“If you’re not going to impeach Donald Trump, for a multitude of extremely serious crimes, who is impeachable?” –Sarah Kendzior
I was enraged and demoralized at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment comments last week. I assumed everyone else would be too.
I… was wrong.
The swift eruption of social media support quickly descended into the worst of tribalist human impulse, all but worshipping her so-called Strategy Genius instead of applying any critical thinking whatsoever to her statements. I immediately felt gaslit, and feel grateful for the few voices speaking truth to the horror of Pelosi’s words. I’d like to throw in my two cents as well.
Pelosi’s comments were cruel and abusive. When she says impeaching Trump is “not worth it” she is really saying that America is not worth it. That we are not worth it. That the kids separated from their parents being sexually assaulted in concentration camps at the Texas border are not worth it. That trans people trying to serve us in the military are not worth it. That Jamal Khashoggi and every other journalist in fear of their life is not worth it. That every victim of Trump’s stochastic terrorism isn’t worth it. That every American who is helplessly watching our country disintegrate into autocracy before our eyes is not worth it. The Speaker of the House of Representatives just told us we are not worth fighting for.
I’m dismayed and unsettled at the defenses of her, and I’m putting on my lawyer cap to dismantle the most common of them, one by one. Let’s dig in.
Argument #1: Pelosi is playing to Trump’s narcissism and ego. Her strategy is to hurt his feelings.
Okay. And if she hurts his feelings, he’ll do what, exactly? Shout, “Ouch, my pride! Please impeach me now, I’m worth it! Really, Nancy, I am!” Trump doesn’t give one flying shit what Pelosi thinks of him personally. He only fears her ability to take or kneecap his power. The only way she can do that is to pull back the curtain on his crimes through oversight hearings and a publicized impeachment trial. But by taking impeachment off the table, she has ceded that power. Trump is well aware, and he is delighted. His precious feelings aren’t the least bit hurt. Also, this isn’t about Trump’s ego. This isn’t about petty vindication or schadenfreude. This is about protecting the American people from a criminal in the White House and upholding the Constitution.
Argument #2: Even if the House impeaches, the Senate won’t convict to remove him, so a) what’s the point; and b) that will garner sympathy from his base and shore up his support.
A two-parter. Alright, with respect to the first claim, the POINT is that it’s the right thing to do. He has committed multiple impeachable offenses, and that alone is reason to impeach him. It’s often said that a company’s culture is dictated by the worst behavior they are willing to tolerate. The same can be said of a country, I think. The point of impeachment is to let the world know that America values democracy, transparency, and the rule of law. That we do not stand for corruption and lawlessness. That there are consequences to breaking the law and the public’s trust. That we put the well-being of the ordinary people who do all the working and living and dying in this great nation over the wishes of a few rich mobsters.
As to the second part of this assertion, this is nonsensical. His base will support him no matter what. Also, his base is a minority of the American voting public. They should not be taken into account. There’s literally nothing Democrats can do or not do to make one single dent in the support of his base. So who cares? What Pelosi and the Democrats have a chance to do here is to educate the rest of the public and shore up support for the rule of law and democracy and rooting out corruption. Impeachment hearings bring information to public light. Congressional hearings cut through everyone’s information bubbles and present the truth in plain sight. Getting information tends to sway public opinion. When ordinary, non-MAGA people realize just how bad this is, just how deep the rot has imbedded, the vast majority will enthusiastically endorse impeachment.
But Julie, the Senate still won’t convict. Of course the Senate won’t convict! I know that, you know that, Trump knows that. That’s no excuse to not do your fucking job. But more importantly, when Pelosi and others throw up their hands and say oh, we can’t impeach because the Senate won’t convict, they are letting Republicans set the terms. They are willingly giving Republicans the upper hand. What Democrats should be doing instead is controlling the narrative here, by saying we in the House are laying Trump’s crimes bare and doing the moral, lawful thing by impeaching, and if the Senate doesn’t rise to the occasion, then they will have that on their conscience and their voting record, which is their problem, not ours.
Argument #3: You’re misunderstanding Pelosi’s genius. She didn’t take impeachment off the table completely, she just wants to wait for a big enough smoking gun to get bipartisan support for it.
Argument #4: We have to wait for the Mueller report.
Why? We have plenty of options for impeachment already. Hell, they could base it on James Comey’s or Michael Cohen’s testimony alone. Remember, impeachment does not have to rise to a criminal law standard. There are so many options, just pick one. Waiting on the Mueller report is a fool’s errand. First off, there is no timeline. Mueller has free rein to take as long as he needs. We could be waiting years. Secondly, assuming Mueller completes his investigation soon, how do you know Attorney General Barr and his goons won’t doctor the report? Or even destroy it? Or redact it beyond usefulness under the guise of “classified information”? How do you know he’ll even let Congress see it? Gambling on this is incredibly stupid.
Argument #5: Pelosi is playing the long game, she’s playing 3-D chess, and we need to just trust her.
This isn’t some fucking game! This is a national security emergency, a constitutional crisis! People are dying out there. We have a dangerous, sociopathic, mobbed up, Russian asset in the White House. This deeply corrupt criminal, this wannabe dictator has access to the nuclear codes. This is not a game! There’s no time for 3-D chess, we are already in serious trouble. It’s past time to hit the panic button. I do not trust Pelosi and you shouldn’t either. She is a public servant. Her job is to protect the American people, and right now she is failing miserably at her job. She deserves no trust, no benefit of the doubt. Look, I’m glad she can walk and put on sunglasses at the same time while wearing an admittedly gorgeous coat. But that doesn’t warrant hero-worship, and it certainly doesn’t negate her duties and obligations. She works for us, and we must hold her accountable. It’s reckless and irresponsible to build a cult of personality around her. She is not our Savior and she does not deserve blind faith.
Argument #6: Impeachment is so divisive, it’s better for the country if we just vote him out in 2020.
What makes you so sure this will happen? Why do you assume the 2020 election will be free and fair? 2016 wasn’t. Why do you assume Democrats will put up a good candidate in 2020? (I’ll thank you to remember that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the current primary frontrunners, oh dear god.) Why do you assume voter turnout will be sufficient seeing as NOTHING is being done to curb rampant voter suppression, and Trump is already engaging in stochastic terrorism with respect to voter intimidation in 2020? Also, Pelosi is likely alienating potential 2020 Democratic voters with this stunt. We came out in droves to vote in the 2018 midterms. We took time away from our work and our families to canvas and phone bank for you Democrats, we gave up our hard-earned money to your campaigns, we stood in line for hours to vote, public figures risked their brands to stump for you. We did all this because we thought you were going to DO something about this horror show. We thought you were going to go in and impeach the motherfucker. Now that we know you aren’t, why should we bother on your behalf in 2020?
I’ll leave you with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s profound words that sadly, could not be more pertinent to these frightening times:
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
Hummus with Meat All Over It + Zhoug
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- ½ cup tahini
- ¾ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup cold water
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 tsp aleppo pepper
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- Black pepper
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- 5 jalapenos, coarsely chopped (seed if you desire; I did not)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Pita chips or other crackers, for serving
- Place the chickpeas in your food processor. Add the lemon juice, tahini, salt, and garlic. Process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the water. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened. Add salt to taste, Aleppo pepper, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and a few turns of black pepper. Cool slightly.
- In a food processor, combine the jalapenos, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, a few turns of black pepper, and the olive oil. Blend until it’s the consistency of pesto, adding more olive oil as needed. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Spread the hummus on a large dinner plate. Top with the beef mixture, then sprinkle the pine nuts and parsley all over. Use your pita chips or crackers to scoop up the hummus and beef, and spoon a little zhoug over each chip.