Without a doubt, President Trump is the single most incompetent and sleazy leader this country has ever had. Sure, James Buchanan effectively sat there and let the Civil War start, and sure, Richard Nixon illegally broke into the DNC to spy on his opponents, but at least they could provide a day-to-day illusion of seriousness and sensibility. Trump, on the other hand, consistently acts in a ridiculous and unprofessional manner that repeatedly harms the safety, stability, and perception of our country. So, if The Donald is so astronomically bad at his job, why does he still have it? Isn’t it the duty of the American people to call him out on the plethora of questionable legal and moral actions he continues to commit and remove him from office? While impeaching our biggest national embarrassment would be great, the odds of successfully evicting Trump from the White House are so low that impeachment is a big waste of time. After being “exonerated” by the Mueller report, the chances of Trump being legally convicted are negligible, and his chances of resigning out of shame are even lower. Instead of focusing on forcing Trump from office, Democrats and other progressive-minded individuals should focus on the cleaner and more legitimate method of voting Trump out of office.
Historically, no president has actually been removed from office via impeachment. This is because presidential impeachment doesn’t equate a conviction, merely an accusation. Once a president has been impeached, they have to be tried and declared guilty by the Senate for any legal punishment to actually occur. The proceedings have never gotten this far, however, because the humiliation of being charged with a crime is usually enough to cause the accused president to resign of their own accord. But, as we have seen time and time again, humiliation isn’t something that The Donald feels (or at least expresses). No matter how many scandals he is embroiled in, or how many lewd and rude comments he makes, Trump never admits he was wrong. Therefore, in the case that the Democratic-controlled House does successfully impeach Trump, the odds of him accepting defeat and stepping down are infinitesimal. It’s more likely that he would continue to fight the charges, forcing the Senate to actually hold a trial for him. Now that the Mueller report has eliminated the possibility of collusion with the Russians, there is no charge sufficiently important to shake Trump’s support base enough that they would let Senate Republicans impeach the president without repercussions. Therefore, if Trump goes to trial on grounds such as obstruction of justice, the most likely outcome is that he would be declared innocent by the Republican-controlled Senate.
In the case that such a situation occurs, it would spell doom for the Democrats, as Trump and his Republican cronies wouldn’t hesitate to brand the left as dirty cheats eager to falsely smear their innocent president’s honor. Now that a (supposedly) impartial outsider has cleared Trump’s name, any attempts to remove him from office will seem baseless and illegal. Since the Democrats have no concrete basis for impeachment other than their strong dislike of the president, Trump will finally have some substance to his cry of witch hunt. With the elections coming up, it’s essential that the Democrats avoid another Elizabeth-Warren-DNA-test-type political debacle that might harm the chances of a Democrat booting Trump out of office.
In fact, the 2020 election should be the biggest focus of Democratic leaders opposed to Trump. Not only is an election victory better than an impeachment victory because it puts a Democrat in the Oval Office, but an electoral victory is also unequivocally clean. Even though recent electoral meddling, gerrymandering, and voter suppression have all begun to erode the legitimacy of the American electoral process, winning the vote of the people still acts as a clear litmus test for the will of the nation. If Trump is somehow actually impeached and convicted, you can be sure that he won’t accept the verdict as legitimate, and that he and his loyal base of support will continue to paint the Democrats as the cheats who stole Trump’s presidency. If the president is voted out of office, however, he’ll have a much more difficult time convincing people that his loss was fake news. Of course, he’ll try, but our entire governmental system is based on the legitimacy of the election, so it will be difficult for him to corrupt an idea so ingrained in the heads of many Americans. Furthermore, an electoral victory would signify that the new Democratic president has the support of the people, legitimating the actions of the (hopefully) new executive.
While Trump may be a terrible president, his support base remains consistently loyal, consequently tethering many Republican members of Congress as extensions of their constituents. Therefore, instead of assaulting Trump’s base of support and trying to win them over, Democrats should instead focus on growing their own base and proving themselves worthy of the same level of loyalty that The Donald commands. With the party facing a crowded primary, as well as an internal crisis of direction, the left has too much on their hands to waste time pursuing a pipe dream like impeachment.
Daniel Knopf is a member of the Class of 2022 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.