A liberal friend of mine has been saying since Trump’s election “If we let this guy finish his term, it will be a stain on our country forever. We’ve got to get him out of office.” Hours after being sworn in, Michigan Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib was more direct. “We’re going to impeach the MotherF–er.”
From the moment Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election, Democrats have been trying to end his term in office. On December 15, 2016, a month before Trump was sworn into office, Vanity Fair ran an article entitled “Democrats Are Paving the Way to Impeach Donald Trump.” Rather than the traditional activities of the losing side — opposing the winner’s policies and trying to defeat him in the next election — the Democrats made impeachment their goal from the start.
This is not normal. Never before has impeachment been the immediate response to a Presidential election. Until now, the decision to impeach always arose after some action by the President. Andrew Johnson fired a cabinet secretary without the consent of Congress; Bill Clinton was accused of committing perjury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky; Richard Nixon resigned before being impeached, but he would have been impeached over his acts to cover up the nature of the Watergate break-in. This is the first time “Impeach the President” was the plan even before the inauguration.
So far nothing has stuck, not the Russian collusion story, or the obstruction of justice offshoot, or Stormy Daniels, or his connections to businesses operating in foreign countries. The Biden-Ukraine story may do the trick, although I have read the transcript of Trump’s conversation with the Ukraine president and it does not seem to justify removing him from office. I was more surprised to learn that the son of the Vice President of the United States was paid $50,000 a month to serve on a Ukraine oil company’s board of directors.
This is more dangerous than we may realize. A democracy depends on each side agreeing to accept losing elections. In their single-minded determination to get rid of Trump, Democrats are unwittingly changing that. They are setting a precedent — a new normal – wherein losing means starting the hunt for a way to end the winner’s term in office. The United States will not be a healthy democracy if, after every election, the opposition immediately puts on “Impeach the MF” T-shirts (now available from Representative Tlaib’s re-election campaign HQ).
That’s a bigger problem than Trump. The nation can survive Trump. It cannot survive political opponents refusing to accept losing an election. If that is the new normal, we are in trouble.