One of the more entertaining elements in watching the venerable political shows – such as Meet The Press – is viewing firsthand the Twister game that “responsible Republicans” must play to argue on Trump’s behalf, while also appearing to responsibly acknowledge what we all call “reality.” Come on down, Rich Lowry, it is your turn to play: “Appear to be very concerned about what Trump has actually done, yet dismiss it anyway!”
To be absolutely fair, it is an extremely difficult game, so difficult that we wouldn’t even expect anyone to be “good” at it.
Fairness also forces us to note that none of the Republicans appearing on these shows is under any obligation to play the game. Charlie Sykes comes immediately to mind. One can be a Republican, yet reject Trump. Rich Lowry, however, accepted this morning’s challenge.
Lowry did not even deny that the evidence sure seems to indicate that Trump utilized American foreign policy – the control of which is a privilege of the presidency – to attempt to extort a foreign power into police action (an investigation) into Trump’s biggest political rival. Nope. Lowry is, again, aiming for “responsible Republican” status. Lowry admits Trump attempted to extort Ukraine, and that’s bad.
Lowry argued that despite Trump’s extortion, which is as close to a “classic” impeachable offense as one can get short of simply murdering one’s political opponent, Trump should not be impeached because it will … be so polarizing.
.@RichLowry said impeaching and removing the president could make the country less stable because of political division. "It would blow a hole of legitimacy in our national politics that would take years to heal," Lowry said. #IfitsSunday #MTP
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 3, 2019
Lowry is not wrong in that it certainly will be polarizing, Trump followers will deny its legitimacy, and thus the government’s legitimacy, which is all highly regrettable. He is wrong in stating it will take years to “heal,” it will actually probably take a generation, at least. That sucks. It is something that will be made much “worse” by impeachment, true.
Lowry’s argument, however, is not even slightly persuasive, for two reasons.
First, if one were concerned about needlessly polarizing the nation, that person would have been advocating for Trump’s ouster from office from the moment that Trump was elected. No one, and I mean no one, has ever done more to “needlessly” polarize this nation than Trump. Lincoln polarized the nation, but that arose out of his drive to stamp out slavery. Trump’s polarization arises out of the need to stamp out those who dare oppose him.
I am positive that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner bothered President Obama. Boehner even sued Obama. Yet, Obama and Boehner golfed together. Obama never called Mitch McConnell a “third rate politician” to his face while “melting down.” All that was pre-Trump politics. Trump polarizes the country by calling the media the “enemy of the people,” and encouraging violence among his supporters. Yet Rich Lowry wants Democrats to be respectful and “responsible” (as always) and not cause “even greater division” or polarization. Forget it. “Concern about polarization”? That horse left the barn, and died of old age, years ago.
But the even larger point is that the danger at stake goes far deeper than present-day polarization. The country’s future as a democracy is at risk, indeed one wonders if it’s not already dead, or at least in a coma. Trump is being impeached, in the year prior to an election, because his actions threaten the very integrity of this nation’s elections. Trump is using another country to hurt the democracy in “his.” Moreover, if Trump will extort another country to hurt his political rival, an opponent in an election, what makes us think he won’t use our government to hurt his opponent in an election? What makes us think he won’t tell Bill Barr to investigate Biden, or whomever ends up as the Democratic opponent? Why would Trump not extort a regular U.S. citizen to make an outrageous claim against a political rival?
Moreover, even if Trump stopped at this point, if Trump’s extortion attempt is not called out as a crime, through impeachment, what is to stop a future president, of either party, from doing it again, and again, and again? Truly, if we let concern about “polarization” influence our fundamental commitment to democracy and law, then we have already lost our democracy. Some Republicans, including Rich Lowry, already know that their actions constitute a revolt against the rule of law, and have made peace with it. They just won’t say it out loud.
Yet Lowry did, even if he doesn’t know he said it out loud.
Lincoln brought about the ultimate “polarization” because slavery was just that abhorrent. We should be just as committed to preserving our democracy. Slavery offends one’s humanity more than a right to democracy. However, without democracy, things like slavery, war, abuse of human rights, and abuse of the planet, become that much easier. One could argue that protection of democracy is more fundamental than even fighting slavery and oppression, or that there is no real distinction to begin with.
I do not like getting my knee injected. It hurts. However, the five minutes of pain that I feel while getting my knee injected is offset by six to nine months of pain relief. The pain that impeachment will cause will last more than five minutes, more than five years, closer to fifty than five. Yet without fighting for democracy, without getting the pain of the impeachment injection, we may as well amputate the constitution, the rule of law. “Laws” will have become utterly meaningless, and that pain will endure until cured.
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