Why I disagree with most Americans about Trump

Commenters keep telling me that I have to stop being such an elitist, and listen to the gripes of the average American.  (Personally, I’d rather listen to the gripes of the average Bangladeshi.)  For example, take this recent poll:

Three weeks into Trump’s run as president, a poll was published by Public Policy Polling that illustrates the divide in the country: 46 percent of voters are in favor of impeaching Trump, and 46 percent are opposed.

So 54% of Americans either favor impeaching Trump or are undecided. I’m in the minority, with the 46% of Americans who are firmly opposed to impeaching Trump. What makes elitists like me unwilling to listen to the voice of average Americans? I think it’s because elitist intellectuals understand the importance of process.  It might provide momentary pleasure to impeach a president you hate, just as it would be nice to muzzle some neo-Nazi spouting off in your neighborhood.  But in the long run our society will be better off if we don’t follow our Latin American cousins, and instead adhere to clearly spelled out democratic procedures. One of those procedures is that we elect a president every 4 years, and that person can only be removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors. (I don’t quite know what that means either, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t apply to Trump . . . yet.)

I understand that “process” is something that only college professors care about, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Because I favor a rules-based regime, I’m ignoring the popular will on Trump and sticking with the 46% who favor sticking with Trump, for the moment.

Ironically, one of the many unappealing features of Trump is that he has zero understanding of the importance of process, indeed less so that any major American politician in my lifetime.  For Trump, it’s all about “winning”.

PS.  It’s kind of scary to think that 54% of Americans are even more deranged and unhinged about Trump than I am.  I have a below average amount of Trump derangement.

PPS.  When they say “high crimes and misdemeanors”, do they mean high crimes and high misdemeanors, or high crimes and all misdemeanors?  What are some examples of impeachable offenses that are not crimes?




37 Responses to “Why I disagree with most Americans about Trump”

  1. Gravatar of Jim Jim
    26. February 2017 at 09:36

    1. In the main most voters vote for party not the candidate.
    2. The margin of victory appears to be more folks voted against Hilary than against Trump.
    3. In a democracy and sometimes the folks I don’t like win, but that is a feature not a bug.
    4. For better or worst the GOP as a party has to figure out to govern. Hopefully they do. If not, there is always another election.

    I agree on letting the process work.

    Impeachment was a great fund and rabble raiser for the GOP. Now the Democrats turn.

  2. Gravatar of Rich Rich
    26. February 2017 at 09:38

    I think high crimes and misdemeanors are just fancy language for whatever we want to use to get rid of this guy

  3. Gravatar of Ram Ram
    26. February 2017 at 10:50

    I’m not sure what the 46% think makes him impeachable already, and I agree that he should only be impeached in the event that he is convicted of impeachable offenses, as defined by our pre-existing legal system. That said, if it turns out that Trump knowingly enlisted the help of Russian intelligence and cyberwarfare operatives to improve his election odds, I presume that would be sufficient grounds for impeachment (but I’m no expert on the constitution). If you proposed such a scenario to me a couple of years ago, I would have laughed it off as preposterous, but today I’m not so sure. We somehow have to account for (1) Trump’s sycophantic statements about Putin, (2) Flynn’s connections to RT and communications with the Russian ambassador (and Trump’s casual handling of these), (3) Manafort’s ties to the pro-Putin former leader of Ukraine, the undocumented money, and the threat of blackmail against him, (4) Trump’s employment of Carter Page, who is financially under Putin’s thumb, (5) the Steele dossier, which is mostly unverified, but parts of which have been verified, and which was produced by an otherwise credible former intelligence analyst, (6) the modification of the GOP platform to turn a blind eye to the Crimea situation, besides which there was zero input from the Trump team on the platform, and (7) the conclusion of 17 intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the election at least in part to improve Trump’s odds. I don’t know what explains these data (maybe there really is nothing noteworthy here), but the inference to the best explanation is that Trump’s associates were in communication with Russian government officials about their efforts to help Trump win, and plausibly Trump was at least aware of this. Obviously we need much, much more evidence before we can substantiate a legal conclusion, but you can understand why many people paying attention to these developments expect such evidence to eventually materialize, and thus expect Trump to eventually be impeachable.

  4. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    26. February 2017 at 10:51

    I’m not sure there isn’t already a basis for impeachment, given the conflicts of interest. Short of impeachment, Trump could be given some ultimatums concerning those conflicts.

    That being said, the 25th amendment is always an option too, and one I think should be used immediately.

    That said, Trump is unlikely to be removed unless the Republican base abandons him, which means things would have to get really, really bad, unless enough members of Congress decide to actually put country first, which I don’t anticipate.

    At some point, someone has to successfully take on the crooks and crazies driving much opinion on the extremist right, unless they can finally discredit themselves. If Alex Jones hasn’t gone far enough to discredit himself yet, what would it take?

  5. Gravatar of vak vak
    26. February 2017 at 11:01


  6. Gravatar of JG JG
    26. February 2017 at 11:16

    Sure trump blathers about winning. So what? Who wants to listen to a loser? Yet Trump nominates a Supreme Court judge who it appears strongly believes in separation of powers, an ultimate process check.

  7. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    26. February 2017 at 12:16

    Impeachment is a political solution and Trump could be impeached for any trumped up reason if members of Congress decided they would benefit politically from it.

    But here’s the rub. The concentration of anti-Trump sentiment is highly concentrated in a few states and cities. So as long as the Republic stands Trump may have the majority of voters against him but the political math still in his favor.

  8. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    26. February 2017 at 13:47

    I agree with you about process. I worry that we have no good response to unconstitutional Presidential behavior, in particular violation of the emoluments clause. I would not object to him being impeached on those grounds.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. February 2017 at 13:52

    Jim, You said:

    “For better or worst the GOP as a party has to figure out to govern. Hopefully they do.”

    Yeah, parties elected with no plan at all, based on a series of lies, often do a great job when in office.

    For instance . . .

    I’m drawing a blank.

  10. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    26. February 2017 at 14:20

    ‘ I worry that we have no good response to unconstitutional Presidential behavior, in particular violation of the emoluments clause’

    Which doesn’t even apply to the President (or any other elected federal office holder). Source: Alexander Hamilton.

    There happens to be an excellent book on what ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ means. It’s title is a clue;


  11. Gravatar of Jim Jim
    26. February 2017 at 14:40

    Me too, but there is always the first.
    I try to be rosy, because gloom diminishes life expectancy and that helps the other side.

  12. Gravatar of D.O. D.O.
    26. February 2017 at 14:44

    Surprisingly, it seems that “high crimes and misdemeanors” do not need to be either crimes or misdemeanors in any ordinary sense. Gross maladministration and inappropriate conduct would suffice. You see, framers of the constitution thought that the public officials should be held to a higher standard than ordinary public. How quaint. Probably, Wikipedia has a good explanation, by I will quote the explication by the Congressional Research Service:

    The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the context of impeachments has an ancient English history, first turning up in
    the impeachment of the Earl of Suffolk in 1388.[…] “High crimes
    and misdemeanors,” however, is an undefined and indefinite phrase,
    which, in England, had comprehended conduct not constituting indictable offenses. Use of the word “other” to link “high crimes
    and misdemeanors” with “treason” and “bribery” is arguably indicative
    of the types and seriousness of conduct encompassed by “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Similarly, the word “high” apparently carried with it a restrictive meaning.

    Debate prior to adoption of the phrase and comments thereafter
    in the ratifying conventions were to the effect that the President
    (all the debate was in terms of the President) should be removable
    by impeachment for commissions or omissions in office which were not criminally cognizable. And in the First Congress’s “removal”
    debate, Madison maintained that the wanton dismissal of meritorious officers would be an act of maladministration which would render the President subject to impeachment. Other comments, especially in the ratifying conventions, tend toward a limitation of the term to criminal, perhaps gross criminal, behavior. The scope of the power has been the subject of continuing debate.

  13. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    26. February 2017 at 15:20


    I’m not sure what the 46% think makes him impeachable already,

    They don’t think that. It’s the structure of the question that leads to those results.


    Impeachment is a political solution and Trump could be impeached for any trumped up reason

    Exactly. No majority in Congress, no impeachment.


    parties elected with no plan at all

    Stop exaggerating so much. “I don’t like their stupid plans at all” seems to be too subjective these days so people try to insist that their opponents got no plan at all, which is of course a lie. From your (subjective) point of view it might be a stupid plan but it’s still a plan.

  14. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    26. February 2017 at 15:22

    Here’s a 1998 video caught by C-SPAN of Ms Coulter talking about her book. It’s about six minutes in where she explains what the historical meaning of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ was.


  15. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    26. February 2017 at 18:27

    Years back, maybe doing the Nixon days, someone pointed out that if a US President did nothing wrong, but decided to lay on the beach in Rio and do no work and be seen with lots of bikini-clad girls and margaritas in hand, that eventually he would get impeached. Even if he had the forms he needed to be signed jetted in and signed.

    The GOP during the Clinton days proved you could impeach a President for being in the opposite party. (Nixon was never impeached btw–he quit first).

    Trump is in the majority party so he will not get impeached.

  16. Gravatar of Don Don
    26. February 2017 at 20:40

    I bet a majority of those favoring impeachment think it means a do-over of the election. The Russia stuff is just a Dems throwing shade. That is what an out-of-power party does. Nothing will come of it. The Dems would never support Impeachment anyway, because he is so much more liberal than Pence. Can you imagine 10 years of a Pence/Cruz administration?

  17. Gravatar of Nabi Nabi
    26. February 2017 at 22:07

    Yes, process is of utmost importance. Impeach him now and all his worshippers will vote for a populist (who will have slogans like “I will finish what President Trump has started”) for the rest of their lives, but let Trump disgrace himself in the office, let him show his dishonesty and break his election promises, and his voters might, just might realize that they were wrong for supporing him

  18. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    26. February 2017 at 23:55

    The poll is fake news. Almost certainly over sampling of democrats.

    Remember the fake polls saying Hillary had a 92% chance of winning?

    54% are not more Trump deranged than you. You’re in the 1%, based on the volume of your Trump posts.

  19. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    27. February 2017 at 02:06


    you are the rare soul that has no understanding of any subject whatsoever. Statistic? Nay. Probability? Nay. A rough understanding of what a poll is and how it may or may not relate to chances of winning an election? Neither. You’re sort of an anti genius. Aping the trumpster’s “fake news” howls won’t make your fake intellect any more credible.

  20. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    27. February 2017 at 07:41

    I actually agree with 70-80 percent of the GOPs agenda. I even agree with 70-80% OF Trumps behavior. But he is also a random noise generator. A further problem is that the 20-30% I disagree with are both bad in themselves (wall building, his absurd hysteria about Mexico, an unworkable trade philosophy,an inability to communicate priorities, having no specified foreign policy, and a personality disorder which causes him to compulsively focus on irrelevant criticism) and in distracting the focus away from policy creation.

    I have no idea how long it will take, but at some point the 70-80% policy will look like it will work out or it will become obvious it is unachievable. His inability to deal with critique makes the latter more probable than it would otherwise.

    Anyone who thinks he is a political genius is waiting for some different guy to show up. I do think the next few months will be critical in determining whether random noise maker wins or loses the day.

  21. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    27. February 2017 at 07:43

    The impeachment Troll was cute

  22. Gravatar of JW JW
    27. February 2017 at 07:47

    Jefferson was the first to try to utilize the impeachment clause on Justice Chase and the debate over that impeachment established a precedent over the “high crimes and misdemeanors” phrase that still pretty much governs the use (or non-use) of impeachment to this day. Basically, the decision of that Congress, which was overwhelmingly supportive of Jefferson, was that some element of criminality had to be present in order for impeachment to be legitimate. That’s why impeachment has proven to be such an unusable tool since then because it usually is very difficult to show criminality in the vast majority of potential cases.

    That said, there has been a more disturbing trend in the last 25 years or so to promote the idea of impeachment in situations for which it almost certainly was not intended. The trend seems to be a move toward looser interpretation of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” phrase which I fear could lead to a more volatile and uncertain political process.

  23. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    27. February 2017 at 10:16

    All impeachment trials are political—-or at least the history of impeachment in practice was strongly correlated with politics.There have been 3 serious impeachment “incidents”.

    Clinton lied under oath to a grand jury in a sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones. Most likely if a Republican were president and the Dems controlled the house, there would have also been an impeachment under the same set of circumstances—even without a lie.Surely obstruction of justice would be found. If the Dems controlled the House Clinton would not have been impeached. The Senate did not convict.

    So that was a traditional crime for which he was impeached–lying under oath (also obstruction of justice).

    Nixon was hated by the left. Oddly, his policies were government centric and he won by a massive landslide just 2 years before he resigned. But he was “caught” lying in a cover up—probably the dumbest thing a President has ever done considering the pettiness of the crime. He was de Facto convicted as the GOP senators told him they would not support him. Nixon lied in his cover up but not under oath. So he did not commit a traditional crime or misdemeanor. Nor was he impeached—so we learn something about HC&M from Nixon. There is no doubt if he were a Democrat this would not have happened.

    A. Johnson was perceived as dovish on the South, post Civil War. Congress passed this partisan law taking away his power to fire anyone who in his administration had required Senate approval to be in that position. They wanted to protect Lincoln’s more “hawkish” appointees. He fired one of Lincoln’s appointees anyway (and appointed Grant—due to his popularity—thinking that would diffuse the issue). But the Republicans used the law (designed specifically for Johnson) to impeach him. If a “hawkish” guy replaced Lincoln the first law would never have passed, to begin with. He was not convicted by Senate. No traditional crime here.

    I think any of these three examples could provide a roadmap to impeach Trump depending on circumstances (the first would require he commit a crime). But the Dems would need to take control of the House in 2018. If they do, there is virtual certainty they will find something to impeach him on. However, unless they can figure out how to convict in the Senate using a reconciliation procedure 🙂 he will not be convicted. Of course, this assumes he is not working for Putin or something as bizarre.

  24. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    27. February 2017 at 10:38

    Sumner shows his ignorance by saying: “But in the long run our society will be better off if we don’t follow our Latin American cousins, and instead adhere to clearly spelled out democratic procedures.” – so Sumner ignores that impeaching a president is spelled out in our “democratic procedures”, namely, the US Constitution.

    Then Sumner in his PS asks what is impeachment (showing he himself doesn’t know).

    But Sumner is right in asking for tolerance. It is said the Roman Republic fell, and the tyrannous Roman Empire arose, when politicians began to ignore the spirit of the law and instead insisted on the letter of the law (it may have started with the Gracchi brothers). That was the beginning of the end. As a libertarian however, Sumner should be arguing for the right of cities to become sovereign city-states, like in ancient Greek times. Who needs Detroit? Let them become their own separate country, ditto for all the other second, third and nth tier cities. And let them enter into free-trade pacts or witness an exodus of people.

  25. Gravatar of Cooper Cooper
    27. February 2017 at 11:14

    Impeachment is the new Obama-Is-A-Muslim.

    Very few people genuinely, deeply believe that Trump should be thrown out of office through impeachment. They just want to signal their deep dislike of him.

  26. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. February 2017 at 13:24

    Jim, Which is “the other side”?

    Thanks D.O. Very helpful.

    You said:

    “You see, framers of the constitution thought that the public officials should be held to a higher standard than ordinary public. How quaint.”

    What’s funny about this is that the Presidency actually has the lowest standards of any professional job in America. I would have been fired for what Trump said about grabbing women. Heck, I would have been fired for what Clinton did with Lewinsky. (BTW, I’m not saying I SHOULD have been fired, just that I would have been.)

    Christian, Where’s the GOP plan to replace Obamacare? Where’s Trump’s budget plan? His tax plan?

    Nabi, Exactly!

    JW, Thanks for that info.

    Michael, Keep in mind that Nixon was involved in quite a few scandals, not just Watergate. It’s not at all clear that he committed no criminal acts. I would think “obstruction of justice” at a minimum.

  27. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    27. February 2017 at 14:35

    Perhaps you guys will enjoy this gem from Trump today:


  28. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    27. February 2017 at 16:34


    You are salty because I habitually show that what you believe is untenable.

    You just want the fake news to be true. That’s why it exists by the way. There are morally unscrupulous journalists and gullible readers such as yourself. You get testy when this is pointed out to you time anytime again because it is embarrassing for you.

  29. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    27. February 2017 at 17:45

    An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House votes for as an impeachable offense. There is no indication anyone can overturn this decision. Conviction requires 2/3 of the Senate, again there is no indication anyone can overturn their decision.

  30. Gravatar of morgan warstler morgan warstler
    28. February 2017 at 07:26

    PPP is junk.

    There isn’t even a question of impeachment on table. GOP is now fighting like Spartans in lockstep. Issa retreated and quick.l WHY? Because they have SEEN THE POLLS. And THEY HAVE SEEN THE NSA AND FBI CALL TRANSCRIPTS.

    What’s so frigging amazing is how high Trump is scoring in Likely Voters in Trump Belt.

    Seriously Scott, at this point, the media and the academy have been rendered DEFANGED. They can’t convince the hegemony in 37 of 50 states of ANYTHING.

    37 of 50 states. Nothing you say, nothing DC says, nothing said by anyone defending Obama MATTERS.

    What do you do when 37 of 50 states demand to see you immiserated as their measure for good Economic policy?

    I’d argue you stop thinking your readers are “asking” you to do anything….

    “Commenters keep telling me that I have to stop being such an elitist, and listen to the gripes of the average American. ”

    There’s a really funny meme now out there that plays off Silence of the Lambs

    “it puts the lotion on its skin, or it gets the Trump again.”

    I think this is a really good way understanding your predicament Scott. Trump is a weapon America pulled ON YOU. He’s a Golgothan unleashed on DC, bureacracy, media, and academy by America. How angry are Americans that they have thrown you in hole and think of you of as “it” and are only going to be happy when you DO WHAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO.

    Your YELLING HE IS TERRIBLE is like watching their stock portfolio go up.

    Now I don’t mean you personally Scott, bc once you see US immigration policy be US as Country Club for Earthlings – means we let in more immigrants and force Mexico to adopt first world property rights and admit trump has generated 3T in new market value etc – you’ll realize the lotion isn’t that bad. Bc long term for the avg Bangladeshi – the best thing is to brain drain his country, and have US outperform everyone so fast ad furious that they break (think creative destruction) to become like Texas faster. You’ll REALIZE the fastest and bestest and frankly onlyest way to be a globalist is to make al countries become states in in planet US and compete by seeing who can be most like Texas.

    Anyway, my advice would be at least STOP YELLING, bc 37 of 50 states can’t have this many orgasms and not risk a heart attack.

  31. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    28. February 2017 at 12:04

    I’d say profiting off his office, and in particular via payments to his businesses by foreign nationals/leaders, puts him in the realm of potential “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Or are you thinking emolument clause violations don’t qualify?

    And who knows what we would find if we actually investigated the Russian connections.

  32. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    28. February 2017 at 16:40

    Sumner, your opinion of this Trump leak?


    Adam, can we please not have moronic assertions here?

    “Where’s the GOP plan to replace Obamacare? Where’s Trump’s budget plan? His tax plan?”

    -Working on it.

  33. Gravatar of Jose Jose
    28. February 2017 at 19:47

    If by “Latin America cousins” you mean Brazilian people, you really should be better informed about the process that took Dilma Roussef from office. There were clear facts that proved she broke fiscal law. In fact, we were so focused on following a process that the entire thing ended up taking much longer than needed, hurting the economy and ultimately all citizens.

  34. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. March 2017 at 06:28

    Morgan, Trump’s poll numbers are lousy.

    Scott, I guess “nobody” means Trump.

    Adam, They’ll need to find very clear evidence of a bribe, not just indirect effects on his business empire.

    Harding, It shows I’m right about Trump being an idiot.

    Jose, No, I was thinking about how Latin American countries frequently ignore constitutional constraints, like a maximum of 2 terms in office.

  35. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    1. March 2017 at 08:31

    I think his statements about the judiciary and the media alone are enough to justify an official warning from Congress or the Supreme Court, with threat of impeachment.

  36. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    1. March 2017 at 10:30

    The American government’s responsibility is to serve the interests of the American people. Foreign nationals may or may not be wonderful people, but they have their own political representatives and it isn’t the job of the American government or the government funded university system to represent them.

    If Sumner cares about the struggles of the average Bangladeshi more than the average American, then the honest course of action would be to join Bangladeshi government and universities to advocate accordingly.

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. March 2017 at 12:13

    Saturos, I think impeachment is a big mistake, unless it’s overwhelming clear to both parties that the President must go. We should rely on elections. Thailand tried to get rid of a bad leader, and that made the Thai voters even more determined to elect him. Look where Thailand ended up.

    Massimo, I’m not a member of the US government, I thought you knew that. I am free to “care about” whatever I wish to care about.

Leave a Reply