I freely admit that I have not been following the Mueller investigation, the indictments, the newest information, the rumors, or the conjecture surrounding it very closely at all. But in recent days my Twitter feed has been full of speculation that Trump’s presidency may be in serious jeopardy – that Mueller will end up releasing enough evidence against him personally that the new Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will be persuaded to impeach him. And even though the Senate remains under Republican control, there is increased chatter that backroom deals might result in his ouster.
I pray it doesn’t unfold like that.
Perhaps that’s not right of me. But if I’m being totally honest, I just don’t want it to happen.
That might be confusing to those who know my personal dissatisfactions with President Trump. They know that not only did I not support him in his bid for the presidency, but that I explicitly cautioned my fellow conservative Christians about being willing to tie themselves to a man with such questionable (at best), or even reprehensible (at worst) moral character. Why would I, in the moment of my vindication – the moment where I would be entitled to turn, shaking my head, and say “this is what I was warning about” – not want to see that happen?
The answer is pretty simple: because I think it would be disastrous and dangerous for our country. Not for the Republican Party. Not for the conservative ideology. Not for a political agenda or movement. For the country.
Having been on the receiving end of their wrath a few times, as well as more often having witnessed it directed at others who don’t agree with their politics, I can’t help but acknowledge that Trump has a cult that surrounds him. Most narcissists do. President Obama had one too. And just like the Obamabots would not, did not, and still won’t acknowledge the harmful and destructive disunity he sowed for political gain, the same can be said for the Trumpists.
They have unquestionably become convinced that the Mueller investigation is a corrupt, deep-state witch hunt. Conspiracy theories abound, and the social media narrowcasting effect only fuels them. The Trump cult listens either to Trump’s voice alone, or to those who have received his endorsement. Everyone else is fake news.
And so many voices in the media have fueled this dangerous practice by exposing themselves to be dishonest liars. It’s hard for anyone to prove Trump wrong about those in the media who criticize him when those in media persist on proving him right.
Should Trump be impeached, his cult will revolt. What that looks like exactly, I don’t know. Much of it might depend on what Trump himself tells them to do. And I fear what Trump would tell them to do. Meanwhile, the #Resistance on the left has already proven itself willing to turn violent if necessary.
And even barring violence, what happens to the credibility of our institutions, the efficacy of our laws, the stability of our system, with such rampant distrust on both sides? Remember, it was Republicans in Congress that urged Nixon to step aside in the tumultuous 70s. And it was Democrats who acknowledge Clinton’s sins in the 90s, even while admitting they didn’t think perjury about a sexual affair rose to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. The tribalism in both of those cases was nothing like it is today.
Perhaps the closest analogy to our time would be the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. The case against him was weak, fueled largely by a personal and professional hatred of him by members of Congress. His presidency was saved by one vote when seven Republican Senators sacrificed their political careers to vote not guilty. They feared the precedent that would be set with such a politically explosive impeachment; they feared the discontent that would spread at a time as volatile as those days immediately following the Civil War; they feared whether the office of the presidency could even survive his removal.
Should there be any level of ambiguity about the charges that may or may not be leveled against President Trump, I’m praying that House Democrats will choose the same as those seven Republican Senators in 1868, and here’s the fairly simple reason why:
No matter how awful you may think President Trump is, this much is sure: our country can survive the remainder of his term. Can it survive his pre-emptive impeachment and conviction, interpreted as a coup by his legion of supporters? I would be lying if I pretended I was confident it could.