Resorting to a vague “abuse of power” theory, the House Judiciary Committee Friday morning referred two articles of impeachment to the full House on the inevitable party-line vote.
The full House will impeach the president this week, perhaps Wednesday, also on the inevitable party-line vote. The scarlet “I” will be affixed to Donald Trump in the history books. He will not be removed from power by the Senate, however, and he has a fairly good chance of being reelected by the voters.
In sum, then, we are exactly where the Framers hoped we would never be when they added the impeachment clauses to the Constitution: in a governing system in which impeachment has been trivialized into a partisan weapon for straitjacketing the incumbent administration, rather than being reserved as a nuclear option for misconduct so egregious that Congress must act, transcending partisan, factional, or ideological considerations.
What will be the cost of trivializing impeachment this way?
I do not think that question will be answered in the Senate. It will be answered in the election next November. I fear that the answer will be banana republic-style dysfunction in government and a chasm of divisiveness in the body politic that may not be bridgeable.
That is because I believe the voters may enable Democrats to retain control of the House. In the absence of public objection to the politicization of impeachment, it is apt to become the new normal.