Beware, Democrats. Impeaching Trump will backfireRoundup
tags: Italy, impeachment, Trump, 2020 Election
Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti is associate professor of political science at the City University of New York, City College.
Nor is there any evidence that when his misdeeds become public that they will have a significant effect on his popular support. On the contrary, they may even serve to reinforce his populist appeal, by confirming the narrativethat the country’s establishment and “deep state” are conspiring to prevent him from fulfilling his political mandate.
A cautionary example may be offered here by a figure that anticipated many aspects of Trump’s political style. During the time of Silvio Berlusconi’s premiership in Italy, the country’s left-leaning Democratic party virtually converted itself into a “party of impeachment”. Although one of the many proceedings initiated against him did result in condemnation, ultimately forcing him out of office, the fact that Berlusconi was not defeated politically at the polls, but only juridically in court, meant that the underlying reasons for his electoral popularity were never dented. Thus, even after Berlusconi’s ouster, the country has seen a succession of populist leaders replicating important features of his political style and substance – from the comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo up to the far-right nationalist Matteo Salvini.
This shows that there is a risk of legal proceedings distracting from the underlying political issues. If that happens, the US may at most get rid of Trump himself, but wouldn’t necessarily overcome the broader problem of Trump-ism as a political phenomenon. To be sure, that shouldn’t matter from the point of view of the integrity of the institutional system, but it is a problem for anyone who wants to replace Trump’s substantive policy agenda with something better.