Donald Trump in suit with swirly gold around his head

Thousands, possibly millions, of Americans have been calling for President Trump’s impeachment. They want to save the world by making him lose his job. Sadly, it is just a knee-jerk reaction that will do nothing to protect immigrants, end war, or rescue funding for essential programs. The country’s violent swing to the right does not live and die with Trump. Removing him from office will only result in a different scumbag becoming the official spokesperson for evil.

Before I can explain why Trump’s impeachment is such a counterproductive idea, everyone must understand how the system works and what results it yields. An impeachment does not guarantee the removal of an official from office. The House of Representatives must vote on whether or not to bring charges against (impeach) an official, in this case the president. If the House votes for impeachment, the president is put on trial in the Senate. A two-thirds vote is then required to find the president guilty and remove him from office. An initial vote in the House is a longshot given the Republicans’ stranglehold on that legislative body. Even if a vote was permitted, there is little reason to believe it would be in favor of impeachment. But let’s say enough conservatives break from their beloved party and give the Democrats the numbers they need to force a trial in the Senate. At that point, a guilty verdict would be very unlikely.

Every one of those stages is an opportunity for Democrats to look inept and for Republicans to be smug while playing the political victims. After losing a presidential election to someone like Donald Trump, the last thing the Democrats need is to be seen attempting to take him down and failing. It would weaken them for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. To exacerbate that weakness, the Republicans would come out looking stronger than ever. They could rally voters and financial contributions on the back of being victims of political games. Very little strengthens support for a candidate or party as much as them being attacked by the other side. Then there’s the arrogance the Republicans could campaign on. They could stand in front of fervent crowds and scream “they tried to take us down, but we’re still standing. They’ll never destroy our conservative values!” I can picture a 2020 flyer with an image of Trump stepping out of a limousine with the words “Vote for Teflon Don.” So even an attempt to impeach Donald Trump is a very risky move.

But let’s now look at the implications of Trump’s actual removal from office. America does not have special elections for president. The presidency does not change hands between political parties in a non-election year. When a president dies, resigns, or is voted out by the Senate, the vice-president takes over. That would make things a whole lot worse. Mike Pence described himself as “a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” Everyone should be terrified at the prospect of a Christian theocracy. Having a president who makes all his decisions based on the Bible will be disastrous for public education, college professors, women’s health, scientists, the LGBT community, followers of other religions, and nonbelievers. Trump is clearly not religious so making Pence president will be a dinosaur-sized step backward.

What is also concerning about the current vice-president is that he is a good politician. Nobody becomes a governor and vice-president without being talented in the profession of politics. Right now, we have the small saving grace of Trump’s and his henchmen’s ineptitude as primarily evidenced by the debacle over the American Health Care Act. A Pence administration will want the same awful things as a Trump administration, but it will be more likely to make them a reality. He will be able to coerce his fellow Republicans into voting his way and will find it easy, like Paul Ryan, to walk the fine line between the more moderate members of his party and the far-right über bigots. As things stand, Trump will be easy to beat in the next general election. Mike Pence will be a much tougher customer.

Also do not forget that Ryan and Mitch McConnell will run the Congress no matter who is in the White House. They will continue to rip funds from social programs and waste them on military supplies. They will always vote for individuals who have no place at the Supreme Court or in the cabinet. They will still enjoy quality healthcare as their fellow human beings go without. War will not end because both the Republicans and Democrats love it. We can impeach president after president but it won’t be enough.

It may seem like I’m trying to tell people to take a deep breath and wait for 2020 to roll around. Not at all. The people need to take to the streets to let their anger be known. They should vote in every single election for the most open-minded, compassionate, energetic, and progressive candidates. They can volunteer with nonprofits that provide the services the Trump administration wants to take away. I am only asking that everyone think long-term. Getting rid of Donald Trump now will feel great for a few minutes, but it’ll be a loose band aid over a gaping wound. Leave him in office and take the White House from him after his first term. We can all stick out the next four years with Trump, but America can’t survive eight or more years with more savvy creeps at the helm.