Saturday, September 28, 2019

A System of Checks and Balances

It’s no secret that I never liked - or respected - Donald Trump.  Aware that he won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by 3 million, I felt that he was a barely legitimate president, one whose term in office should be governed by a sense of the fragility of his hold on the White House. 
But from the outset of his term in office, Trump seemed utterly unwilling to acknowledge this reality, let alone govern as if it was important.  The national divide that was present on Election Day 2016 would only grow larger.  At this writing it seems a chasm we may never bridge.

I didn’t call for impeachment the day Trump took office and for some months afterward.  Though I was increasingly horrified by his Administration, and confident that he had earned impeachment through the emolument clause at minimum, I didn’t think impeachment was the answer.  I thought that checks and balances would work.  I found a partial answer in the Congressional elections of 2018, when Democrats and Nancy Pelosi took control of the House of Representatives.  I felt better, as if there might be some credible check on an increasingly incompetent and self-serving president. But I still withheld my support for impeachment.

It’s only been in the past few months, as Trump’s incompetencies have grown greater and more dangerous; as our national divide has followed, that I supported an impeachment investigation.  In my case, it’s been less about the emoluments clause or the obvious high crimes and misdemeanors than it has been Trump’s absolute unwillingness to acknowledge the limits on his power.  He’s a tyrant with authoritarian aspirations and no sense that there is a boundary to his authority.

And then came the Ukrainian phone call revelations.  None of it was surprising, though I’ll confess some shock at the GOP’s continued willingness to support this president and their party-above-national interest-position.  I understand that the House impeachment inquiry poses the risk of being political; that it’s unlikely to end with a Senate conviction.  At this juncture, that’s not the point.  Impeachment is political.  But so is our current crisis.

The point is that we have a Constitution that organizes, demands, and can only function effectively with checks and balances in practice.  The last three years has me fearful that the check and balance tradition has been smashed beyond repair.  A House investigation and impeachment inquiry are the only chance we have to restore the balance; too once again have a Constitutional government.  So I support the House impeachment inquiry in the strong belief that such an inquiry is the only way we can preserve the American system.

If that sounds dramatic, it is.  As a nation, we are at the crossroads.  If we wish to be a nation with Constitutional checks and balances, we must take action.  The option on the table is impeachment.  I support it.

No comments: