My whole life I have been a pro-life, pro-religious liberty conservative. I believe capitalism makes the world better. If I could snort Cocaine Mitch's judicial confirmations, I would. And I believe that conservatives should support impeaching Donald Trump.
I don't say that lightly. Many were itching for President Trump to be impeached from day one. I was not. I hoped he would deliver on many of his promises, abandon the ill-advised ones, and rise to the office of the Presidency. I believe he has selected, with few exceptions, outstanding judicial nominees that strengthen the rule of law -- an issue that is important to me (and a comment guaranteed to earn me hate mail from many Democrats).
But we cannot put on blinders and look at only the good. Even Joffrey Baratheon knew how to throw a good party. Or, a historical example, the Roman Emperor Diocletian was a brilliant administrator but also murdered Christians and razed churches. The good doesn't excuse the bad.
Trump's failings and abuse of power make him fit for impeachment.
Ambassador Sondland's testimony today and the summary of President Trump's call with Volodymyr Zelensky show that President Trump withheld security funding to Ukraine so Ukraine would investigate the Bidens. Think about that: The President used hundreds of millions of dollars of US taxpayer money as a bargaining chip to make a foreign country investigate his political opponents. That is a textbook play from dictators who are willing to take from citizens in order to keep for themselves. All Americans, including conservatives, should not tolerate that kind of abuse of the Presidency.
The facts are undeniable. So instead, many Republicans pivot with a chorus of irrelevant "buts!"
"But the Bidens were corrupt!" I have no clue if this is true, but it doesn't matter. Americans don't outsource their investigations of political rivals to foreign countries, especially not countries that themselves suffer from corruption and especially not by withholding money meant to make the United States more secure.
"But the President has authority over foreign policy!" You're right, but the President is also accountable for how he uses that authority. And when he begins using it to target Americans to entrench his own power, the Constitution says Congress should impeach him. If Donald Trump made the "foreign policy call" to turn over the White House to Vladimir Putin, do you really think we couldn't stop him? Impeachment is in the Constitution to get rid of a president when, like now, he abuses his authority to benefit himself.
"But they gave the money to Ukraine eventually!" Again, that doesn't matter. The impeachment question is about whether President Trump acts in a way that violates the trust that the American public has put in him. If your friend just tries to kill you, but stops once someone calls the cops, you don't just go back to normal.
"But the Democrats are just trying to overturn the 2016 election!" It is absolutely true that many Democrats would have voted to impeach Donald Trump if he had sneezed during the oath of office. But stupidity doesn't excuse stupidity. We're asking whether the President should be impeached, not whether Democrats are consistent.
"But what about my judges (or abortion or religious liberty or the 2nd Amendment)?" First, realistically, we're talking about Mike Pence becoming President. He will be as good as Trump was on all those issues.
Second, selling out American national security threatens each one of those issues far more than swapping out Trump for Pence. We Americans often take for granted what our security and freedom mean. In recorded history, few have had it as good as we do for as long as we have. We haven't been perfect, and we still have room to improve. But a President willing to sell out Americans for his own power threatens what so many Americans have built and fought and bled and died for.
"But I hate the Democrats!" Even if you do, realize that targeting Americans and selling out national security don't end with them. Don't doubt for a second that if Ted Cruz had tried to primary Trump, then Trump would have abused his power in the same way. Don't support impeachment because you like the Democrats. Support impeachment because you fear that Donald Trump's abuse of the presidency threatens your freedom.
So why do I feel the need to say any of this? It is because our political discourse has gotten so bad that we conservatives are suspicious of anything that the media or Democrats tell us. But the facts are the facts. And if we conservatives care about the Constitution as much as we say we do, we need to stand up to defend it. That means, for some of us, changing our minds and supporting impeachment.
Bryan Gividen is a lawyer in Dallas, Texas, and a lifelong conservative