Under Article I of the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach and the Senate the power to try and judge the case. The case of impeachment can only extend to the removal of office, where officials will then be able to be tried in the judicial court. In the history of the United States Constitution, only two presidents have been formally impeached- Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Former President Johnson was not convicted in the Senate nor was Former President Clinton. Speaker Pelosi’s claims on the subject of impeaching President Trump, then, are backed by history. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.” Pelosi recognizes that impeachment is a far fetching idea that history shows little results. However, her interview with the Washington Post sets a difficult precedent to overcome in the years to follow.
Speaker Pelosi’s comments have now shed light on the political nightmare that is impeachment. Although the Constitution clearly outlines the rules for impeachment, the contemporary application of it is much more political. After all, in today’s political climate, there have been 0 votes from the Republican party to bring charges of impeachment nor has there been any mention of even doing so. Why, then, is there a huge push from the left to charge impeachment? The reading from Hofstadter would argue it is the paranoia of American politics. Americans believe that there are a fundamental right and wrong, in politics, government, even life, and it is the responsibility of the government to suppress the wrong. What results from this ‘concrete’ definition of right and wrong is the paranoia of always finding the wrong and ‘draining the swamp.’ The paranoia the left is experiencing is natural when their party isn’t in power. The fear that Dahl’s democratic bargain will not be honored forces the Democratic party to turn to impeachment in a hail-Mary attempt. It seems natural, then, to charge Donald Trump with impeachment.
This is where Speaker Pelosi offers the cleareyed opinion that there simply isn’t enough substance to charge President Trump. At the time of the New York Times story used as a base to this assignment, the Mueller Report was not released. If it were to contain positive claims of Russian collusion, then it could turn the tide on the impeachment. The report would have had to contain an offense so great it breaches the gap between the two parties and force bipartisanship. However, the actuality of the report shows that no collusion was found, and President Trump is exonerated. Because of these findings, President Trump will use this as a political win during his reelection campaign.
Some supporters of the impeachment movement could argue that Speaker Pelosi’s comments are unrealistic, such as Tom Steyer, a Californian billionaire donor to the cause. He quickly issued a statement on Twitter rejecting the claims of the representative, “Is defending our legal system ‘worth it?’ Is holding the President accountable ‘worth it?’ Is doing what’s right ‘worth it?’” He isn’t alone in his spearheaded effort, although, the evidence is against him. For example, the most recent Gallup survey reporting 90% approval rating among Republicans, the history of impeachments in the past 230 years, as well as the backing of the democratic safeguards in place such as the supermajority required in Senate and the bipartisanship required to attain it. Unfortunately, it seems improbable that President Trump will be impeached during his term.
Although the opposition to Speaker Pelosi’s comments seems ungrounded, her comments are going to extend further than just President Trump. Joshua Matz, an author of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,” stated that the lack of charging impeachment could create a disturbing precedent, yet another failed attempt 20 years after Clinton would be even more disastrous. Pelosi’s comments have opened the door to the potential failure of one of the greatest democratic guard rails, as the line between impeachable offense and non-impeachable offense has blurred. Not only that, her comments have allowed President Trump to feed into his extremist rhetoric, as proposed by Gutmann. President Trump tweeted in response to her comments, “I greatly appreciate Nancy Pelosi’s statement against impeachment, but everyone must remember the minor fact that I never did anything wrong, the Economy and Unemployment are the best ever, Military and Vets are great – and many other successes!” The ability to feed into the populist rhetoric by downplaying the vindictive comments shows how dangerous her comments can be.
The reasons for Speaker Pelosi condemning the idea of bringing charges of impeachment to the House floor are backed by facts, history, and the realization that the current political climate is not healthy enough to support the charge. However, her comments have opened up a door that can be used to protect future presidents and their unconstitutional acts. After all, if President Trump and all he has done is not condemnable under the constitution, what’s there to stop the next President from doing something worse?