For libertarians, the obvious question arises: Would the impeachment of Donald Trump lead to the free society for which we libertarians yearn?
There is a simple answer to that question: The answer is No. Even if Trump is impeached in the U.S. House of Representatives, convicted in the U.S. Senate, and removed from office, we will not be any closer to a free society than we are now.
So, why are some libertarians getting all hyped up over Trump’s possible impeachment? Why get hyped up about something that isn’t going to lead to the genuinely free society?
One libertarian-leaning conservative commentator asked, “What could be more libertarian than holding public officials accountable?”
Well, let us count the ways: Abolish or end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, public schooling, drug laws, economic regulations, the minimum wage, occupational licensure, public housing, tariffs, trade wars, the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA, foreign military bases, foreign wars, foreign interventions, foreign aid, coups, alliances with dictatorial regimes, torture, assassination, the war on terrorism, Homeland Security, and the Departments of Education, Labor, Agriculture, and a multitude of other welfare-warfare programs, laws, departments, and agencies.
Even though both conservatives and liberals (i.e., progressives) favor all of those things, the fact is that their abolition would be much more libertarian than holding public officials accountable. A free society necessarily depends on the abolition of infringements on liberty, not on holding public officials accountable for their misconduct or misdeeds.
Holding public officials accountable is extremely important to conservatives because of the thousands of welfare-warfare state and regulatory departments and agencies that they favor. Given that these socialist, interventionist, and imperialist departments and agencies are inherently ridden with inefficiencies and fraud, the conservative quest has always been to get “better people” into public office, with the aim of bringing an end to “waste, fraud, and abuse” in their welfare-warfare state programs. When conservatives succeed in getting a “free-enterprise”-oriented conservative in charge of a regulatory or welfare-warfare state department or agency, they are ecstatic because , in their minds, that’s what “freedom” is all about — bringing “choice” and “competition” to a welfare-warfare state department or regulatory commission.
But the aim of libertarians is not to end “waste, fraud, and abuse” in welfare-warfare state or regulatory departments and agencies but instead to abolish such departments and agencies, which means ending the jobs of running such organizations. No jobs obviously means no need to hold anyone accountable for the job he or she is doing.
Another factor that libertarians should consider before getting too hyped up over Trump’s impeachment is the fact that the impeachment would be for the federal crime of “obstruction of justice,” a nebulous crime that has long enabled federal officials to target anyone they don’t like. I highly recommend a book entitled Three Felonies a Day by Harvey Silverglate, a renowned criminal-defense lawyer. In his book Silverglate points out that on average Americans commit three federal felonies a day. That’s because of the countless vague federal laws that have been enacted over the decades. The laws are so nebulous, vague, and numerous that there is no way for anyone to know when he is committed a felony. But their advantage to the government is that federal officials can go after anyone they want whenever they want. As the Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Cravatz wrote in a favorable review of Silverglate’s book, “Prosecutors identify defendants to go after instead of finding a law that was broken and figuring out who did it. Expect more such prosecutions as Washington adds regulations.”
In fact, Democrats shouldn’t forget that President Bill Clinton was being charged with “obstruction of justice” with respect to the Monica Lewinsky affair. As Washington Post reporters Ruth Marcus and Michael Grunwald wrote at the time in 1998, “But proving criminal obstruction hinges on nuance, context and — in Clinton’s case — details that Lewinsky presumably provided to the grand jury yesterday but that are not yet publicly known…. ‘It’s a delicate dance,” said Boston criminal lawyer Harvey Silverglate. ‘The line between innocent activity and obstruction of justice basically boils down to corrupt intent. But it’s not always easy to prove corrupt intent.’”
As I pointed out in my article “Impeach Trump But Only for the Right Reason,” the federal crime of “obstruction of justice” is the federal government’s counterpart to crime of “disorderly conduct” that local governments use to target people they don’t like. Both crimes have no objective definition and are based on subjective interpretations.
As I also pointed out in that article though, there are other things that Trump should be impeached for, such as waging illegal wars in which he is wrongfully killing people. If the wrongful killing of human beings in an illegal war is not a “high crime” that merits impeachment, I don’t know what is. It boggles my mind that Democrats want to impeach Trump for the nebulous crime of “obstructing justice” but oppose his impeachment for wrongfully killing people in an illegal war. No doubt that’s because they consider such killings and illegal wars as no big deal.
There is another factor to consider, one that Democrats refuse to consider: the possibility that the deep state was targeting Trump for electoral defeat and then later, after he won, for a regime-change ouster. That’s why Attorney General Barr has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate that aspect of the controversy. If it turns out that there is substantial evidence to support that allegation, would it really be proper to impeach Trump for pushing back against political misconduct on the part of the deep state?
One thing is for sure: If Trump is impeached, he will set Rudolf Guliani aside and hire the best team of criminal-defense lawyers in the country. If pro-impeachment advocates think that the impeachment trial will be a nice, polite, one-sided affair in which they simply introduce into evidence Robert Mueller’s report, they are hopelessly naïve. Trump’s lawyers will subpoena every deep state actor involved in the controversy with the aim of establishing that all this was a deep state effort to help Hillary Clinton win the election and then to oust Trump from office before the 2020 election. That might be one reason that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is showing some reluctance to rush headlong to an impeachment vote.
There is one possible reason why some conservatives and maybe even some libertarians would view Trump’s impeachment as a victory for freedom. In its 2016 report ranking the nation’s governors for tax and fiscal responsibility, the Cato Institute gave Vice President Mike Pence an “A” rating. Therefore, it would stand to reason that a conservative or possibly even a libertarian might feel that replacing Trump with Pence would advance freedom in America.
They are wrong. Pence is every bit as much a Republican statist as Trump. They both believe in the welfare-warfare-state way of life and, in fact, Pence might be an even more fervent believer in America’s forever wars than Trump. At recent commencement exercises at West Point, Pence essentially told the West Pointers that they had better be prepared for waging endless war. As James Madison pointed out, of all the enemies to liberty, war is the biggest.
There are no short cuts to a free society. What we libertarians need to do is keep our focus on the goal line — freedom, not impeachment — which means continuing to stand fast for libertarian principles.