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Why are senior Democrats so afraid of Impeachment?



I have to admit I don’t understand the reluctance of a good part of Democratic Party leadership to be in favor of Impeachment. Here in the Bay Area, the former San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown, who is still a force to be reckoned with, on numerous occasions has cautioned Democrats against pursuing it. “You are not going to get another ‘All the President’s Men’ out of this story.” Another Democrat, House Minority Leader (and future Speaker?) Nancy Pelosi, recently told CNN that impeaching Trump “is not someplace I think we should go.” Her House colleague, Jerry Nadler, the powerful and veteran New York pol who is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee (which would handle impeachment), similarly commented, Impeachment, it’s not something you ought to welcome. It’s not something you ought to be ready to — it’s not something you want.” Another House Democrat, the backbencher, Rep. Cheri Bustos, also opposes impeachment. In her case, it’s not hard to figure out why: her district, Illinois’s 17th, is a swing district, having been in Republican hands as recently as 2011. Bustos doesn’t want to offend her more conservative-leaning constituents.

But Pelosi? Nadler? She represents San Francisco, for Chrissake; he’s the congressman from New York’s 10th: TriBeCa, Greenwich Village, SoHo. These two representatives have no conservative-leaning constituents. So what’s their excuse for being so vocally anti-impeachment?

You have to assume their reasons start and end with politics. Whether or not Pelosi et al. believe Trump has done impeachable things, they’ve arrived at the conclusion that, for the time being, coming out in favor of impeachment would hurt the party’s chances of retaking the House and Senate in the November elections. They’re reading the same voter opinion surveys I am: the most recent polling I could find (Dec. 5) finds only 40% of Americans believe Trump should be impeached. Women and minorities favor impeachment by more sizable numbers, but the great white whale of political demographics—the white male—remains supportive of Trump.

This no doubt is what Pelosi has in mind when her fertile mind explores the possibility of reclaiming her Speakership. But here’s what I don’t understand. Those white men aren’t going to abandon Trump no matter what, so why would any politician waste time sucking up to them? Haven’t we seen that it’s a fruitless task to try and win over Trump supporters? They don’t like Democrats or liberals; in fact, they despise us. When you’ve been utterly repudiated and rejected by someone, it’s silly to turn the other cheek and try to win them back with smiles. That’s for religion, and politics is emphatically not religion.

The truth is, Pelosi hasn’t truthfully come out and stated publicly why she’s so down on impeachment. When she speaks for the record, it’s with meaningless platitudes: impeaching Trump is “not what it’s about” because “it’s about the well-being of American families.” Such rhetorical pablum serves no purpose whatever, and only demeans the tens of millions of loyal Democrats who do want to see Trump impeached. Does this suggest that Pelosi, who is almost 78, is too old and out-of-touch? Each of us has to answer that for ourselves.

Maybe Pelosi et al. know more than we do about what Mueller is really finding, and about what he is going to reveal. Maybe they fear that the most Mueller will say about the president is that he displayed poor judgment and came close to violating U.S. laws, but never actually did. A Democratic Party that put all its chips on Mueller finding impeachable or indictable offenses by Trump might indeed be devastated by having Trump get off scott-free. Imagine how he would crow! Maybe Pelosi simply wishes to avoid that embarrassment. Whatever her reasons, when and if she becomes Madame Speaker, starting in January, 2019, Pelosi is going to have to realize that the American people elected Democrats in large part to impeach Donald Trump. If she even believes her “not someplace we should go” nonsense, she’s going to have to disabuse herself of that notion when and if Dems take back the House. The law, not campaigning, must guide her.

Look, you can’t predicate your behavior on what may or may not happen. In politics, as in life, people who firmly believe themselves to be in the right ought not to be afraid to stand up for their beliefs, without fear of the consequences. The best way for the Democratic Party to stand up is to come out strongly, now, in favor of impeachment, and then, if the House turns to them, to hold far-reaching, public hearings. It’s the right thing to do, and would resonate across broad swaths of America, and reassure the world that America really is a Constitutional republic, and not a banana republic. Those of us who do want to see this regime toppled need to keep sending our Senators and representatives a clear message: We expect you to impeach Trump. We will remember, and we vote.


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