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Heres Why Impeachment is a Mistake

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

On this timetable, GOPers will find a hundred excuses to vote not to impeach Trump. But theres an alternative that would put Republicans on the hot seat.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty

The right answer is censure. It now stands little chance of happening, given Speaker Nancy Pelosis opposition. And its true that censure doesnt have the public weight or consequences of impeachment. But Pelosi is wrong that it is an abdication. On the contrary, censure is the legally, constitutionally, and democratically appropriate response to these outrages, given that a new president will be sworn in within eight days in any case.

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But Cicilline knows full well that this will not happen. The Senate cannot conduct a trial in time for Trumps removal, even if outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to do so. As such, the impeachment proceedings will simply be a kind of show trial, a mockery of congressional procedure and good governance.

Theres no time for committee deliberationits not constitutionally required, as Rep. Jerrold Nadler has observed, but it is a longstanding custom dating back decades. Theres little time for deliberation of any kind, in fact. At precisely the moment when we need Congress to reassert its legitimacy as a deliberative body, a rushed article of impeachment undermines it. The House is acting in the heat of the moment, full of justified outrage, but without the kind of careful deliberation and judgment that America desperately needs.

None of that could happen now. If somehow the Senate took up the article of incorporation this week, it could only make a mockery of the entire process. It would be a legal process thats been MacGyvered and scotch-taped together in order to express rage. Though its a far cry from storming the Capitol, it is a further disrespect of our democratic institutions.

Censure is a far better way to do so.

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A censure vote would hold Trump accountable, first and foremost. He would be only the second American president to be censured by Congressappropriately, the first was his professed hero, the genocidal populist Andrew Jackson. The condemnation can be swift and severe, without making a mockery of legal and congressional procedure. It is the legislatively appropriate way to express such condemnation. And because a censure vote has a higher likelihood of bipartisan support, the condemnation could be more broad and more resounding than a largely partisan impeachment.

But a censure vote would also hold accountable those who vote against it. The unprecedented events of last week have caused an earthquake in American politics that we do not yet understand. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. A censure debate, unlike an impeachment resolution, would force politicians to either overcome their fear of Trumps rabid base, or pander to it and be held publicly accountable.

There are, after all, numerous ways one might defend a vote against impeachment. But censure? Surely, inciting a riot that could easily have led to the mass murder of members of Congress is deserving of that. A censure vote, unlike an impeachment vote, forces the rats to come out of their holes and show themselves in the light of day.

Thats especially true because an expressive censure resolution, unlike an legalistic article of impeachment, can be broader and encompass more of Trumps outrageous misdeeds. If properly constructed, censure could attract broad, bipartisan support, and force those who oppose it to go on record saying theres nothing deserving of censure here.

Again, none of this is to deny that Trumps seditious actions merit impeachment, conviction, and removal from office. But since that cannot happen in an orderly, lawful way because of timing, the question is whether the benefits of a rushed, symbolic, practically meaningless impeachment outweigh the costs. I believe they do not.

Read more on: thedailybeast, impeachment


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