Alan Zendell, February 1, 2020
As the smoke clears and reality sets in, we should be clear about a number of things. Before we go off the deep end about the near-certainty that Donald Trump will be acquitted by the Senate next Wednesday, we should remember that this is the outcome everyone expected from the first moment the word “impeachment” was uttered. We may have underestimated Mitch McConnell’s ability to keep his caucus in line to the extent that it had the chutzpah to exclude witness testimony and documentation, but we always knew the Senate trial would be a sham.
Most appalling was hearing every member of that caucus swear an oath of impartiality when its leaders, people like McConnell and Lindsey Graham had repeatedly told Fox News that they wouldn’t even pretend to be objective. For those of us who watched the revolting process evolve each day, seeing them all sit like good choir boys and girls as the Senate Chaplain prayed that whichever God they subscribed to would imbue them with the need to faithfully execute their responsibility was almost enough to make us cancel our cable contracts.
As jurors, Senators have the right to vote for or against acquittal as they see fit. That’s especially true of those who insisted from the start that even if he was proven guilty, Trump’s actions were not impeachable. Their issue was never getting to the truth of the matter, because to them it was irrelevant. Some, like Florida’s Marco Rubio, thought Trump deserved to be impeached, but that removing him would not be in the interest of the nation with an election nine months away. As much as I hate the idea of our immoral, self-serving president continuing in office for a single day, Rubio is right. So were all of us who cringed and urged restraint when freshman Democrats in the House screamed impeachment the day they were sworn in.
There’s no mystery here. Republican Senators had to choose between doing what they knew was right and sucking up to an out-of-control demagogue who vowed to destroy them if they were disloyal. Some of them are craven and cowardly, pandering to Trump’s base much the way he does, but it’s not entirely their fault. This was entirely predictable. Nancy Pelosi knew it, and she held out as long as she could until the whistle blower’s complaint was made public. If this was a Hollywood movie, the whistle blower would turn out to be a Trump plant who knew his actions would trigger the process we’ve been witnessing since then.
As many have said from the start, it’s up to us now. It was always up to us. We put Trump in office. We created this mess. Too many of us stayed home in 2016 thinking our vote didn’t matter or he couldn’t win or that our country could never support someone like him. We had no idea that one-third of us think the way he does. He brought out the worst in us, and now it’s our problem to fix.
If you’re a woman, an immigrant, or a person of color, why would you not walk through a raging blizzard to vote against him? I am none of those, but I believe in the rule of law and that our founders intended for all Americans to be able to compete on a level playing field, to house our families, provide decent nutrition and health care, and send our children to school knowing they won’t be shot there. That’s why I am terrified of what four more years of Trumpism will do. Nothing short of a coma will prevent me from voting this year.
The Senate acted shamefully. Knowing the fix was in from the start, the only reason for conducting the trial as they have was to prevent Americans from learning the truth. I get why they did it – if they succeeded it would be their best shot at retaining power next year. If they got it over quickly, American voters would forget by November – but they’re wrong. We’re going to learn all the sordid details. Whether out of self-interest or a sense of duty, people who know the truth will tell us. In 2020, no one will be able to claim they didn’t know what was at stake or fantasize that Trump would be any less despicable as president than he was as a private citizen.
We cannot afford the luxury of short memories or laziness this year. We’ve defended our way of life against wars and economic crises. We can’t let ennui and indolence undermine it now. No excuses this year. The Senate has thrown responsibility for our future back into our laps where it belongs.