Democrats, you have a problem.
On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee opened an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
Brushing aside weeks of obfuscation, the committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, laid it on the line. His committee, he said, has set out on a course that may — just may — result in impeachment by the House of the president of the United States.
Tom “Need to Impeach” Steyer, the billionaire investor and Democrat candidate for his party’s presidential nomination, applauded the news. Steyer has been busting his chops for months for an honest-to-goodness impeachment reckoning for Trump.
Steyer is not alone.
Some 136 Democratic members of the House have crossed the Rubicon into impeachment land. In addition to Nadler, some of other voices for impeachment belong to:
n Yvette Clark of Massachusetts, who has tweeted, “We have to impeach [Trump]....”
n Brad Sherman of California, who stated that Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey was reason enough to turn the president out of office.
n Veronica Escobar of Texas, who let it be known that “another fours years” of Trump “terrified” her.
n And Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who declared, simply, “I support impeachment.”
Rep. Joe Kennedy, who’s itching to move to the Senate in 2020 so much that he is willing to trample fellow Massachusetts liberal Ed Markey in the process, said as early as last January, “I believe it is time to begin impeachment proceedings.”
Dwight Evans of Philadelphia joined Steyer on a “Party To Impeach” tour back in February 2018.
As for local Democrats, Pittsburgh congressman Mike Doyle tweeted on June 2, “I believe it’s time to initiate an impeachment inquiry.”
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the field of Democrats who want to see Donald Trump booted from office is this: almost without exception, they represent heavily Democratic districts.
Unconcerned that they themselves might be kicked from office by Republican challengers, they roam the halls of Congress unencumbered by autumnal re-election worries. They are similar, in this respect, to the vast majority of House Republicans.
This, then, is the Democrats’ problem, for on the side of the ledger that wants to slow or halt the impeachment express are Democrats who do have to contend with Republican challengers. Their constituencies are closely divided; in some cases, they represent districts with more registered Republicans than Democrats.
Jerry Nadler, who represents the West Side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn (Greenwich Village to Coney Island) and, to be fair, may be primaried by the far left of his party, is placing these hard-working, hard-scrabble Democrats in peril.
So who are the endangered ones? Here’s a sampling.
Ami Bera represents a majority Republican California congressional district. She has said, concerning impeachment, “I don’t think that is where we should go.”
Anthony Brindisi represents a majority Republican district in New Jersey. He has said impeaching Trump would be a “mistake.”
Colin Phillips represents a bright red district in Minnesota. “The point is,” he has said, “the Senate’s not going to take [impeachment] up, so what does it accomplish?”
Abigail Spanberger is a Virginia Democrat with a Republican-leaning constituency. “There’s a real need ... to get stuff done,” she’s commented.
And then there is Conor Lamb, whose suburban Allegheny County district is slightly red. Lamb, who first entered Congress by beating a Republican with impeccable Trumpian credentials, has been growled at by area Dems for the reluctance he’s shown on the Trump impeachment front.
He stated, “I think some people are trying to rush [impeachment] through.... But my point is, let’s get to the right answers no matter how long it takes....”
Lamb, clearly, is not eager to impeach. Equally clear, he doesn’t want to splash cold water in the faces of his never-Trump constituents.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi recognizes a political downside when she sees one. That’s why she’s consistently been an impeachment skeptic. That why, in recent days, she’s leaked word that she thinks the Judiciary Committee and Jerry Nadler are moving way too fast in a direction the Democratic Party should not be going.
Right now, there aren’t enough votes in the House to impeach Trump. And the Senate will never convict.
Democrats, you have a problem.
Richard Robbins lives in Uniontown. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.