Opinion | Morgan Liddick: After impeachment
On Your Right
Donald Trump will be impeached. He will not be convicted. He very well might be reelected. Then what?
That is the question no one talks about because it introduces the possibility of America’s collapse. Alarmist? No. According to the Pew Research Center, our political parties disagree completely about national priorities. Recent work by the Brookings Institution indicates political division is becoming personal. Mothers who are Democrats don’t want their daughters to marry Republicans — and vice versa. We’re talking at, not to, one another, and the volume is quickly rising. If this were a Christmas dinner conversation, Aunt Rose (with the eyepatch and NFL linebacker physique) would politely suggest that we take it outside. Or else. But for us, there’s no outside to go to.
We’ve been divided before. For 20 years before 1860, Americans debated slavery with a rising vehemence that would put Rashida Tlaib to shame. And after the war, the rancor didn’t subside. The first presidential impeachment in American history came and went, and the animosity only increased. By the election of 1876, the cry was “Tilden or blood!” and it was possible that the election of Rutherford B. Hayes would spawn widespread violence, if not armed insurrection. It took the election of James Garfield, his assassination and lingering death to finally reunify the country.
We had divisions over the Vietnam War, but without the reconciliation, the disputants ran out of steam and withdrew to their various enclaves to sulk. The resignation of Richard Nixon and eventual election of Ronald Reagan brought balm to the respective factions and new issues to argue over, so Vietnam’s divisions quieted but didn’t die. Every international conflict in which our nation was involved from 1975 until today was cast in terms of the war we decided we didn’t want to win. Antiwar sentiment was rampant on college campuses in the ’60s, and as it faded, those who had acquired a taste for dogmatic opposition to just about everything found other targets to attack. Those who founded and fuel today’s “resist” movement see it as a reincarnation of those heady days of politics by riot, and to hell with consequences. It’s “Tilden or Blood” all over, without the unifying death of Garfield.
There are only two outcomes to an impeachment trial in the Senate. Neither is particularly good for Democrats, and both are poisonous for the republic. A trial will be brutal in ways we can only imagine. Adam Schiff and Gerald Nadler might both be subpoenaed and questioned under circumstances very unlike those they enjoyed in the House. Joe and Hunter Biden might be questioned, too, together with a raft of others, especially if the House Judiciary Committee is foolish enough to include material from the Mueller report. Nobody, repeat, nobody, will escape unscathed from this ugly spectacle. Then, there will be a vote.
If 30 or so Republican senators die in a mysterious plane crash an hour before the Senate vote, Donald Trump might be the first president to be removed from office. Do those cheering that idea really think the issues he raised and the fractures he revealed in the national polity will vanish with him? If they do, they really ought to stop smoking that stuff. Trump’s removal by what has revealed itself as America’s ruling class — a pastiche of liberal politicians, high-level bureaucrats and popular media chatterers with an enormous sense of self-importance and utter contempt for those Americans not accepting their right to rule — will only deepen and widen the fury of the half of the electorate supporting the president.
If, as is far more likely, Trump is tried in the Senate and acquitted for lack of evidence, what will be the response of those who struck repeatedly at the president but could not oust him? Is there any chance their attitude will be, “Well, that’s that. We presented our stuff, and it was found lacking. Back to work.” Not a scintilla. Instead, they will continue to try to destroy the president and erase his works because, as James Rosen posited to Nancy Pelosi, they hate him. Will this mob, wound up for three years and screaming for blood, simply fade away? Not a chance on earth. The only question is, what or who will be their next target?
They will undoubtedly clamor to enhance “democracy.” They may even finally force our nation to become a “democracy,” ensuring it will, as John Adams observed, soon “exhaust and murder itself.”
Enjoy the spectacle, everyone. After the circus, bread.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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