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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/2/19

Defeat or Impeach? The (Il)Logic of Impeachment

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Now, there's Prime Directive B: We Must Impeach Trump, even if doing so helps to re-elect him!

It's that stark of a contradiction. Aware that "more voters believe [impeachment] will strengthen Trump's re-election chances than hurt them and " will [even] hurt Democrats' chances at retaining a majority in the House," Pelosi's response is: "It doesn't matter. Our first responsibility is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." It's a huge "political risk," but "That doesn't matter. That doesn't matter. Because we cannot have a president of the United States " undermining our national security, and undermining the integrity of our elections."

It "doesn't matter"--three times.

New Party discipline, not just from Pelosi, Schiff, and establishment but from progressive Dems, too: Must vote to impeach Trump, "political risk" be damned! It's our constitutional duty.

It's inspiring to hear that Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have risen above politics to constitutional duty, but there's still an absolute contradiction in these positions that has to be recognized. There cannot be two "most important" things. Either the most important thing is to defeat Trump or it's to impeach him.

If you try to wriggle out of that by saying: "The best way to defeat Trump is to impeach him," don't, because you have to recognize that Pelosi is emphatically not saying that. Pelosi recognizes that an impeachment process is virtually certain to fall short of removing Trump from office, and may very well help him retain the Presidency and the Republicans regain control of the Congress. She, Schiff, and the Democrats are saying "We are not impeaching Trump because we think it's the best way to defeat him. We know it's not, and indeed that it carries a great risk of strengthening his rule. We are doing it because it's our constitutional duty as patriotic Americans."

You can believe in the sincerity, rather than the moralizing hypocrisy, of that proclamation--and I'm sure there are some Democratic congresspersons who at least believe it when they say it. But you cannot ignore the evident contradiction between the conflicting Prime Directives, or the strange fact that Democrats are ignoring it, simply pretending it's not there. (It's what Althusserian theory would see as a classic ideological construct: a contradiction that's produced [even obvious] but not recognized.) Once you do recognize this contradiction, as a sentient creature in the American political universe you'd have to be extremely naïve not to suspect that something else besides "constitutional duty" explains what is going on here.

After all, wasn't the point of the Democrats' first Prime Directive precisely that re-electing Trump would itself fatally harm the Constitution and the Republic? Does not pursuing "politically risky" impeachment instead of concentrating on winning the election effect that very harm?

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Former college professor, native and denizen of New York City. Blogging at, from a left-socialist perspective. Also publishing on Counterpunch The Greanville Post, Medium, Dandelion Salad, and other sites around the net. (more...)

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