Seventeen slaughtered in Florida — and Republicans in Congress won’t consider reasonable gun restrictions that most gun owners support. Our Republican president pitches improved mental health services while gutting mental health programs and firearm restrictions for the mentally ill.
The Republican-run Senate fails to agree on protecting Dreamers, immigrants brought here illegally as children, even though the vast majority of Americans don't want them deported and even though President Trump promised to help them.
The president, having pooh-poohed Russian election subversion as a “hoax” just five months ago, now tweets that he didn’t collude with the 13 Putin flunkies indicted for illegal interference in 2016’s election.
It boggles the mind that all of this political malpractice was just last week, and that its scope made allegations of an elaborate network to cover up Trump's extramarital affairs seem as ho-hum as an overdue library book.
Unwilling or unable to carry out the people’s will, legalize Dreamers, and, in the president’s case, muster any concern about Russia, our leaders’ paralysis demands two extreme solutions: First, all American voters, including Republicans, should vote for Democrats for Congress this fall — no exceptions. Second, assuming Democrats take Congress, they should impeach Donald J. Trump.
This two-step doesn’t cancel other worthy ideas, such as my Cognoscenti colleague Miles Howard’s call for students to sue Uncle Sam for negligence over school shootings.
But — I say this as an anti-Trump Republican — the GOP has become a beehive for bigots on immigration, a ventriloquist’s dummy for donors like the National Rifle Association and an enabler of a president who reacts to foreign election tampering with what, me worry? So any reasonable action on these issues is out of reach without upending the party’s power structure.
The idea of robotically voting for Democrats comes from two heretofore nonpartisan writers, Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes. Citing Trump’s equivocation about Russian meddling in our election and his attempts to misuse or undermine justice investigations, Rauch and Wittes argue that “the Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy.”
Pushback to their “everyone-vote-Democratic” argument focused on the efforts of congressional Republicans to thwart Trump’s more authoritarian impulses. Granted. But coming up empty-handed on preventing schoolchildren’s deaths? Stalemated on helping immigrants who’ve done nothing wrong and contribute to the country? Working with a president who can’t get his story straight on a foreign adversary’s hacking our elections? This is putting lives and the national security in jeopardy.
And that’s just in the last week. You can add Republicans’ fanatical hostility to scientific consensus on climate change, or their embrace of a thug like Roy Moore or their mission to disenfranchise voters. This is not a party of patriots.
Some may blame Democrats equally for Washington’s inability to legislate. They’re wrong.
Which brings us to impeachment. The Founders didn’t intend it solely in cases of presidential lawbreaking. They endorsed removal from office for manifest unfitness that threatened the nation. From serial lying, to appointing incompetent officials and that authoritarian bent I mentioned, Trump has long practiced impeachable (in the Founders’ eyes) behaviors.
His indifference to attacks on our elections further puts the country at risk. So does his devil-may-care recklessness about gun violence. While gun control isn’t the only way to address school shootings, Trump’s double-talk on mental illness suggests he doesn’t have any solution. He seems to be winging it, tiptoeing toward improved background checks for gun sales and banning bump stocks, worthy but tardy and insufficient measures.
Giving Congress to the Democrats would hobble his ability to do further damage, but it wouldn't strip Trump of the powers of the presidency: veto pen, control of our justice and national security apparatus, etc.
Impeachment would be a response to an incompetent and amoral sloth who’s a clear threat to the nation.
Some may blame Democrats equally for Washington’s inability to legislate. They’re wrong. Yes, after the Sandy Hook school massacre, there were Democrats who joined Republicans to block tighter gun regulation. But you have to burrow deep down the list of top congressional recipients of NRA largesse to find a Democrat. As New York Times reporter Carl Hulse says of Republicans, “The NRA has a stranglehold in some respects on that party.”
On immigration, having killed the program protecting Dreamers last September, then promising to help them, then sabotaging a deal during last week’s debate, Trump owns that failure.
There’s a reason that non-partisan experts on Congress blamed the institution’s breakdown squarely on the GOP, even before Trump layered explicit racism onto the party’s lapdog subservience to wealthy donors.
Impeachment is drastic, admittedly, and the effort may fail. But a shot across the bow will alert Trump, or at least the more reality-attuned Republicans in Congress, that their malignant Amateur Hour is over.