Speaking quickly and with more than a little anger in his voice, Butler went on:
I am concerned about the pattern of presidential abuse of power. . . . The manipulations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and indeed the existence of the White House plumbers are frightening in their implications for the future of America.
In all, seven Republicans and three southern Democrats voted for at least one article of impeachment, providing a crushing bipartisan and national defeat for the president and vindication for the manner in which the inquiry was conducted.
Yes, I know: What use is this history? Our current politics are so divided — Democrats will never be as fair and deliberate as Rodino and Republicans will never be as open-minded as Butler and Froelich. But if the Democratic leaders of the House who are considering how to proceed with regard to President Trump do not act in an even-handed way, they will surely fail at uniting the country, and could be confronted by principled members of both parties who will condemn them for a rush to judgement.
I don’t know what the correct outcome is on President Trump. But whatever the outcome, there is one other lesson of the Nixon impeachment, and this one is for Republicans. Even though their standard bearer resigned in disgrace in 1974, Republicans regained the presidency only six years later with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. I know, Reagan was special and President Carter uniquely vulnerable, but the Republican brand was stronger in 1980 because Republicans faced up to the president’s misconduct in 1974.
Robert Doar is the Morgridge Scholar and president of the American Enterprise Institute.
This article originally appeared at the American Enterprise Institute's AEIdeas blog.