Tuesday, February 09, 2021
“Pointless Vengeance” or Punishment
Does Trump benefit from the impeachment process?
Needed by David
The impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump are unlikely to be successful. It could even play dangerously into the hands of the former US president. Why are the Democrats still trying to impeachment?
Donald Trump’s impeachment process in the US Senate starts today. But the outcome of the unprecedented second impeachment appears to be predetermined. The charges against the former US president are “incitement to rebellion”. But hardly anyone believes that Trump will end up being convicted and perhaps banned from public office forever because too many Republicans are still on his side. Therefore the question arises as to whether the procedure makes sense. In the end, could it do more good than harm to Trump?
Opponents of impeachment argue that the important political everyday life is now disrupted. After all, impeachment proceedings are the absolute exception (even if Trump is now being tried for the second time, there were only two more such processes before his term in office) and they are also serious burdens for the bureaucratic apparatus and society. This time it should only take about a week. But impeachment proceedings have always dominated Senate action in the past, leaving little energy or time for anything else.
Not only the work of the Senate, but also Joe Biden’s and the dynamics of his first few weeks in office in the Corona crisis could be hindered. The new US president, who is working these days to bring a corona aid package with a budget of 1.9 trillion US dollars with Republican support from Congress, is accordingly holding back completely with comments on impeachment and lets the Senate rule . According to the government’s request, the package is to be put together by mid-March, and Biden needs at least ten Republican senators on his side. Due to the procedure, they may now have little time for negotiations and discussions or they may be more hostile.
Trump could boast of success
Trump’s lawyers declare the impeachment process unconstitutional and call it “political theater”. The debate it has sparked – namely, that the Democrats are trying to wipe out Trump and the Republicans with impeachment – could have far-reaching consequences. The conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt even described the undertaking in the “Washington Post” as “senseless revenge” that would also be “anti-American”. Trump’s electoral base is likely to share Hewitt’s view that the Democrats “don’t care about justice and it’s not about the future”. They feel vindicated that their leader is a victim of the establishment, as he has claimed for years.
The impeachment process has brought Trump back to the center of the media and national debate. Everything is focused on the ex-president, just as he loves it. Trump can benefit from this because he has proven again and again that he can capitalize on negative attention. Should the Republican be acquitted by the Senate as expected, it would feed the conspiracy theory of the “witch hunt” against which Trump and his supporters have raged for years. That would allow him to raise even more money than the hundreds of millions he has been raking in since November by falsely labeling the 2020 presidential election as a fraud.
For the Democrats, the lost impeachment process could mean a double own goal. Trump would not only run as a presidential candidate again in 2024, as he already indicated, he could then also adorn himself with having twice defeated the “system” and twice “found innocent” (as has already happened several times after the first impeachment proceedings in 2020). His slogan of “draining the swamp” in Washington is likely to find more supporters. The Republican party could also come out of the process stronger and more resilient, which would have an impact on the 2022 midterm elections.
“Senate of Courage or Cowardice?”
Similar to Trump’s lawyers, Republican politicians try to portray the process as a democratic conspiracy, even making comparisons with the Soviet Union. If their voters see it as a “senseless revenge”, this could mean an even more extreme split in the already extremely polarized USA. Republican MP Ken Buck called the impeachment “unnecessary and inflammatory,” while his colleague Jim Jordan from Ohio said, “I don’t see how this unites the country.” In fact, some of Trump’s 74 million voters are likely to be outraged by the impeachment. People who already feel alienated could drift further into the sidelines, after all, many Trump fans without a university degree are who feel they are ignored by the powerful. They might see the trial as “revenge” not only on Trump, but on his supporters and as a punitive mission against his goals they share.
Trump enjoys almost fanatical cult status among his supporters. They admire his extremism and his eccentricity, have a completely different basis of values and facts than other parts of society. Their admiration and idealization of the former president grows with every verbal attack by his enemies. The impeachment process, whatever the outcome, will make Trump even more of a martyr for you than he already is for you. With the impeachment process, the base around Trump could gain further ties, potency and growth.
The wiser move could have been to ignore Trump and not to strengthen the community spirit of his base. However, the impeachment process probably only manages to divide the US further because the Republicans are turning the event in precisely that direction. You could also use the process to distance yourself from Trump and put him in his place. In this case, impeachment would be an important first step in bringing the two sides closer together. Through the process, the Senate Republicans are now being forced to either join the Capitol Storm or stand up against Trump. That could play a big role in upcoming elections and debates. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker for the House of Representatives, said: “We shall see if it is a Senate of courage or cowardice.”
It can also be argued that impeachment cannot worsen the polarization at all, because the opposing views are already far too deep, as the past few years have shown. So that it’s all about the sides tolerating each other. But that requires clear rules about what is unacceptable in this dispute. For example a president who stirs up an uprising against the institutions of his own country, one who rejects the results of a legitimate election and wants to violently disrupt the confirmation of the vote. So that there is clarity about what is allowed and what is not, the impeachment supporters want to document this in the process. It will also set the moral boundaries of the presidency – sending a message to future presidents who may be tempted to follow in Trump’s footsteps.
The Democrats have not let themselves be guided by the strategic considerations mentioned above, for them one thing is clear: Trump’s impeachment is the appropriate response to an attempted coup. Even after the end of his term in office, she confirmed that “nobody is above the law,” said Pelosi. The point of impeachment is that all subsequent presidents are warned that their actions will have serious consequences. In response to the Capitol Storm, both US rulers and violent supporters should never again be able to endanger American democracy and the security of the people. Regardless of the outcome, the United States is thus sending a signal to the world: that the country will hold the highest of all citizens accountable, that it will not simply go back to business as usual – and that it will not let a president get away with his dangerous actions.