It was a historic, permanent and ultimately expected vote, given the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. On Wednesday morning (Dec. 18), Republican politicians built on the angry letter written the previous day by Donald Trump to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by multiplying their cries of foul play and engaging in dilatory tactics. That did not prevent the outcome: Around 8:30 p.m., this mad king became the third American president in 240 years of independence to be shown the door via impeachment.
It was an extreme procedure in an extreme presidency. In 1998, Republicans accused Bill Clinton of perjury during a sex scandal — “Monica-gate” — with more peripheral political repercussions. Democrats did the right thing by opening an investigation into Trump’s withholding of military aid from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with the goal of tarnishing the reputation of Joe Biden, his potential — if not likely — Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race. Here is a U.S. president who, since his 2016 election, has governed according to his personal interests instead of the rule of law. The Robert Mueller investigation on Russian interference revealed multiple areas of suspicion concerning obstruction of justice. The Ukrainian affair was the last straw. Following the democratic principle of “checks and balances,” the Democratic majority fulfilled its responsibility — at the risk of losing many of their elected representatives — by voting for the articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power (by a vote of 230-197 in favor) and obstruction of Congress (by a vote of 229-198 in favor).
That's it for principles, which are fundamental. But the fact remains that this development stems in large part from an ultra-partisan political spectacle, which we are already practically assured that, once moved to the Republican-led Senate in January, will give rise to a trial in which Trump will be acquitted.
This approach, as relevant as it may be, does not settle for the Democrats the question of how to oust Trump from power next November. Pelosi knows this all too well. The fact is that Americans, when asked for their support, are divided down the middle in their opinions on the impeachment proceedings, and the Democrats are fueling the president’s fire when it comes to his attacks on the “deep state” and a hated establishment.
In the evening, while they voted in the Capitol, the president met with his hypnotized voters at a large partisan rally in Battle Creek, in the swing state of Michigan. He was certainly not going to be deprived of railing against the “radical left” who want to destroy him, or the opportunity to repeat that he was the victim of a “witch hunt.” Or the chance to expound long and hard over the allegedly corrupt actions of the Bidens in Ukraine, at the time when Hunter, son of the former vice president under Obama, joined — for $50,000 per month —the board of a Ukrainian gas company subject to multiple corruption investigations.
So, this: Fishy or not, and as abominable as Trump himself is, the impasse that the Democrats created over the Bidens undoubtedly does them a disservice in the court of public opinion. To quote the recent words of the American columnist Bhaskar Sunkara in The Guardian: “Hunter Biden using his father’s connections to maneuver his way to riches is exactly what’s wrong with the system,” which today is repugnant to so many Americans. Quite right.
Trump, his ubiquitous presidency, and all of those Republicans who blindly support him, are the expression of an unhealthy American democracy. The Democratic Party is critically responsible for this deterioration; the trial that they have subjected the president to is also obliquely their own. How do they repair this democracy? It’s a big task. Beyond partisan trench warfare, the Democrats seriously need to change if they want to regain the confidence of the white voters without college degrees (42% of the electorate) who largely voted for Trump in 2016. They could start by seriously attacking social inequality and the growing poverty rate with respect to both healthcare and in employment. By deconstructing racist and xenophobic speech. In short, by rooting out the old evils that created Trumpism.