The Most Predictable Impeachment In American History Is On The Horizon – Before 2019, formal impeachment proceedings against a president had only ever been launched twice in American history.
Four years later, that figure has doubled, with the possibility of a fifth on the horizon for President Joe Biden.
Impeachment is seemingly a predictable challenge any president will face from their opponents these days, even when evidence to prove them of wrongdoing is lacking – exactly the issue dominating political circles this week.
Joe Biden, Impeachment and the Current State of American Politics
Perhaps the exponential increase in the frequency of impeachment efforts is to blame on a number of factors. A majorly divided nation, reflected in the constant changes in control of the Senate and House of Representatives, results in a polarized electorate seeing their opposition as the enemy, rather than individuals with opposing views.
We are also at an unprecedented point in history. Never before have criminal charges been filed against a former president, let alone one who is likely to be Republican nominee in 2024. The reaction to each indictment against Donald Trump has broken all conventional norms; the severity of the allegations against him, all 91 of which he has claimed to be politically motivated, has only increased his support within the party.
A polarized nation experiencing a phenomenon for the first time produces a surprising amount of predictability. President Biden has been glaring at impeachment since he entered the Oval Office in 2021, and Republican control of the House changed the question of impeachment to one of “when.”
Why Did McCarthy Bother?
Let’s face it. Next year’s going to be Biden vs Trump. One will be on the campaign trail highlighting his administration’s successes, the other will be in the dock defending alleged election interference, attacks on democracy and the storage of classified documents at his Florida home.
An impeachment inquiry does not necessarily guarantee an impeachment itself. However, with all other avenues exhausted through the House Oversight Committee, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy really has no other choice to convince skeptical Republican lawmakers into supporting charges against the President. Conclusive evidence is lacking, yet growing pressure from the right is urging impeachment proceedings imminently.
Trump’s loyalists will get what they want; there’s no question about it. An inquiry provides further evidence, allowing McCarthy to convince Republicans who fear it is a baseless, politically motivated impeachment attempt. After all, the GOP has a majority of just five in the House, so defectors must be kept to a minimum.
Impeachment also sends a message to voters that criminal wrongdoing is an epidemic in Washington D.C. not just limited to Donald Trump. The 77-year-old’s ridden the waves of indictments so far to increase support, but that’s among party voters. Moderates are less likely to fall for Trump’s “witch hunt” rhetoric, but an impeached President Biden will also cast doubt on which is the lesser of two evils.
It’s all about politics, at the end of the day. And in a deeply divided nation, it’s no surprise a process which would “seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused” is used with such vigor in 2023.
The challenge, of course, is that even if House Republicans bring a vote on impeachment on Joe Biden, it could fail. Then there is the question of whether the Democratic Senate will even vote on impeachment. And even if a vote does occur, there is no chance of a conviction. And all of this is very much predictable indeed. Why bother?
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.