Americans celebrating yesterday’s impeachment vote should take a long hard look at themselves. To live in a tumultuous time is exciting and even restorative, but to live in a country in turmoil is neither.
Worse, there won’t be a winner or a loser. An acquittal will never remove the stigma of impeachment, and a conviction would underscore the frailty of our republic—that we would elect such an obviously unqualified leader based primarily on our own prejudices...and then have half of our elected officials support him.
It won’t be the OJ trial with surprises and twists. And worst of all , the heroes and villains have already come and gone. I speak of heroes like the anonymous whistleblower who accepted his or her patriotic duties and reported an event injurious to the country. The Senate may attempt to call that person as a witness, but if the president continues to forbid his own people from testifying, it’s unlikely any case can be made for questioning the whistleblower. And there are the other heroes—Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council; Bill Taylor, the US's chief envoy in Ukraine; Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the EU; Laura Cooper, a deputy secretary at the Defense Department; and Marie Yovanovitch, the US's former ambassador to Ukraine—they have done their duty, incurred the foul wrath of the president, and moved on.
And the villains have had their moment in the spotlight also: Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) decided that Trump was denied even the feeble due process that Pontius Pilate granted Jesus before his crucifixion. (The president will also be denied the public crucifixion, the nails, and all that.) Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) offered his own comparison, saying Trump’s impeachment was more like Pearl Harbor. (Except, Mike, for the 2403 American combatants killed that day.) And Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) held a moment of silence for 63 million Americans who voted for President Trump. (He apparently forgot the 66 million who voted against him.)
Now the trial in the Senate looms, and yes, the president’s acquittal may be a foregone conclusion, but the trial itself is not. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has already polluted the proceedings. Despite the fact that each senator must take a solemn oath that all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment will be met with impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws. But McConnell has already stated publicly that he will follow the lead of the president, and his open admission that he cannot be a fair juror excludes him from the trial. Either that or it sets him up for a charge of perjury, for which he may be tried.
Further complicating the matter is this: the House must actually deliver the impeachment articles to the Senate, but if there are foregone conclusions already stated by prospective “jurors,” then the House can delay or postpone this responsibility until an agreement is reached that the oath will be honored,
A lot lies ahead, none of it exciting, or pretty, or conclusive. An ugly, petty, and divisive presidency has evolved into an equally unpleasant spectacle. But as Americans we have voting responsibilities, and the leaders we elect have the obligation to execute theirs. If the Constitution is worth defending, then these kinds of onerous events are necessary. But if Trumpism carries the day and the Constitution embodies mere suggestions that autocrats can circumvent at will, then we the voters will have spoken, and future generations will live with our choices.