As reported by The Washington Post, a newly released Quinnipiac University poll shows that support for impeaching Trump and removing him from office has grown from 37% of registered voters to 47% in the latest survey. In the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “the polls have changed drastically about this… Our tone must be prayerful, respectful, solemn, worthy of the Constitution.”
Finally, it appears that the nation is coming around to the reality that Donald Trump has abused his power and must be held accountable. But why now? In other words, why have the president’s relentless attacks on migrant children not been enough to galvanize the House to impeach, or his proposed travel bans on Muslims, the near abandonment of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and his daily assaults on American institutions including the free press? None of these high crimes and misdemeanors ultimately shifted the dial. What it took was the president withholding foreign military aid in order to secure cooperation from a foreign government to get dirt on a political opponent. As nefarious and unconstitutional as the proposition may have been, it is no worse than his strategy to separate babies from their mothers. (According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 2,300 children were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border between May and June 2018.)
Given the gravity of his previous criminality, this impeachment inquiry reveals just how thoroughly militaristic, geopolitical and pragmatic America is. Think about it. The act of betrayal that ultimately forced moderate Democrats to push for an impeachment inquiry did not prioritize human rights, racial justice, economic prosperity or ecological sustainability. The act that ultimately compelled Nancy Pelosi to move ahead, even against her better political instincts, centered on a perceived threat to national security in the form of mishandled military aid. “We want to keep this simple,” said Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who heads the party’s messaging arm. He added: “This is not complicated. This is misconduct that the president has admitted to.” Sure. But did he not admit to wanting children separated from their parents?
With House Democrats and a growing percentage of Americans, I totally endorse the impeachment inquiry; at this point it is absolutely necessary. If not now, when? But let’s not fool ourselves. This impeachment process should have begun much earlier. When Trump turned his back on children and asylum seekers in such a callous and even lethal way, he should have been at the very least censured. Why did it take this crisis and not the others to finally move Democrats to act decisively?
George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY adjunct professor of philosophy and domestic violence counselor. He lives and works in Rochester, N.Y.