on the country, not on their narrow base. America is tired of the circus of Trump. That doesn’t mean they want the circus of the House Democrats.

The president is vulnerable. With strong economic numbers, he has astonishingly low approval ratings. He will likely run his 2020 campaign on cultural nationalism, as he did in 2016. Democrats need to decide what their vision will be. That should be their focus, not the unfounded hope that if they pursue impeachment, somehow a series of miracles will take place — a deeply divided country will coalesce around them, and Republicans will finally abandon their president.

The real challenge the Democrats face goes beyond Trump. It is Trumpism — a right-wing populism that has swelled in the United States over the past decade. Surely the best way to take it on is to combat it ideologically and defeat it electorally. That is the only way to give the Democrats the real prize, which is not Trump’s scalp but the power and legitimacy to forge a governing majority.

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24 thoughts on “Something To Consider …

    • Impeachment is viable only if it passes. If it fails, then we have done more harm than good. We need to be the thinkers, the purveyors of logic and reason, not simply react out of frustration and anger.

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  1. Astute observation.

    Actually, all political parties need to reinvent themselves, and especially the Democrats. There were a number of things over the Clinton and Obama administration that did not sit well with everyone and trying to impeach Trump against a majority is not likely to be a prudent move.

    Sometimes, it pays to let someone like Trump think that they have gotten away with a stealthy illegal act. It makes them bold, and careless. It is how the police conduct ‘sting’ operations. They watch and track the small stuff, and eventually nab the King pins.
    Trump will become over confident, and there needs to be a lot of scrutiny in the run up to the 2020 election. He will mess something up… And he might win, but the evidence against him will be compounded. By then, the Democrats need to have run a platform of climate change action, healthcare reforms, careful gun control, environmental protection, education, subsidy and tax breaks for startup environmentally friendly business and technology. Minimum wage must be liveable, and jobs currently exempt from minimal wages made illegal. Tipping in restaurants, hotels, bars, etc, must be at sole discretion of consumer and not expected or mandated (The 10% automatic add to a bill gone). Prices that people pay for goods in shops should have all taxes added to the price tag (helps people to see the true price before they buy). The key to success in politics, is to tell people the nitty gritty policies to help build social cohesion and trust. The rhetoric of slandering the opposition is desperate (and let’s face it, Trump is doing a lot of that), and promising silly things like ‘we’ re gonna build a wall, to keep them all out, ‘ is like trying to hold back the sea.

    The Democrats will only win, if they can make a plan that will truly help people to use their money to best effect. No fairy tales, no hate, no blasting the opposition. You gotta win it on gaining trust from everyone. Tall order, but I think it can be done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What you say is true … BUT … in this case, if we allow him to feel he has “gotten away” with something and he becomes even more bold and careless, the stakes are too high. In his position, and with his mindset, ‘bold and careless’ could lead to the unthinkable becoming reality. And, at the very least it would lead to a precedent that we do not want to set, that of the president being above the law.

      I still believe that he should be impeached, to ensure that future leaders understand they are not kings, however I think timing is critical and now is not yet the time. But, assuming that he stays in office until next year’s election, you are so right that the whole thing hinges on whether the democrats can get their act together, unite behind whichever candidate gains the nomination, and put together a platform such as the one you suggested, where the environmental issues are the highest priority, with education and health care running a close second. My fear is that they will lower themselves to the standards the republicans set with Trump’s 2016 campaign and the entire thing will turn into a mudfest rather than a serious political campaign. If that happens, this nation is doomed and ripe for destruction.

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  2. Mr. Zakaria puts forth some very valid points. Impeachment at present is not a feasible solution for the end of the reign of Trump. Although, given his ever increasing disregard for the rule of law, it may be just as risky to wait for the 2020 election in the hope of defeating him at the ballot box. I do not know the best course of action to take. What I do know is that I am so so so very very very tired of Trump! Thank-you for sharing this post!

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    • Trump plays the victim well, and can’t you just imagine if impeachment were started and then failed, how much empathy he would likely get from his base? There is no simple solution, no panacea, we are just gong to have to marshal all our resources and give it 110%. I will tell you that I don’t have a good feeling about it, but I hope I’m wrong.

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  3. Jill, I agree with following Pelosi’s instincts. More info needs to be gathered. With that said, I argue for the GOP to consider impeachment to amputate a growing gangrenous concern for our country and their party. The GOP leaders see Trump for what he is, but feel they can manage him. Yet, what they feel to realize he will only get worse. And, he has yet to face a real crisis. When Mattis left, it scared many and still does. He has been the incumbent over the highest turnover, he has many unfilled positions and a significant numbet of acting directors. And, instead of listening to his intelligence and few competent people, he listens to Sean Hannity and Fox and Friends,

    They need to follow the advice of Judge Napolitano. If they continue to acquiesce to Trump, they are endangering our democracy and their party. Keith

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    • I agree with her instincts also, for she is a smart and experienced lawmaker and has been around the block enough to understand much that some of the newbies may not. But, I don’t think we can afford to allow him to continue believing that he is above the law, for that is a dangerous precedent, and as you have pointed out, as long as he faces no challenge, he will continue to do more and more harm to this nation, especially in the areas of foreign relations and the environment. He’s got to go, if possible, but timing is everything, and just now is not, I think, the right time.

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      • Jill, if anything can reach the GOP Senate leadership it will be this is not a kingdom; Congress must do their job of oversight and condemn the abuse of power by the executive branch. They must also be critical of when the incumbent defames the office and our country. It matters not the party in charge. If they do not, they set a bad precedent and defame their own roles. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pelosi is an astute political animal ans has been playing this game for a very long time. While I may disagree with her corporate backed centrist policies, I do trust that she is acting on the best interest of her party, treading cautiously for the best possible outcome. Let’s pray she’s right!

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  4. Funny you should run this piece. There was a special on CNN last night that mirrored this article. And you’re right, it made me think as well. Like you, I’ve gone back and forth on this. I think the cautionary approach is probably best. Maybe we should trust Speaker Pelosi’s instincts. After all, she’s been at this a long time and she’s been phenomenal in this iteration as Speaker. Go slow…investigate the hell out of him..and see where we are in the next several months. Who knows? The public may change its tune once everything is out in open. It’s tough Jill. Real tough. He’s so lawless and tyrannical. Certainly the type of potus Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton feared. I’m gonna take a deep breath….and….hope Dems don’t blow this. Oye Vey!!

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    • Indeed, it is tough. On the one hand, we cannot allow him to continue believing he is above the law, for his lawlessness will only escalate, PLUS it sets a dangerous precedent for future presidents. On the other hand, if the impeachment is begun, but then there aren’t enough votes at the end of the day to impeach, we have only given him a tool that he will use every chance he gets. I want him gone … like yesterday … but I think it is best to err on the side of caution. Nancy Pelosi is a sharp, experienced woman and for the moment, I trust her judgment on this one.

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    • Exactly … it’s rather like poking a bull repeatedly … you just make it angrier and more dangerous. On the other hand, we cannot let him continue to believe he is above the law, for it would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents.

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  5. this is an interesting notion and it does seem like a pretty level headed approach while also considering something more than the short-term victory of impeachment. I’ll be interested in reading more commentary on this one. It should make for an interesting discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m still not certain … there are so many pros and cons. On the one hand, if we allow Trump to remain in office with not punitive action, we set a precedent and all presidents who follow will know that they are above the law. Nobody … NOBODY is above the law. On the other hand, impeachment will be messy and chaotic, and is likely to further divide an already divided nation. So, I’m going to watch as events unfold next week and then try to formulate a stronger opinion.

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