Podcast editor Samuel Pennifold argues that pursuing impeachment of Donald Trump would harm both the Biden administration and USA.
After Congress overwhelmingly voted to impeach Donald Trump for a precedent-setting second time, with ten Republican congressmen and women crossing the aisle to join the Democrats, and after new senate leader Chuck Schumer confirmed a Senate impeachment trial would go ahead, the stage has been set for Senate trials.
Further impeachment proceedings at this stage obviously wouldn’t remove Trump from office as his tumultuous term as president draws to a close, but they would block him from running for public office again, as well as taking away the “presidential goodie bag” of a stipend for the First Lady and a large 1-million-dollar annual travel allowance – to name a few of the perks.
It is without question that Trump deserves to be impeached for his role in the Capitol riots and the affront to democracy they represented. On a practical level though, the process will serve as little more than a distraction.
For Joe Biden’s sake, Senate Democrats should choose to not take impeachment proceedings further for two reasons. Firstly, after four years of Trump, we should recognise him for the loser he is and consign him to history. Secondly, impeachment proceedings will only bog down the entire Democratic policy agenda across Congress, the Senate and the White House, clouding any bold and ambitious first 100 days Joe Biden has planned in office.
Trump may be gone but Trumpism is far from over. Whilst pulling in a smaller percentage of the overall popular vote in this election as compared to 2016, Trump still gained over 10 million more raw votes between 2016 and 2020. To impeach Trump now will only turn the man who was already a movement figurehead into the only thing that could be more powerful – a martyr.
Impeachment at this late stage would further confirm the fantasy world of deep state and conspiracy in which his core base lives, further agitating a group already agitated enough to launch a violent attack on one of the global seats of democracy. The idea of beginning a healing process is a political cliché after every election; this time, Democrats should follow it.
Joe Biden probably inherits the most desperate and divided America any post-Civil War president ever has. In the midst of a raging pandemic, one of the largest ever economic slumps nationally and globally, and a slipping international reputation, the Biden administration’s first 100 days will prove to be the most important of their first four years.
As Biden looks to reverse Trump-era policies, especially around Covid-19 regulations and foreign policy, he will need the focus of America to be on this – not a live drama played out in the Senate. Biden has already made bold promises to re-join the Paris Climate accords through executive order and to mandate the wearing of masks nation-wide. But he will need to do so much more.
A long and drawn-out impeachment process will by no means serve to further his agenda. What could be a bold and decisive presidential term, setting a new tone for America moving forward, could all too easily slip into a political mudslinging contest.
Trump deserves impeachment for his crimes against democracy. But, at this final hour, to forget him as the loser he is will hurt him so much more.