Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2019

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Brian Greenspun:

Where I Stand: For now, voters should decide ‘impeachment’ in 2020

To impeach or not to impeach. That is the question.

Actually, that is just one question Americans must answer as we head toward the 2020 presidential election cycle. My answer is simple. Not yet.

I am writing about impeachment because that seems to be the most asked question of those who follow politics and governing in this country ever since the Mueller report was released to Congress and the public earlier this month and ever since President Donald Trump declared last week that he would stonewall Congress, the law and the Constitution.

When I say “ not yet” it is with the perhaps too optimistic belief that the American people — and through them their representatives in Congress — can do more than one thing at a time. At this point, that simple statement of hope and faith is nowhere close to a certainty.

There is no question in my mind — and there hasn’t been one practically from the day President Trump took office and became fixated on an inauguration crowd that did not exist — that the leader of our country and the free world is ill-fitted to the task.

I have given no one any reason to think I believe differently today. In fact, as each day passes, the president continues to be his own worst enemy as he finds even more reasons to concern Americans who still believe we are a country of laws and not men.

Impeaching him, however, is a different matter.

We are barely 18 months away from the 2020 election. That is the time when the American voter can decide positively and with a loud and unequivocal voice that President Trump should be impeached. We will just do it at the ballot box and not through the other, all-but-impossible route prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

Why wait, you ask?

Because I don’t believe in the fool’s errand impeachment will be, given the lack of collective spine that inhabits the United States Senate — two thirds of which will have to vote in favor of conviction in order to remove the president. Unless the world starts to end — it could still happen any day now — it is highly unlikely that the Republican members of the Senate will gather a patriotic will sufficient to do their constitutional duty and rid the country of the Orange Menace.

Short of impeachment proceedings, though, I do believe that Congress should continue its investigations into what the Russians did to interfere with and undermine our elections and what they continue to do; what conflicting financial entanglements the president and his family have with people and countries with whom America does business and to whom he might be beholden; any and all evidence of obstruction of justice so carefully laid out in the Mueller report; and why and to what extent the executive branch of our government can ignore lawful orders and inquiries of the legislative branch, in contravention of the separation of powers doctrine set forth in the Constitution by our forefathers. Just for starters!

But, at the same time, I also believe that the Democrats should concentrate on the reason they were elected in 2018. And that is to govern, to lead and to show the American voter that someone in government actually cares enough to try to make their lives a little better.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls the legislation that comes out of the House of Representatives. She can lead that chamber down the path of making this union more perfect and this government more responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans.

We need comprehensive immigration reform. That means borders that work and resolving once and for all the plight of 12 million undocumented people who are already here and who wish to stay, pay taxes, raise families and get on a path toward being law-abiding citizens.

We need to repair and replace our crumbling infrastructure — our roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and modes of transportation — so that the wealthiest country on the planet can once again boast about the quality of its infrastructure instead of making excuses for why nothing works anymore.

We need to fix Obamacare. The public likes what it has, but we would like it to work better, cost less and be more accessible to our friends and neighbors. No one, other than a few cynical politicians, wants to go back to that time when people died for lack of adequate health care or were forced into bankruptcy because they made life-saving decisions that broke their bank accounts.

We need to make sure that every adversary of ours — Russia are you listening — knows that they can no longer interfere with our elections, taking advantage of some gullible voters, spreading lies and deceit to others, all toward the end of manipulating our democracy to do their bidding, not ours.

And we need to create a tax system that encourages hard work and rewards those who follow the rules by making education for their families more affordable and accessible, and a better lifestyle for the next generation a reachable goal.

We can do all this if the Democrats in the House of Representatives get off their current path of fighting with each other over who can be more out of touch with the mainstream of American thought and get on the same page — the one that demands action that will move the collective ball forward toward that more perfect union.

It doesn’t matter that the Senate’s Mitch McConnell will thwart the House’s every move — which he has committed to do — it only matters that the legislation is passed out of the House. You never know what will move the Republican-controlled Senate once the challenge is placed before them. Either way, the voters can make a knowledgeable choice in 2020 based on the quality of legislation the House advances over the next 18 months.

The voters will know what the Democrats stand for by seeing what the laws could be that benefit American working men and women and make their own decisions at the ballot box.

The people can vote for progress and a better America or more of the same thing we are getting now:

A broken immigration system with kids in cages; a crumbling infrastructure that belies our wealth and technological ability; a health care system that refuses to make people better by consciously making everything worse; an economic system that continually increases the gap between the few very rich and the many very poor; and a Republican Party that has been co-opted by a Russian adversary bent on our destruction.

We are a great country with considerable talent. We can legislate a better world to live in at the same time we investigate the wrongdoings and shortcomings of those who have failed to live up to their oaths of office.

If Congress does that, if it shows the country it can lead, then there is no reason to talk about impeachment now.

If it fails to act just because it is hard or because Democrats like to fight among themselves, then the Democrats will have proved that they don’t deserve the chance to govern.

And that will re-elect Donald Trump. And that’s when we can talk about impeachment — again.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun