Normalize Impeachment (And Punishing Politicians In General)

With the possibility of Trump being impeached, censured, convicted, and fired out of a cannon in the final week of his administration, I think it’s worth talking about what kind of precedent doing this would create. And it seems like I’m not the only one interested in this point, Karl Rove went on Fox News on 1/11/2021 specifically to talk about this. “You are creating a weapon here,” Rove warns “that could be used against a future President.”

I recall hearing this during the first Trump impeachment from time to time, like when @lordvictor tweeted on 12/13/2019:

Prediction: From now on every time a President and the House are of different parties, there will be an Impeachment.

Now, I’m sure people said the same things during the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the beginning of the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon. But we didn’t, we didn’t impeach Ford as he pardoned his former boss, nor did we impeach Reagan as he violated embargos on Iran to fund a terrorist group Congress had banned him from financing, nor did we impeach Bush One as he prepared a false testimony to Congress in order to get us to invade Iraq, nor did we impeach Bush Two as he lied us into two more wars, nor did we impeach Obama as he spied on us and lied about or used the IRS to punish his his political enemies among many other things. Even when we impeached Clinton, it was not because he bombed countries that didn’t attack us, but because he lied about getting a consensual blowjob from an intern — might I remind you, this is the same man who many women have accused of rape.

Now I’m not saying all these events were impeachable and removeable criminal offenses; many of those Clinton rape claims were not investigated (and I personally do not believe many of them), we don’ know exactly how much Bush One knew about the Nayirah testimony nor are we sure how involved Reagan was with Iran-Contra (because he shredded all the evidence), and you can debate if Bush Two and Dick Cheney lied about WMDs in Iraq or if he “made a mistake.” (You know, one of those mistakes that destabilized a region, cost us seven billion dollars, and killed 4,424 Americans.) But such claims should be seriously investigated by Congress and not just pushed under the rug. Noam Chomsky famously said in 1990 “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged,” and the only way such a thing could stop is if we hold the bastards who violate the law accountable.

Nothing seizes to amaze me more than the people who point out, rightfully, that corrupt politicians are never punished — and therefore use that as an argument to not punish corrupt politicians. I commonly point to Liz Wheeler’s 2/14/2020 tweet on Roger Stone as the perfect example:

So when Roger Stone lies to the feds, they recommend 9 years in prison. When Flynn lies to the feds, they try to send him to prison. But when Andy McCabe lies to the feds, they let him go free. Does that sound like justice?!

I agree with Wheeler here, believe it or not, Stone, Flynn, and, McCabe should all be in prison if evidence can be provided that they lied to the federal government. (Or in Flynn’s case, if he pleads guilty to lying to the federal government.) But Wheeler is not using this as an argument for more convictions, but as an argument for no rules whatsoever. (Isn’t that this “anarchism” thing I keep hearing about?)

Michael Knowles played the same game when Stone, along with Paul Manafort, were pardoned in late 2020. Here’s what he tweeted on 12/23/2020:

Put Tony Podesta in the can, then we can talk about whether Manafort or Stone should serve time.

For the record, the Department of Justice did a probe in Podesta from 10/23/2017 until 9/24/2019 and found nothing they could get him on. Meanwhile, even Knowles and his buddies admit that Stone, Manafort, and Flynn were being punished for illegal things they’ve done.

Whenever anyone brings up the idea of making impeachment easier, or even allowing citizens to get involved with the process, the argument is the same. “Well,” they warn “if we do that than every President could be impeached.”

To which my response is always a long, very sarcastic, “and?” Because it is not my job to worry about the repercussions on a system if we start cracking down on criminals — especially a system that insists on running my life. Why is it my job to worry about how hard it will be for the most powerful man in the country to break the law? Shouldn’t that be an issue for them to figure out before they break the law while being the most powerful one of the most powerful men in the world, and not me when I dare suggest holding them accountable?

We hear all this fear-mongering about “anarchy” (Attorney General Barr famously tried to take funding away from “anarchist jurisdictions”) but in truth, the ruling class already lives under anarchy. Anarchy is defined as a system without rulers, and not only does our ruling class not have rulers, but we actively warn that creating rulers for them will lead to those rulers punishing them forever.

What people don’t seem to realize is that impeachment serves an important symbolic purpose. It tells us that even the most powerful man in the nation — the man literally called the “commander-in-chief” — has people who can punish him if he breaks the rules. For the past couple decades, we have ignored that this power exists because we’re worried our crooks could go as well. I say it’s time we stop, and the more crooks that go down the better.

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