February 14, 2021

Trump: Guilty but not Impeached

After the American Century

For more than two centuries, impeachment of a US president has never proven possible, due to the demand that two-thirds of the Senate must vote to impeach. This leads to absurd results. The leaders of both the Republicans and Democrats consider Trump to be responsible for the attack on the Houses of Congress. All the Democratic Senators and seven Republicans voted "guilty" but their 57 votes were nullified by the votes of 43 Republicans who said Trump was not-guilty. 

There would seem to be two solutions to the problem. One is to lower the percentage of the Senators who must vote for an impeachment. The percentage should not be lowered to a simple majority, for then the power could be abused by whoever won an election to cast out prominent members of the other party. Perhaps the law might be changed to a demand that 60% of the Senators vote to impeach, and that such a vote cannot consist entirely of members of a single party.

The other alternative would be to abolish impeachment, because in practice it has proven to be an unworkable mechanism for removing knaves from power. 

The chief effect of these impeachment proceedings seems to be on the Republican Party, which remains deeply divided. The US needs two fair-minded and internally democratic parties if it is to remain a functioning democracy. 

The Republicans rapidly have evolved toward authoritarianism during the last five years, and the failure of impeachment proceedings suggests their journey into a lawless wilderness of intimidation is not yet over.