A recent blog post by William A. Galston for the Brookings Institution includes a graph of public reaction to the Nixon impeachment hearings in 1973 and 1974, and it’s a fascinating image that holds a lesson or two for Americans pondering the current process against President Trump.
It took a short time for Nixon to drastically lose public approval, but a longer period for the public to decide that his offenses were grave enough to warrant impeachment. But that curve moved steadily upward, from 19 percent to 57 percent.
The current House hearings have not even been opened to the public yet. It is far too soon to prognosticate how public opinion may change, and which Republican members of the House or Senate may support impeachment if, and as, public opinion does change.
Calling for an outcome — for example, censure, as with a Nov. 4 letter to the editor (“By all means, House should proceed — toward censure”) — at this stage in the process is premature and discounts the value of democratic popular deliberations.
Margaret M. Gullette