Here's a scary look at the future for Democrats and, well, the country.
As the Democratic-controlled House moves toward impeaching President Donald Trump - a step it was compelled to take by Trump's blatant abuse of power - it could well be putting in motion events that will leave the president scarred but also empowered in dangerous ways.
The House Judiciary Committee is in all likelihood going to forward articles of impeachment to the full House, which will debate them, reject the Republicans' fanciful defense of Trump's efforts to compel a foreign leader to target a political rival, and then vote to impeach, most likely on a party-line vote.
That will move the action to the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will most probably go through the motions of holding a trial, but ultimately leave Trump in office. The facts, and Trump's transgressions, don't matter. For the Republicans, this is about party, not defending governmental institutions and the separation of powers (a mind-boggling turn of events for the party of political conservatives).
This impeachment scenario is getting underway at a moment when the field of candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump's reelection remains large and fluid before the first nominating contest in Iowa.
Yes, the dust cloud will settle, and by mid-March the field will be narrowed considerably, but the longer the nomination fight plays out, the less time the eventual nominee will have to persuade the relative handful of voters in key areas of toss-up states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona that he or she has a better plan for America.
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At this point, the race is Trump's to lose, and the pugnacious attack-dog persona that got him elected could well do the trick again.
So where would that leave the nation?
Come Jan. 20, 2021, we could see the second inauguration of a man who survived the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, despite evidence that he sought to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey and trying to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
By then he also will have survived impeachment, despite clear evidence that he sought to use the power of his office - and congressionally approved taxpayer-funded aid to Ukraine - to compel a foreign country to do political dirty work for him, and then stiff-armed Congress by refusing to honor subpoenas.
And by reelecting Trump, the people will have given their assent to serial abuse of power by a man who may be the least qualified person to have ever served as president of the United States.
On that inauguration day, as Trump places his hand again on a Bible and takes an oath he has already violated, what will the nation have left to rein in that runaway horse?
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