Impeaching Trump Isn’t Just A Political Decision—It’s A Moral One

When it comes to the decision of whether to impeach President Trump, moral fiber and constitutional necessity must overcome political calculation and fear.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and President Donald Trump (AP and Wikimedia Commons)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and President Donald Trump (AP and Wikimedia Commons)

At the end of the constitutional convention, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin: “Well, Doctor what we got, a republic or a monarchy?”

“A republic,” replied Franklin, “If you can keep it.”

From the start, the Framers recognized the fragility of the Constitution they worked so hard to write. They knew that its effectiveness would always depend on the people themselves. We would always have to guard its norms and guardrails.

No other country had dared such an “experiment.” In 1787, monarchy was the norm. Sadly, in 2019, despots are becoming the norm. Yet we have a special mission: to keep the constitution alive and breathing. To not lose our republic.

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Through a historical lens, how do we —today —judge our forebears? Is it not through their courage, honesty, and moral fiber and their dedication to creating and keeping our republic?

Our Founders dreaded nothing as much as a return to the monarchy and George III. The fight didn’t end there. For the ensuing two and a half centuries, our nation has fended off numerous attacks to our democracy. We didn’t just fight external wars; we had numerous assaults from within.

This is not to say we have a perfect republic. Our job is to continually develop its potential. We cannot lose it. We should not lose it.

Many of us look at impeachment as the only viable option to combat the unprecedented corruption of President Trump. Others say we should wait for the next election and vote Trump out.

But suppose he wins? Russia is still interfering. More to the point, how much are we willing to stand up for the rule of law? We stand at a crossroads: political calculation vs the demand of the constitution. The Framers worked long and hard on the impeachment clause. They did not want it to be easy and constructed a tricameral approach: House, Senate, Judiciary involved.

Politicians worry about how that will affect elections. They also assume that trends today will last. John Heilemann, a political commentator, used a wonderful term to describe politics today; “the fallacy of static analysis.”

Because the world is never static. We cannot predict change — except that change happens, swiftly. Not all issues can wait. If no one throws on the brakes, we are heading to the abyss.

Worst case scenario for impeachment: the House investigates, educates that public, votes to impeach; the Senate does not convict, the president remains in office.

History teaches us not to expect a Republican wave in such a case. And even if Trump is not removed from office, he will always be the president with an asterisk.

But we — and especially our leaders —cannot afford to wait much longer. Moral fiber and necessity must overcome political calculation and fear.

Throughout time, heroes act in the moment, when they are needed. They know they could fail and often at the cost of their lives. Impeachment won’t cost lives. Careers? How much is a political career worth at the cost of the republic?

We must keep this message before the people and before our leaders. And we cannot forget Ben Franklin’s concern: we have a republic, if we can keep it.

Can we?

Franklin exchange from the diary of James McHenry, a delegate to the constitutional convention.

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Opinion // Constitution / Donald Trump / Founding Fathers / House Democrats / Impeachment / Opinion