History Shows that Impeachment Often Fails — But We Should Do It Anyway

Presidential accountability and framers of the Constitution demand it

The delegates at the Constitutional Convention cared a great deal about holding the president accountable, but they weren’t initially sure how to do so. George Washington, the future first president, was in the room and that conversation was pretty awkward. At Benjamin Franklin’s insistence, they included the impeachment provisions in the Constitution.

As a result, the Constitution emphasized the importance of presidential accountability from day one. But for many reasons — political calculations, behind-the-scenes dealings, and death — Congress has rarely held presidents accountable through impeachment. To be sure, the threat of impeachment has often weighed on past presidents, but impeachment has never been effectively used to oust a president, let alone bar one from holding office in the future.

Read the full history of impeachment and why we should still try to enforce presidential accountability here:

The Bulwark: What Good Is Impeachment Anyway?

Historian. Writer. Speaker. Author of THE CABINET.

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