As one of the most polarizing presidents in American history, Donald Trump has many detractors and people who wish to see him removed. I imagine many of those people felt vindicated when Nancy Pelosi recently announced she was opening an impeachment inquiry.
Regardless of my personal politics, I believe that the Democratic Party is the victim of poor timing, having waited too long to begin the process.
President Trump is already very deep into his presidential term. While some would argue this is a good thing, as memories of the impeachment inquiry could make Trump look worse when seeking re-election, I have to question the value of attempting to remove a president one year out from the next election.
It could have a positive effect. In times like these, politicians show their true colors, and while the majority of the House supports the impeachment inquiry (the New York Times reports 224 out of 235 House Democrats support impeachment, while only the remaining 11 said no with all Republicans opposed or undecided), the decisions of particular members could have implications for their potential re-election.
Naturally, the presidential candidates on the Democratic side have varying degrees of commitment to impeachment, none more so than Kamala Harris, who has been advocating for this move for months via Twitter.
Donald Trump has shown us he is lawless, and last week he gave us even more evidence that he is not fit for office.He must be impeached.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 30, 2019
The timing of the inquiry has simply added another hot-button topic for Democratic debates, and a topic like this could be a deciding factor for voters.
While wild speculation runs rampant regarding the potential outcomes, there are a few reasonable ideas. Depending on your political views, they range from great to worst-case.
For anyone who is unsure of exactly how impeachment works, here is the breakdown: the House of Representatives is given the sole right by the U.S. Constitution to make the formal impeachment. Then, the document reserves the right to conduct the trial for the Senate. The Senate then votes on whether the president should be impeached, and then makes a separate decision about whether the accused should be allowed to run again.
Probably the most vanilla outcome would be if an eventual impeachment trial fails. In this scenario, it would be left up to the American people to decide if they want the fourth-ever president to have impeachment leveled at him in office again (following Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton).
On the other end of the spectrum, Trump could be impeached, removed from office and barred from running again. This is the scenario most Democrats would hope for, although with Trump’s aggressive nature (and that of his most avid followers), you have to wonder if he would try to fight this outcome.
The most interesting scenario is if Trump is impeached but not banned from running again. According to Austin Serat of The Conversation, it could cause an adverse effect, with Republican voters seeking revenge in 2020. And even if he fails to get re-elected in 2020, nothing would be stopping him from running again in 2024, having served only one term.
Obviously the impeachment of a sitting president has wide-reaching consequences, and it is impossible to predict every outcome. The most important thing to remember is that as the people, we still have power, and even if the inquiry doesn’t go the way you personally want it to, you can voice your opinion in November 2020.