THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY?
Our country appears to have become so divided and partisan that it may in fact be impossible now to get the divided House and Senate to judge the Trump matter with any objectivity or impartiality,
There was no reason for the Founders to have anticipated the present impasse and stalemate. Although some were wary of political parties and warned of the dangers of factionalism to the new republic, parties themselves did not yet exist, and it would have been impossible to foresee a time when the very machinery of government would be consumed with securing partisan advantage over all else.
What might the Founders have thought and provided for if they had predicted the divides that exist now?
First, they would have realized that sitting Representatives and Senators in many cases would be prisoners in their own districts, subject to political retaliation from both directions for deviation from orthodoxy. That obviously makes it very hard for those officials to act independently or objectively, knowing their jobs and income are at risk.
Second, they would have looked for the equivalent of “electors” – a group of knowledgeable and independent people who could render impartial judgement free of political interest and influence. Fewer than one-third of Americans can identify the three branches of government. In the absence of widespread public understanding, it is impossible for a public consensus to emerge on impeachment.
Third, there are currently more than 100 former members of the House and Senate, and probably thousands of retired judges who could constitute a body of “impeachers” – enough to be sufficiently able to judge such a case without the partisan baggage that sitting members naturally struggle with.
Among the obvious reasons the founders never thought of those folks was that they did not yet exist!
Implementing such an extra-Constitutional solution today would require the House and the Senate to legislatively agree on a compromise process to put the question before a suitable group of ‘Former Representatives and Senators and Other Distinguished Public Officials.’ Accordingly, it seems exceedingly unlikely to occur. But as we stand at the precipice of losing all Executive branch accountability, we must do something.
Of course, there would be plenty to squabble about in the details of gathering a decent group of impeachers – political affiliation, time out of office — to collect a fair, knowledgeable and objective jury.
If we want to get this behind us and get on with running our great country, this might be an idea worth considering.