It’s been a while since I wrote about politics here, both because my fiction writing rightly took precedent and because a lot of my political writing has migrated to Twitter. But I wanted to take a moment to shoot down some liberal happy-talk regarding impeachment.
In short, it won’t work.
To be clear, I’m not saying impeachment and removal from office are impossible, just that they are HIGHLY unlikely, because they rely on convincing an implausible number of GOP senators to vote for removal.
Let’s do some math.
Impeachment only requires a majority of House members, so let’s say the Dems take the House and can impeach the president. This triggers a “trial” in the Senate, which we hope will end in removal from office with a 2/3 vote. In case you’re wondering, that’s 67/100 senators.
How many Democrats are in the Senate right now? 49, if you count Sanders and King. We’ve got a long way to go.
But let’s say that the Democratic wave is a freaking tsunami and that EVERY SINGLE SENATE SEAT up for a vote in 2018 goes Dem. WY, UT, NE, TX, TN, NV, AZ all flip, as do both seats in Mississippi. Those are the only Republican seats up for grabs, and they’re only enough to bring the Democrats up to 58. But let’s say that McCain’s seat is up for a special, and also flips.
Do I have to explain how unlikely this all is? Good. So how many seats do the Dems net out of that massacre? Nine. The senate ends up 59 D/I, 41 R.
OH WAIT, THAT’S NOT ENOUGH DEMS TO REMOVE TRUMP FROM OFFICE.
Now, some adorable optimists out there are shouting that after a wave that huge (both Senate seats in MISSISSIPPI, for crying out loud!), the Republicans are bound to surrender and throw Trump under the bus. The moderates will be running for the hills!!! To which I say, what moderates? McCain? Heller? Corker? Flake? They’re all gone already. There will literally be *two* Republican senators left who even have a passing claim to moderation, Collins and Murkowski, and even if they jump on the bandwagon, that STILL leaves the Dems 6 votes short.
Now, I’ll grant that Marco Rubio is a spineless dope, and that a tsunami as big as the one I described — where over 100 House seats and 9 Republican Senate seats switch sides — would scare him shitless. So let’s count him in. Six to go. Oh what the hell, I’ll give you Cassidy too. Four.
At this point, there’s basically nobody left. You can make Lindsay Graham a swing vote if you squint hard enough, but that’s basically squinting until your eyes are shut. But hey, you want to count him and Rand Paul? Whatever. Next you’ll be telling me that McConnell’s a moderate in disguise.
And you still need two more.
There’s basically no one left. If you think McConnell can’t hold the rest of them together and vote against the Will of the People (TM), you haven’t been watching American politics in a few decades.. Whether they fall short by two, or six, or ten, the Democrats fall short. Trump may get impeached, but he will not be removed from office.
To be clear, I’m not bringing this up to rain on anyone’s parade. I don’t even think impeachment in the House is a bad idea, necessarily, since it would at least force the Senate (and let’s call it a Democratic Senate for the sake of argument) to take up the trial investigation and lay everything bare. That’s good for democracy. At least, I hope so. On the other hand, there is political danger in trying something and failing, especially if you fail dramatically.
But the real reason I wish the impeachment happy-talk would go away isn’t that I think impeachment is bad per se, it’s that expecting this story to end in removal from office is setting yourself up to be crushed and demoralized right ahead of the 2020 election. Why the hell would you do that?
Democratic goals this year and next should be simple: take the House and Senate, and as many governorships and state legislatures as possible. Stop the GOP’s agenda in its tracks, stop Trump’s agenda in its tracks, end voter suppression and gerrymandering shenanigans to the best of your ability, and BUILD UP TO 2020. Don’t set yourself up for heartbreak.