Claiming the 2021 Republicans are the "party of Lincoln" is like claiming the New York Yankees are the "team of Babe Ruth." It's a quaint idea with an undeniable, historic connection; and the claim may provide at differing times credibility, nostalgia, even t-shirt sales; but anything beyond that is dross. Today's Republican party which comprises (as Trump said about the Charlottesville protest) good people on both sides, rescinded any affiliation with Lincoln when it opted to be the party of diminished voting rights and the abandonment of the middle class, then cemented the divorce when it gave way entirely to white grievance, white nationalism, and a seemingly Godless evangelicalism in 2016, throwing in with a dissolute leader and marching in lockstep with him for four years.
Yesterday's impeachment hearing and the videos shown therein showcased the "new" Republicans—the party of the unregulated militia, of violence against the police, of a concerted attempt to destroy the democracy. The new Republicans, without any bow to irony, insist on a strict interpretation of the laws if impeachment, but don't mind contracting for a band of thugs and criminals to eliminate by any means possible their political opponents.
And now they want to move on, claiming that the impeachment hearings are another Democratic attempt to exact revenge on Donald Trump.
Spoiler alert: the Democrats already did that when they convinced seven million more voters to vote for Joe Biden. There is no need for revenge here, and no reason to call it that, any more than there is for calling a murder trial a vendetta. It's the simple execution of justice—if a person is accused of a crime, the person stands trial.
Some Republicans grudgingly admit that the insurrection of January 6 was indeed bad–not exactly a bold admission since five people died, hundreds were injured, hundreds more had their lives threatened, and an untold number will suffer the trauma forever. Yes, Republican stalwarts, bad.
But they want to move on. Of course every felon wasting away in a prison cell would like to move on, but, alas, there's a price. There's always a price. We moved on from the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it took four years and 407,000 American lives. More than that. we don’t just move on without at least trying to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. For most Americans on 9/11, our first thought was not “let’s move on and build more towers.” Instead, it was let’s get the SOBs who did this and make sure they never do it again. Never forget, we said. And we didn't.
Our approach to the Capitol assault should be the same—to get the SOBs who did it and do all we can to prevent a repeat. The impeachment trial is our chance to do that.
Along those lines, it took a decade to find Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. He was masterful at hiding, evading, and disappearing. Our home-grown traitor Donald Trump isn’t hiding anywhere—he’s playing a little golf in Florida. We won't need a Navy SEAL team to find him, as delicious as that thought might be. He's right there, ready for prosecution.
In yesterday's impeachment hearing we were bombarded with videos from January 6, videos that were disturbing, depressing, and infuriating. We saw insurgents, free of all limitations and convention, openly hunting other human beings in order to kill them; and we saw outnumbered law enforcement officers holding them off against all odds. We saw the callous inhumanity and monstrousness of the Proud Boys whose own disorganization and lack of discipline thwarted their most diabolical plans. And we saw the inhumanity and monstrousness of the Trump family, cheering on the demise of their own nation.
And yet the Republicans, willing to punish nobody, are ready to move on—to let bygones be bygones. Either they don't realize or they don't care that the next militia may be smarter than the Proud Boys, and the next autocrat may be smarter than Trump. Neither bar will be hard to eclipse.
The Republican party sits at the crossroads, and though there is always some doubt in a court case, most of us know how this will end—with an informal but binding admission that the GOP is the party of Trump.
In the end, there may be some small consolation in the fact that a simple majority will vote for conviction, and that fact may constitute a talking point in years to come—that along with the fact that more than half of the American people want Trump convicted. But as difficult as we have found it these past twenty years to watch the towers fall, the recorded events of the Capitol will trouble us more, for we immediately knew why, and how, and even who, and moved on.