Like the cans of Warhol’s focus, we have found that the use of impeachment diluted its value. In the first 41 presidencies of our experiment with democracy, we used it only once. It held enough import that the threat of its use led Nixon to resign.. looking back from now, neither the deterrent that impeachment held – nor the danger posed by its loss of deterrence – can be overstated.
The choice to use impeachment to prosecute a perjury pertaining to a presidential peccadillo was, in retrospect, the beginning of the end of impeachment as a deterrence to presidential behavior as we saw over the last four years.. Considering the legacies of the “contract with america” conservatives of the era, I can’t help but think that this was an acceptable side effect in their minds as they choose to proceed.
Of course, as on the can in the comic, we can’t consider the impeachment supernova that was the 45th president without “Citizens United”, and the rise of the super-pacs – that presaged the rise of the first reality TV president by only one election.. and opened the floodgates to the resultant rise of dark money from the likes of the Koch bros, Adelson, and Mr Mypillow, etc, that we are still trying to come to terms with.
Given the funding realities of the elections from then on, the rise of someone like Trump is also a sad inevitability, not because they funded him directly, but because the entire landscape titled towards the extreme, setting up the clown car roller derby republican primary of 2016, which, as we saw, was just made for a reality TV fabulistic fornicating protofascist.
The real surprise then is the abject political nature of impeachment even in the face of what all, ALL serious thinking adults agree was the greatest internal threat to our democracy since the Civil War.
The legacy of McConnell’s tenure as leader of the Senate is the destruction of the process to select Supreme Court Justices, of impeachment as a meaningful deterrent.. of bipartisanship.