Constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz makes the argument that impeaching President Donald Trump for speech that incited last week’s insurrection at the nation’s Capitol is wrong and counterproductive. He argues that the president’s speech is protected under the First Amendment and warns that making it easy to impeach a president for what he or she says is a double-edged sword, one certain to hurt Democrats as well as Republicans.
As is his habit, Mr. Dershowitz makes the argument more for his benefit than anything else. What he argues is debatable. The Supreme Court has ruled that to advocate for a use of force is constitutionally permissible unless it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”
Reasonable people can disagree, but to more than a few Americans, what they saw and heard on January 6, 2021 was speech from the president that incited the crowd to storm the capitol, and no one doubts that the action was lawless. Mr. Trump’s example, and his eventual impeachment from the House also serves as a reminder to all who follow that one’s words have consequence. It’s odd that Mr. Dershowitz thinks Mr. Trump’s example would be anything less than a dramatic reminder to curb one’s baser instincts.
As with Mr. Trump’s first impeachment the chances are low that the Senate will vote to convict Mr. Trump. The Democrats need 60 votes; they may not even have all 50 of their own, and it’s highly doubtful the Republicans will give them the 10 votes the Democrats need.
It’s important, however, that the effort be made for no reason other than the need to solidify the impression that, as a politician, his days are done. This is why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has severed his relationship with the president and why he’s playing the game the way he’s playing it. He’s figuring out how best to rid the Republicans of Mr. Trump.
Mr. McConnell can be blamed for too little, too late, but he’s the most powerful Republican in Congress. Whatever he can do to cast in stone Mr. Trump’s perception as a political liability is useful. People gradually fall away from people seen as losers. Mr. Trump included.
It would be hard to see Mr. Trump any other way. Under his reign, he lost control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Something that hasn’t been done since Herbert Hoover. He is solely responsible for Georgia’s two senatorial seats going to the Democrats, which cost Mr. McConnell control of the Senate.
It’s important to continue the pressure — and not bend in to the “but he only has a couple of days left” mantra — because it may be the only way to tone down the extremists. It can be argued that Trump’s coalition will not disappear into the shadows when he leaves office, but it can also be argued that without him his following will not increase. Advocates don’t follow leaders who fade from view and who are tarnished.
It’s also worth remembering that those who showed up last week were a minuscule percentage of the 74 million people who voted for Mr. Trump. Most are already looking for new leadership and most understand that Mr. Trump’s exit has erased all the good he may think he’s done.
When this is all put together, Mr. Dershowitz’s efforts to figure out what constitutes protected speech and what doesn’t seems so misplaced; he fiddles while the Capitol is ransacked.
Mr. Dershowitz’s thoughts notwithstanding, perhaps the most important voices are those coming from the nation’s businesses, the ones that are pulling their support from Mr. Trump and those who supported his efforts to block certification of the electoral vote.
Now that’s power used effectively.
by Emerson Lynn