HORIST: The danger of politically weaponizing impeachment
The impeachment process of the United States Constitution is onerous on purpose. It requires the targeted individual to have committed one of those ill-defined “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This means that public officials like the President, Vice President and federal judges – to name a few – can be removed from office for almost any reason IF there is enough POLITICAL foundation. It is not a judicial or criminal process.
The reason why our Founders made it a very difficult process is because they well understood that an unfettered impeachment procedure could and would be used to nullify elections. Every time an opposition party gained control of the United States House of Representatives, they could create politically beneficial chaos by impeaching a President of the opposite party. If the opposition party should have control of both the House and Senate, they could remove a President from office for purely political objectives.
We have protected our Republic from capricious impeachment-based political coups by making the process difficult, AND by a tradition of respecting the outcomes of election. We have avoided serious political violence and coups because we have perfected a peaceful method of overthrowing the government – elections.
When Congressman Adam Clayton Powell was re-elected to the House after having been bounced out, he was allowed to be seated because it was the will of the people – even though he was the same reprobate that had been previously booted. The only federal judge to ever be removed from office via impeachment, Alcee Hastings, is currently a member of Congress because that was the will of the people.
For an impeachment to be undertaken, there must be three factors. There must be some perceived offense of some kind, even if it is nothing more than political poppycock. There must be sufficient votes in both the House and Senate to impeach and remove. And most importantly, there must be a public approval of that process.
President Bill Clinton was impeached for his sexual misconduct and for his guilty plea to perjury. However, he and the Democrats were sufficiently popular that removal was not politically feasible. We can recall that President Richard Nixon resigned ahead of a seemingly likely impeachment by the House. However, most observers and historians believe that the Senate would not have removed him from office – but that is hindsight opinion.
President Andrew Johnson, the racist Democrat Vice President under Abraham Lincoln, was impeached for his drunkenness and his policies favoring the leaders of the defeated Confederacy, but he was not removed from office by the Republican majority in the Senate.
It is noteworthy that in the almost first 200 years of the Republic, we had only one presidential impeachment – and that was with considerable justification – and no removals from office. In the past 45 years, we have had one forced resignation and one impeachment. More recently, there have been innumerable politically motivated calls for the impeachment of President Trump – calls that started the day after his election.
As part of the effort to topple Trump’s conservative administration, there are threats of impeachment against Judge Kavanaugh before he is even seated on the Supreme Court.
Jonathan Alter, one of the voices of the radical left – and therefore a frequent contributor on MSNBC – has called for the yet-to-be-elected Democrat majority in the House to immediately impeach Kavanaugh should he be serving on the high court in the future. Alter conceded that it is unlikely that the Senate would remove Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court, however. That admission means that his proposed impeachment is motivated by political partisanship, not high crimes and misdemeanors.
Alter’s objective is to disrupt the legally elected national leadership. He wants to spread chaos as a crass political tactic and as a means of delegitimatizing the duly elected administration. He will cast aside tradition, constitutionality and our American version of justice to gain power for his ilk.
To gain any credibility for his premature call for a Kavanaugh impeachment, Alter is willing to upend critical protections provided by rule-of-law and the concept that a person is innocent – not maybe, but truly innocent – until PROVEN guilty.
Like a judge in a kangaroo court, Alter declares that Kavanaugh’s impeachable offenses are perjured statements even though none of Kavanaugh’s statements appear to rise to the level of criminal perjury. They are only the product of Alter’s biased mind. But then again, Alter is a left-wing political activist and journalist (propagandist). He is not a lawyer.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters has made impeachment her political rallying call – and she says that as soon as Trump is impeached and removed from office, she will campaign for the impeachment of Vice President Mike Pence. Since Pence has not been accused of any wrongdoing, it is obvious that Waters’ sees impeachment as a means of removing people she opposes politically. If that is the standard under some future Democrat-controlled Congress, the Republic is gone.
These proposed abuses of the impeachment process need to be viewed in conjunction with the equally disingenuous attempts to impose the 25th Amendment to oust Trump. It is more politically motivated folly.
These efforts by the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement pose the great threat to our system of government. Their unrelenting actions to nullify the 2016 election represent the greatest assault on the electoral process since the Civil War. They attack the very pillars of the Republic in pursuit of power.
One can only hope that this dangerous authoritarian resistance movement will ebb before it does permanent damage to the ability of we the people, not an elitists political movement, to pick our leaders in free and respected elections.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.