You know you're in for a reasoned, non-alarmist meditation when you get to the illustrations.
Sometimes I imagine this era going catastrophically wrong — a nuclear exchange with North Korea, perhaps, or a genuine crisis in American democracy — and historians writing about it in the future. They will go back and read Trump’s tweets and his words and read what we were saying, and they will wonder what the hell was wrong with us. You knew, they’ll say. You knew everything you needed to know to stop this. And what will we say in response?
The same thing we said about the Reign of Terror, the same thing we said about the rise of Nazi Germany, the same thing we said about the collapse of Vietnam. Futurecrime doesn't exist and never will. The fact that the author doesn't think we're experiencing a " genuine crisis in American democracy" when the Russians have as much as bragged about interceding in the election to destabilize American politics speaks volumes.
In the course of reporting this piece, I spoke to a slew of legal scholars and impeachment specialists. Here is my conclusion: There is no actual definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” There is wide agreement that it describes more than violations of the criminal code, but very little agreement beyond that. When is the “misconduct of public men” impeachable? When does a tweetstorm rise to the level of “egregious violation of the public trust”?
Thereby demonstrating that expert opinion holds the action to be subject to the discretion of the authority in question. QED, tweetstorms do not rise to the level of "egregious violation of the public trust" until they do.
To many of Trump’s supporters — and perhaps many of his opponents — this would look like nothing less than a coup; the swamp swallowing the man who sought to drain it. Imagine the Breitbart headlines, the Fox News chyrons. And would they truly be wrong? Whatever Trump is today, he was that man when he was elected too. The same speech patterns were in evidence; the same distractibility was present. The tweets, the conspiracy theories, the chaos: It was all there. The American people, mediated by the Electoral College, delivered their verdict; mustn’t it now be respected?
NBC didn't fire Matt Lauer; we did
But there’s another, more positive, takeaway from Mr. Lauer’s firing, which is that corporations are susceptible to the moral suasion of the public. This might not look like what millennials imagine when they talk about “corporate social responsibility” and “ethical capitalism,” but it’s hard not to see it that way.
Fundamentally: The Republican Party is in office because of their opposition to liberal reforms. Trump is in office because of his opposition to the status quo. That he does not represent a majority of Americans is inconsequential; he represents a majority of electoral districts. This is where the Republican Party has gone - from Goldwater to Nixon to Reagan to Bush to Other Bush to Tea Party to Michelle Bachmann to the spiteful place where it's more important that coastal liberals lose than the holler gets its post office back because nobody really believes the world is coming back but they know that those uppity pinkos in San Francisco must suffer.
So the Republican Party does what they can while also doing whatever it takes to keep themselves in office. And so long as Alabama would rather have a sexual predator than a Democrat representing them in the Senate, the sexual predators will have the run of the place.
In its roughly 240 years of existence, America has had 45 presidents and three serious impeachment proceedings. None of them has led to the removal of a president, though Richard Nixon’s would have if he hadn’t resigned. “It’s very hard to say of 45 presidents in 240 years [that] never, or once if you count Nixon, is the right number of impeachments historically,” Healy continues. “It’s a much easier case to make that we’ve impeached far too infrequently.”
No it's not. It's not at all easier. Impeachment means invalidating the most entrenched and involved democratic process we have. It means placing the will of Parliament above the will of the people. It fundamentally erodes confidence in government because it means the branches that all Americans didn't elect have power over the branch that they did.