Threats to take one’s ball and go home are hardly a new reaction among the Democratic firmament, particularly when it comes to impeachment.
However, at the point which you say impeachment ought to be extirpated from the Constitution if it can’t be used to destroy the current president, perhaps checking yourself before you get involved in wrecking yourself might not be the worst idea.
Yet, this was indeed the message from Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat who’s also the House majority whip. That means his job is to keep Democrats in line when it comes to any sort of impeachment vote.
Except, at least according to his remarks in an appearance Friday on CNN’s “New Day,” he’s not going to do that.
Instead, he’s apparently going to let Democrats vote their conscience on this one. And if the vote doesn’t go the way his conscience dictates, he thinks it’s high time that the provision for impeachment be removed from the Constitution.
No pressure there.
“This is a vote of conscience,” Clyburn said on CNN.
“I do believe that when it comes to something as divisive as impeachment, we have to leave members up to their own consciences, their own constituents and what they think is in the best interest of their love for country,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn’s appearance came after after Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, another Democrat, said that he didn’t think voting to impeach President Donald Trump was a fait accompli.
“He is probably talking to his constituents. He knows where they would like to see him stand on this question, and I suspect that’s the way he would vote. I’m not going to urge him to vote the way I’m going to vote,” Clyburn said.
However, the whip wasn’t going to whip the vote — in other words try to get everyone in line, because why do your job?
“I think it would be a bit unseemly for us to go out whipping up a vote on something like this. This is too serious, this is too much about preserving this great republic,” he said.
“This is a vote of conscience,” says Rep. James Clyburn about why he’s not whipping votes for impeachment. “We have to leave members up to their own consciences, their own constituents and what they think is in the best interest of their love for country”https://t.co/UW4S2RusDc pic.twitter.com/ojUDgyHYvd
— New Day (@NewDay) December 6, 2019
“If we cannot vote to impeach with what we had in testimonies last week and what we’ve seen in news reports this week, then we ought to just modify the Constitution and get rid of impeachment altogether,” Clyburn added.
In Federalist No. 65 — the chapter of that august work most closely associated with impeachment — Alexander Hamilton noted, “If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert. Where is the standard of perfection to be found?”
Hamilton, one assumes, was talking about a standard of actual, not just personal, perfection — something like the Platonic ideal of an impeachment law. That said, the founders came pretty close.
However, that’s not exactly what Clyburn had in mind here. For him, the standard of perfection is to be found in the ideal outcome for his party.
As Newt Gingrich pointed out, when former President Bill Clinton’s case made it to the Senate, there were 11 counts including perjury that he was almost certainly guilty of, all investigated by an independent counsel.
The Democrats didn’t want to wait for that in Trump’s case. So, they fast-tracked it and now assure us that there’s so little doubt Trump will be impeached that we might just ditch impeachment altogether if he isn’t.
I’m sure Clyburn actually believes all this, which is even more scary. His best argument, as with the rest of the Democrats, seems to be that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
And that’s what this is basically about. They haven’t taken Trump down yet, so this will do as well as anything else. We don’t even have to wait for a full investigation — just get it out of the House and see what happens there. Roll the dice and take your chances.
Or, perhaps Clyburn would rather impeachment fail so the party can blame it on stubborn Democrats who didn’t know what was good for them.
Either way, this is moving headlong toward disaster. It doesn’t have to be this way for the Democrats.
I certainly wouldn’t complain. However, that’s not an excuse to excise impeachment from the Constitution. If anything, it should reinforce the very reason behind it.
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