“Good people don’t defend a bad man.”
That’s what a friend of mine wrote on her Facebook page when news of the whistleblower broke. Another friend, a former Justice Department lawyer, wrote on Facebook that President Trump should have been impeached from the “moment he gave his inaugural address.”
These strongly-worded views likely reflect those of a large slice of good, patriotic Americans who were surprised, disappointed and frustrated with the results of the 2016 election. For these Americans, the president has disqualified himself by behaving unethically, immorally and corruptly. We hear this perspective on a daily basis on MSNBC — an ironic fact, given the major role MSNBC’s Morning Joe played in humanizing candidate Trump by having him as a guest dozens of times in 2015 and early 2016.
Such a perspective, however, doesn’t take into account the wide range of reasons other good, patriotic Americans supported and voted for Trump. Many of these voters were uncomfortable with social changes imposed by progressives. And even if you are a progressive, it’s hard to deny that the changes of the past few years occurred quickly. President Obama entered the White House opposing gay marriage. Eight years later, he left not only having reversed his position, but also having created rules requiring every public-school bathroom be usable by transgender girls.
Other Trump voters singled out abortion or gun control, prioritizing Trump’s judicial picks over his obvious flaws. Some wanted a strong military or shift in foreign policy after Obama’s “red line” and movement away from allies such as Israel and Poland. Others wanted a candidate with business experience who could strengthen the economy and create jobs. Some wanted raw honesty and strength on issues like trade and immigration.
Others were mesmerized by Trump and looked forward to four years of entertainment. (I met an African American cab driver who cited this as the reason for his early support for Trump). Some simply couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because they disliked, disagreed with or distrusted her. And yes, there were some — I like to believe it was a small number — who simply wouldn’t vote for a woman, just as some in prior generations refused to vote for Mormon, African American, Jewish or Catholic candidates.
No matter what you think of these reasons, none of them ultimately matters — and that is the point. It is the essence of democracy to allow every citizen the right to choose what criteria they use to cast their votes. This makes our democracy messy. Far too often, the random assortment of issues each party prioritizes results in two final candidates who are wishy-washy or simply toe the party line.
In my ideal world, we would approach electing a president the way we do hiring the CEO of a major firm: We would agree on requisite experience, temperament, skills and ethics, as well as disqualifiers. We would hire experts to recruit the best candidates, rigorously interview them and then select the candidate we thought was most likely to succeed.
I didn’t vote for President Trump. But it worries me that he has become a litmus test for whether someone is an ally or enemy. Impeachment proceedings will only divide us further, especially if they remain a partisan initiative.
Our Constitution allows impeachment as a safety valve in the case of extreme circumstances. And while the founding fathers considered many contingencies, an unconventional president eagerly pushing the limits of propriety and willing to use the levers of government to investigate a leading challenger was probably not something they would have welcomed.
Whether Congress decides President Trump’s actions qualify as a “high crime or misdemeanor” remains to be seen. In the meantime, we can help preserve our nation by listening and respecting those with whom we disagree.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.