The Republican party is playing with fire. If House Republicans actually file articles of impeachment against the first African-American president, they can kiss the black vote goodbye, forever.
And the Hispanic vote, the Asian vote, and the South Asian vote.
The 2012 election illustrated that people of color generally, are turned off by the vicious attacks on President Obama, including the “birther” nonsense, and any move to remove him from office by way of impeachment will kill the Republican party in a way that their attempts to impeach President Clinton did not.
The cheapening of impeachment
Clinton’s impeachment cheapened the meaning of the word. Constitutionally, impeachment turns on the meaning of the phrase, “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and there has always been a debate over what exactly rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor to warrant impeachment and removal from office. If Republicans really want to go down the impeachment road, they better be ready for a fight.
2013 is not 1998, and the public writ will be much less willing to go along with the forced evolution of an inconvenient story for the Obama administration into an impeachable offense.
The “scandal” fever in Washington right now is a result of a few factors. One, the GOP lost the White House in 2012, even after four years of birthers, racists, and even some well-meaning Obama critics screaming socialism at the top of their lungs.
After “death panels” and Obamacare going from a slur to a compliment of the president’s signature legislation, the president still won handily, even in this struggling economy.
Posturing doesn’t solve problems
The impeachment talk is premature and unserious. Instead of disagreeing with the president on policy and introducing alternatives for debate, the GOP blocks debate, lies about the president’s plans, and smears his character on a daily basis. The problems in this country are far too serious for the GOP to even entertain a Senate impeachment trial that will only suck all of the oxygen out of Washington, making certain nothing gets done to combat climate change, make the necessary repairs and improvements to the country’s infrastructure, or put Americans back to work.
During the Clinton impeachment, it was clear that his affair with Monica Lewinsky was a mistake and demonstrated poor judgment on the part of the president, but a high crime and misdemeanor it was not.
There is nothing known at this moment about any of the “scandals” the Obama administration is dealing with right now that rise to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor, and Republicans who want to be taken seriously should say so.
It’s entirely reasonable for Republicans, even the ones who oppose the president on everything, to challenge the administration for their handling of whistleblowers and to request more information via congressional hearings to ensure that the IRS is handling itself ethically and legally in a post Citizens United World.
If the GOP is prepared to impeach the first black president, they should be prepared to watch Democrats solidify the emerging majority of black and brown voters against the Republican party for a generation.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.