The Arc of the Moral Universe Must Bend Towards Impeachment

Seriously, enough is enough.

If Donald Trump’s effort to have Robert Mueller fired isn’t enough to justify his impeachment and removal of office, nothing is. If the House and Senate changes hands in November, the new Democratic majority will have a strong moral and legal mandate to hold this man accountable.

Not removing Trump from power—choosing to shirk Constitutional responsibilities because of the inherent difficulty of an impeachment effort—would be the equivalent of allowing cancer to go untreated because of the inherent difficulty of chemotherapy. This cannot go on. Our country cannot bear this level of madness.

Progressive activists are right to be upset over the Democratic Party’s perceived failure of nerve with regard to the recent government shutdown. If Democrats weren’t willing to go to the mattresses to force the Republican majority to do right by DACA beneficiaries, how can one expect Democrats to go to the mattresses to hold Trump accountable? Progressive activists want resolve and fortitude from Democrats, not reluctance and forfeiting.

If Democrats win back the House and Senate this fall, they will face history’s profound dishonor if they choose not to impeach on the grounds that a portion of the American electorate will consider impeachment extreme. Not impeaching this Forrest-Gump-from-hell of a President would be an act of extremism. Democrats who choose not to impeach will face the damnation of future generations; they will be regarded as complicit in the degradation of our democracy, cowards who conceded to craziness.

We know Republicans will never move to impeach. Trump is their golden idol, their iconic hero, their lord and savior. They worship Trump the way little kids used to worship Michael Jordan. As long as they’re in power, he will be in power.

However, what will happen to our national soul if Democrats win control of the House and Senate, yet fail to impeach? George W. Bush was never held accountable for the prevarications that killed and maimed thousands. The Democratic failure to impeach Bush was a travesty. Letting Trump off the hook will be just as much of a travesty.

Trump unaccountable will be Trump unbound, free to bomb and bluster without shame or scruple. He will know that Democrats didn’t have the guts to to hold him in Constitutional check. He will know that the Democratic Party is full of the proverbial sound and fury, signifying nothing. He will know that he cannot he stopped.

What will Democrats who give up on trying to impeach say if an unrepentant and unrestrained Trump further escalates tensions with North Korea, leading to nuclear war? “Oops”? “Our bad”? “It was too hard”? “There was too much political risk”?

What political risk? After all, what damage did Republicans actually sustain by moving to impeach Bill Clinton two decades ago? They won in 2000 (well, kinda), 2002 and 2004 in part because their base–thrilled by the effort to impeach–knew that if elected, they would take the fight to Democrats. Why not signal a similar commitment to taking the fight to Republicans?

Even if the effort to remove Trump from office fails, it will be worth it. Democrats will know that they committed themselves to a righteous cause–the protection of our precious democracy from a would-be despot. They will prove that they cannot be intimidated by Beltway tut-tutters and right-wing liars. They will be able to sleep with a clear conscience, knowing that they fought for justice.

If Democrats win back the House and Senate, they will face a choice between judgment and honor: the judgment of future generations, who will brand them as gutless wonders for failing to hold a political criminal accountable, or the honor of future generations, who will laud them the way we laud those who fought for civil and human rights. The moral case for impeachment is clear. The legal case for impeachment is clear. Republicans are obviously deaf to the Constitution’s cry for justice. If they win big in November, will Democrats also claim to suffer from hearing loss?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.