by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [R]elying on impeachment as the go-to response to presidential overreach — real or alleged — has manifest downsides.
To build their political case, Democrats frame every dispute with President Trump in dire terms: proof of his unfitness and the imperative of removing him. No misstep is too trivial. The president’s supporters, to the contrary, are incentivized to defend the president, even when they should be trying to convince him to change course. They do not want to be seen as implicitly supporting the impeachment effort, so every misstep, even ones that are serious though not egregious enough to warrant impeachment, must be defended rather than corrected. And the president — especially one with Trump’s persona, which is always to attack and never to confess error — is encouraged to double down on his mistakes, lest his changing course be seen as an implied admission of misconduct that strengthens the impeachment case. …
… The Democrats’ euphoria will be short-lived. There will be deep, bitter public protest because impeachment, on the facts before us, is objectively foolhardy. Trump’s missteps do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. If they did, Democrats would not fear voting to conduct the impeachment inquiry, and they would proudly hold their hearings in public with due process, rather than behind closed doors with selective leaking.
Moreover, we are just one year out from an election in which, if Trump is as bad as Democrats say, the voters will remove him. Yet, Trump’s approval rating hovers at around 43 percent, close to what Obama’s was a year before his reelection. Trump could certainly lose, but he stands a decent chance of being reelected. Hence far from a strong public consensus for his removal, there will be zealous public protest against impeachment by a significant segment of the public.