The idea is abroad in the land that Nancy Pelosi has some specific strategy for not impeaching Donald Trump, despite huge evidence that he has committed multiple impeachable offenses.
One explanation of this alleged strategy is that she sees impeachment as divisive and hopes to unite the country around some mythical middle ground.
The problem with this idea is that she fails to understand what it means to be a leader.
We hear much wailing and lamentations these days about “our democracy,” but we do not have a democracy. We have a republic. The most famous explication of how our republic is supposed to work comes from James Madison’s Federalist number ten, in which he explains how he thinks representation will serve to prevent the new United States under the new Constitution from falling prey to the evils of factions.
Madison and the other Founders were frankly elitist. They thought representation would produce a better government because they believed the citizens would allow only the best sort to govern. The best sort in their minds meant only property owning white men. We disagree with them on this point, or most of us do. One thinks maybe Trump might agree, if he were aware of the idea, even though he is a walking refutation of the claim, being a bumbling, incompetent, property owning white man who should never have become president.
Most of us believe that gender, race, and property ownership should play no role in eligibility to serve as leaders in our republic. Whatever one may think about Pelosi’s poor strategy at the moment, she has clearly served effectively as both a member of the House of Representatives, and as Speaker of the House, her gender notwithstanding, and her gender is not why she is mistaken in her approach to the question of impeachment. Before Trump, we had eight years of an above average president in the first African American to occupy the office.
But we still rely on representation in our government, at both the state and federal levels. Representatives are supposed to reflect the beliefs and preferences of their constituents, but they are also supposed to provide leadership. They should have a perspective that the rest of us do not have and be able to point us in the right direction. This is where Pelosi is failing.
She apparently is worried about public support for impeachment, and rightly so. What she misses is that creating public support for impeachment is her job, and that conducting an impeachment investigation is an excellent way to do that. The investigation itself will produce documents and testimony that will lead the public to see why we need to remove Trump from the presidency and might even sway enough Senators to support that position for actual removal to become possible.
The obvious historical precedents are too obvious to ignore. Andrew Johnson, the first president to undergo impeachment, offers little help because the circumstances of his impeachment were so peculiar that his was not terribly relevant.
The impeachments of Bill Clinton is not a great example because it was so obviously political and contrived. Even if he lied to investigators, which is not trivial for a president, the underlying event he lied about was too trivial and tawdry to merit the kind of examination the Republicans dragged the country through with their impeachment of him.
The conduct that Nixon was trying to hide, his attempt to conceal his connection to a criminal act that members of his campaign staff performed, was central to his power as president and was not trivial by any measure. And here is where Pelosi insults our intelligence. She seems to think that the public will not be able to see the gravity of Trump’s crimes and why they require us to impeach Trump.
She has a responsibility to explain this to those of us who do not already understand it. No one can explain the point to loyal Trump supporters because they are beyond reason. The rest of the country, however, needs to see, via hearings with documents and testimony, just how deep the rot runs in the Trump administration. Trump’s crimes far exceed Nixon’s in number and severity. Trump continues to obstruct justice daily even now. He keeps handing Pelosi new evidence every time he refuses to comply with a subpoena from the House. Pelosi said as much a month ago, yet the House has failed to follow up with any action that is commensurate with the gravity of the offense.
Pelosi needs to prove that she is a leader and stop insulting the intelligence of the voting public. Trump’s crimes are many and severe. She needs to start showing them to us and explaining them. We will understand.
Pelosi needs to impeach Trump.