Get rid of Trump, and things still won’t be com­ing up roses in that swamp

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY LEONARD PITTS JR. [email protected]­ami­her­ald.com

Should Don­ald Trump be im­peached? That he will be seems likely as Democrats take con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the cham­ber where im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings be­gin. That he de­serves to be is sim­i­larly self-ev­i­dent.

Pres­i­dent An­drew John­son was im­peached af­ter fir­ing a mem­ber of his Cab­i­net with­out con­gres­sional ap­proval. Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton was im­peached for ly­ing about a sex­ual af­fair with an in­tern.

If those men mer­ited im­peach­ment, how much more de­serv­ing is Trump, who stands cred­i­bly ac­cused of felonies for di­rect­ing hush money pay­offs to a porn star and a Play­boy cen­ter­fold? To say noth­ing of charges that his cam­paign co­or­di­nated with Rus­sia to get him elected. Or the fact that he seems to have ob­structed jus­tice in plain sight. Not to men­tion that he gave away state se­crets in the Oval Of­fice. Surely Trump hur­dles the bar — “high crimes and mis­de­meanors” — set by the Con­sti­tu­tion with room to spare.

So, yes, he may well be im­peached and surely de­serves to be. But should he be? That’s a trick­ier ques­tion.

As you may re­call from civics class, re­moval by im­peach­ment is a two-step process: The House pro­duces ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment, the Se­nate con­ducts a trial to de­ter­mine if a pres­i­dent should be kicked out of of­fice. Given that the Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated Se­nate has hereto­fore shown all the moral fiber of al­gae, there is lit­tle prospect it will dis­miss Trump.

Even as­sum­ing for the sake of ar­gu­ment that it did, there’s no rea­son to believe his re­moval would be a panacea for the dis­union, dishar­mony and dys­pep­sia that af­flict this coun­try. In­deed, it could eas­ily make mat­ters worse.

Re­mem­ber: 63 mil­lion peo­ple voted for this guy, even know­ing what he is. Re­mem­ber, too, that his lat­est Gallup ap­proval rat­ing stands at 39 per­cent. Though no elected pres­i­dent since Eisen­hower has polled that low at a sim­i­lar point in his term, that fig­ure still seems stun­ningly high.

As fla­grantly aw­ful a pres­i­dent as Trump has been, four in 10 Amer­i­cans think he’s do­ing a bang-up job. To over­turn the will of that many peo­ple, es­pe­cially in to­day’s charged en­vi­ron­ment, is to frac­ture an al­ready frac­tured union.

None of which is to say it shouldn’t be done, but only to point out the con­se­quences thereof. But again, the ar­gu­ment is aca­demic. As noted, Trump will prob­a­bly be im­peached (though not re­moved). And the six in 10 of us who see his aw­ful­ness for what it is surely will ex­ult. Which is fine so long as we re­al­ize that im­peach­ment will very likely change very lit­tle of what ac­tu­ally ails Amer­ica.

Per­haps that’s as it should be.

One gets the sense some­times that peo­ple think of im­peach­ment as a magic trick. Abra­cadabra and presto! Trump dis­ap­pears in a cloud of Cheeto dust, Amer­ica is saved.

It’s a great fan­tasy, but only that. Be­cause Trump is not the prob­lem, only a symp­tom. And Amer­ica doesn’t need to be saved. No, for its own men­tal and moral health, Amer­ica needs to save it­self, needs to clearly and em­phat­i­cally re­ject what it has be­come. Im­peach­ment does not do that.

Vot­ing the aw­ful­ness out, does. Con­sider this new Congress, with its record num­ber of women, in­clud­ing its first Na­tive- Amer­i­can women, its first Mus­lim women and its youngest woman ever, this Congress that looks so much more like the coun­try it serves. Con­sider the or­ga­niz­ing, the can­vass­ing, the fund rais­ing, the putting lives on hold, the stop­com­plain­ing-about-it-and­get­ting-in­volved it took to pro­duce this re­sult. Then roll up your sleeves and for­get about magic.

That’s not what got us into this mess. It’s not what will get us out.

BREN­DAN SMIALOWSKI Getty Im­ages

Pres­i­dent Trump faces an ag­gres­sive U.S. House, led by Democrats.

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