The three-year, nonstop effort to get rid of Donald Trump could damage our republic in ways that go far beyond the Trump presidency. Americans on the left and right should be concerned.
What makes us one people? One nation?
Is it not the agreement that we are bound together by a common set of laws, if not principles and values?
And central to that agreement is that we the people will pick our leaders through the election process; and will live under that leadership until the next election.
We don’t have to like the man. We don’t have to agree with his policies. We are even free to denounce him publicly. And we are free to vote him out of office.
But when we refuse to recognize him as our duly elected, legal president, then we undermine the election process and the rule of law, the very foundations upon which our civil government and our society rest.
And that is exactly what has happened since the election of Donald Trump.
“Mr. Trump isn’t my president. I don’t mean it emotionally; I mean it literally. It’s not sloganeering; it’s observable truth,” wrote columnist Lindy West in the New York Times right after Trump’s inauguration.
Her sentiment was not an isolated rant from a lunatic fringe. It was widely reflected among Democrats and in the national media. Dozens of Democratic members of Congress boycotted the inauguration. Congressman Ted Lieu said, “We may have an illegitimate president of the United States currently occupying the White House.”
A top FBI agent talked about an “insurance policy” in the unlikely case Trump won. Trump haters, calling themselves “the resistance,” vowed to get rid of him. One tweeted the coup has begun. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called him an imposter.
Translation: We reject the results of the 2016 election and we will work to get him out of office before his term is over.
From the outset of the Trump presidency, Democratic leaders, aided by the media, have worked to undo the votes of 63 million Americans. They have taken us through a dizzying series of ever-changing accusations: that he colluded with Russia to take the election; that he is a Russian agent; that he violated the emoluments clause; that he resorted to a quid pro quo; that he bribed and extorted the president of Ukraine.
They didn’t slow down when Robert Mueller’s two-year, multimillion-dollar investigation failed to substantiate their accusations.
Pelosi was asked last month why she is rushing through the impeachment process. In a rare moment of candor, she said it was not rushed; it has been underway for 2½ years.
Now, by a strictly partisan vote and with no evidence of an actual crime, Democrats in the House have approved articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and contempt of Congress. The charges originate from one phone conversation with the president of Ukraine, a conversation that has been made public and clearly lacks evidence of wrongdoing serious enough to justify undoing an election.
Asked why remove Trump just 11 months before the 2020 election, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said, “we cannot wait for the election to address the present crisis. The integrity of that election is the very thing at stake.”
But Nadler is being disingenuous. He knows the Mueller probe found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russians on the 2016 election. And he knows the Senate will not convict Trump and remove him from office.
Nadler, in fact, is doing the very thing he is accusing Trump of doing, undermining America’s confidence in the election process by casting doubt on its validity.
This issue is bigger than party politics. It cuts both left and right. Whether it is “birthers,” including Trump, falsely claiming Barack Obama was an illegitimate president, or leftists saying the same thing about Trump, they are damaging the integrity of the election process and the rule of law.
Presidents come and go. In one year, or five, Trump will be gone. The long-term integrity of our system of government should not be undermined by frivolous, partisan use of the impeachment process.
Bill Sherman is retired from the Tulsa World and a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion pieces from board members appear in this space most weeks.