Donald Trump and controversy are inseparable. Trump’s latest controversial case emerged when he fired the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) James Comey. Following his termination, Comey released a memo to The New York Times, accusing the President of obstructing justice; because the President ordered an investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn to be closed. Flynn’s investigation concerned the President’s uncomfortably close links with Russia. It is a significant incident since the prospect of enacting the 25th Amendment (impeachment) has become greater than a prospect. Yet, it will only be achieved should a third of Republicans voters perceive the President to be incompetent. Constitutionally, impeachment may be appropriate since it is an obstruction of justice, but is impeachment the best case scenario for America?
If the countless protests outside Trump Tower are anything to go by, enacting the 25th Amendment would likely create a repeat of the hostilities that plagued American society following Clinton’s defeat. From the perspective of populists, a Trump impeachment would be perceived as the establishment removing their great leader, since they are not concerned in the slightest with the profound negative effects of globalisation. Trump being impeached would mark a return to the disillusionment that was prevalent during President Obama’s tenure. For example, in 2011, Monmouth College conducted a poll amongst mid-Westerners and 69% of the focus group believed that the American economy was ‘heading in the wrong direction,’ and a measly 4% of Republican voters believed the nation was ‘on track’. There is a correlation between widespread disillusionment and electing far-right officials, look at the 1930s. The reason why this happens is due to the sense that life cannot get any worse and the disenchantment within the mid-west must’ve reached extraordinarily high levels to elect Trump. Impeaching him would produce greater disillusionment and the percentages referred to earlier would undoubtedly get worse. America is extremely divided as it is, and a Trump impeachment would only exacerbate these present divisions between the elites and the American people.
Opponents complain that Trump is irrational and senseless, but Vice President Pence would be worse for America in the event of his impeachment. In this regard, appointing Pence was one of Trump’s smartest moves. Pence’s views are wholly controversial, more controversial even than the likes of France’s Le Pen. Pence will use his Evangelical beliefs as an excuse for his stance on certain issues, but religion shouldn’t blur morality; his opposition to funding treatment for HIV and AIDS sufferers, as well as his advocating for the use of gay conversion therapy is abhorrent. Gay conversion therapy is a warped and disturbing practice that attempts – by means of electrocution – to ‘convert’ gay people into heterosexuals, it is an extremely medieval and antiquated practice which has no place in the supposed ‘land of the free’. Suddenly, President Trump’s denial of climate change and his obsession over the Mexican border doesn’t sound all that bad.
Impeaching Trump would not only bring a plethora of social risks, but it would also bring political danger. Whatever voters think of Pence’s extreme policies, he is a social conservative and many Republicans hold him in a high regard, in particular, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan who would become the new Vice President if Trump was to be impeached. What is more attractive to the Republican cause is Pence’s less hostile approach towards Islam, in contrast to Trump. Pence demonstrated an element of morality by opposing US Muslim bans – describing them as ‘offensive and unconstitutional’ and his social conservatism makes him a viable option for the Washington Republican elite; exemplified through his stance on policy and voting record. He is more moderate than Trump regarding free trade, advocating multilateral deals such as NAFTA and the Transatlantic Trading Partnership. This is perfectly echoed by his remark in July 2016, arguing that ‘no nation (can be/is) ruined by trade’. Excluding his views on abortion and the LGBT community, you wouldn’t describe Pence as radical – opposing illegal immigration, lowering taxation, supporting austerity measures, for example, are just reflected by the conservative government in the UK. The Democrats would be in a serious election contest against Pence since he would not be considered the ‘joke’ candidate contrastingly to Trump. Even though the people may not agree with austerity measures, the U.S. election is not decided by the popular vote – if Pence is representative of the elite then will be more successful under the Electoral College system.
Constitutionally, impeaching Donald Trump is the right decision: a precedent of obstructing justice cannot be accepted. Yet removing Trump would bring even more issues if Pence were to replace him; his homophobia and refusal to help HIV and AIDS sufferers would surely be more appalling than Trump’s ‘alternative facts’. In any case, it is difficult to see how American society can recover from the accentuated social and political divisions created by Trump’s government.