House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gavels as the House votes 232-196 to pass a resolution on impeachment procedure to move forward into the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The resolution would authorize the next stage of impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including establishing the format for open hearings, giving the House Committee on the Judiciary the final recommendation on impeachment, and allowing President Trump and his lawyers to attend events and question witnesses. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
For only the third time in American history, a U.S. President has been officially impeached (it would be the fourth time, but Richard Nixon had the decency to resign). President Donald Trump, not too far removed from the impeachment of Bill Clinton, joins the exclusive club after a pair of votes in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
However, there is something very interesting that is being played down by Democrats and the media: There were three Democrat votes against impeachment, and one vote “present” – Tusli Gabbard stated she could not vote for or against impeachment. That makes this even more extraordinary, as it makes the vote against Trump’s impeachment the only bipartisan aspect of the whole process.
Democrats and their allies in the media will play this down as three Democrats trying to save their own hides come their 2020 re-election bids. That, to them, makes this a non-issue, but… doesn’t the fact that impeachment is seen as unpopular in swing districts make it a particularly interesting issue?
The Democrats did not work very hard at all to get any Republican support. There are 21 Republicans leaving the House, almost all of whom are doing so because they don’t like Trump or Trump has made working there particularly difficult for them. Those are the very first votes Democrats should have gone for. They should have made overtures to these Republicans and said “Look, this guy is the reason you’re losing power. Why not take a swing on the way out?”
The fact that those retiring Republicans voted with their party is not some sort of sign that Republicans are circling the wagons around Trump. It’s a sign that the Democrats went too far too fast in trying to get impeachment out. They did not gather more than scant evidence – third- and fourth-person hearsay, essentially – and they made no real attempts to subpoena quality witnesses like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney. This has all the appearances of a Get Out The Vote effort by Democrats who are trying everything they can to win 2020.
There are a number of Republicans in the House and Senate who would be more than happy to stick it to Trump and get him out of there (I get the sense that Mitch McConnell is included in that), but the Democrats made absolutely no effort to win them over. This was all about their party and their goal since 2016 finally coming to fruition.
The fact that Democrats are worried about swing districts tells you they know impeachment is underwater in the polling. Support is evaporating, and they want to salvage the media coverage. The only thing they’re doing is proving what several have been saying all along – let the voters decide. If those three Democrats voted the way their districts want them to, isn’t that a sign that maybe impeachment isn’t the best way to do this?
We’ll probably find out for sure during the 2020 House elections, but I can’t imagine it ends all that well for those who voted for it who have to explain to a majority of their district why they disobeyed their wishes.
Not that those Democrats will learn that lesson, of course.