Yesterday, we had nationwide live TV coverage of the Mueller hearings — the morning with the House Justice Committee, and the afternoon with the House Intelligence Committee. So today I want to talk about Impeachment, which is the third Distraction on my revised list of 7 Distractions and 7 Important issues.
By the way, after six months, I’m not sure I still like the categories of Important and Distractions. With our current POTUS, Mr. Trump, who is a master, maybe even a genius, in governing by Distraction, it is very hard not to use that label. However, as I follow our large group of Democratic challengers, and consider the issues they are focusing on, I think Distraction is a valid category into the near future, at least. Sure, it is a subjective judgment, and depending on the urgency of some crisis here or there, government and public attention must constantly shift to “minor” issues for a time. Think of the analogy of driving a car: if the car is running reasonably well, your main attention must be on safety. But there comes a time when you are running out of gas, and getting to a gas station becomes a high priority. And then less frequently, you need to have a tire repaired or replaced. Etc.
So today, let’s talk about Impeachment, and consider if this still a Distraction, as Nancy Pelosi and moderate Democrats might argue, or is it Important — so important and so urgent that risking losing marginal Democratic seats in 2020, such as the Kansas-3rd District, where I live, or even, worst case, losing to Trump for a second term — the principle of Checks and Balances in our Constitution requires the Legislature — our House of Representatives — when dominated by the opposition, to hold the Executive to account for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That is the position of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and about 40% of the House Democrats.
I can see merit in both arguments, but for now I still consider Impeachment a Distraction, even though I am very impressed with the case put forward by Congressman Adam Schiff in yesterday’s Intelligence Committee hearings, emphasizing dishonesty, disloyalty to country, and greed. Our previous fixation on “collusion” and then “obstruction” are not the only issues. As Schiff says, just because you can’t indict a sitting POTUS, and just because you can’t prove a criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt — that is not really a high enough standard for our elected leaders.
Another angle that I haven’t heard anyone discuss, is maybe the American experiment with Democracy has run its course. Maybe authoritarianism is better suited to the future, especially in addressing the challenging Important issue of Climate Change. The Chinese model may have a lot of advantages. Think about the power of their previous one-child-policy. And currently in their ambitious plans converting from coal power to solar and wind — they may become the world leader. More on Climate Change in another episode — I will just say in passing, I have changed my FB profile photo to Greta Thunberg, who, just this week, Angela Merkel says “drove” Germany to pledge to get the country to its 2030 climate target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990. That’s the kind of action that is very hard to do in a democracy. What I am saying is, if Trumpism moves us toward authoritarianism, and democracy becomes unworkable — who knows, this could be a good thing in disguise. Benevolent/enlightened dictatorship may be the only way to cope with future challenges and for civilization to survive.
One more observation about impeachment: for the past week or so, there have been massive demonstrations in Puerto Rico, demanding the impeachment or resignation of their governor. Last night, around midnight, 24th of July, 2019, the governor resigned. So if public opinion becomes overwhelming in the USA, that could happen here. Obviously, public opinion is not to that point with Trump.