Two experts from Princeton University published an article this morning in USA Today saying that Democrats must immediately take action to impeach Donald Trump. If they don’t, they wrote, the president may do irreparable harm to our democracy.
Princeton professors Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer want to send this message to Democrats: they should not care about the political controversy they may cause by impeaching Trump.
According to them, Democrats must act now or risk letting the president destroy our country.
The historians’ basic argument is that Trump must be held accountable now if the United States is to remain a true, functioning democracy.
On this point they wrote:
“Accountability is essential to the long-term health of our democracy, more important than even healing the nation’s partisan divisions.”
“The United States learned this lesson 45 years ago. In August 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace as soon as it became clear that the House would vote to impeach him for obstructing justice in the Watergate scandal and, moreover, that the Senate would likely vote to remove him from office.”
Kruse and Zelizer then argued that President Gerald Ford’s decision to give Nixon a full pardon as a way to “heal” the nation actually damaged faith in American institutions. The damage, they said, was caused when Ford put Nixon above the law, sending a message to average Americans that political elites would not be held accountable under our legal and political systems.
They made the important point that the United States has continued to suffer the consequences of Ford’s pardon, even to this day, writing:
“The nation has continued to pay for its failure to hold Nixon accountable.”
“The divisions that Ford had hoped to paper over with his pardon have only continued to widen. Moreover, the general trend — toward a vague sense of ‘healing’ instead of holding specific wrongdoers accountable — has only continued to erode the public’s faith in government over the ensuing decades.”
The writers concluded their op-ed by asking that Democrats take immediate steps to right decades of historical wrongs. They could do this by drawing a line at Trump’s illegal and treasonous behavior. They should do everything in their power to prevent Trump from escaping justice.
“As evidence continues to mount about all that President Trump and his advisers have done to violate the public trust, Democrats won’t have much choice,” they wrote. “If they want to heal the nation, not just for what’s happened under Trump but also for what’s happened in the decades before, they should make sure that wrongdoing is set right.”
The truth is that Donald Trump, his children, and his cronies and business associates are “elites” who have escaped justice for years. If Trump is not held accountable for his crimes, then Vladimir Putin will have succeeded in his primary goal: to undermine faith in American democracy.
Democrats in Congress are now in a position to prevent this from happening, and they must be sure that everything they do is focused on this number one goal: saving the country from the damage done by Donald Trump.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.