I write on Saturday, December 14. Some weeks ago I said I’d comment on the Impeachment of Donald Trump.
Thursday night I watched much of the rhetoric in Judiciary; overnight, a rare nightmare visited in my sleep – one that I’ll remember: an ominous very dark storm cloud rapidly approaching a crowd, one of whom was me. We were all trying to escape.
Then I woke up.
My position on the Impeachment of President Trump: Three of the four presidential impeachments have been proposed in the past 45 years: Nixon (1974), Clinton (1998), Trump (2019). The fourth – Andrew Johnson, 1867 – was the only other presidential impeachment proposed in the nations first 200 years.
Donald Trump deserves impeachment. Most likely the Senate will acquit, if the House votes to impeach…we won’t know any of this for certain for some time. This is a political matter, and politics is people. Nonetheless, to me, what is important about this impeachment, regardless of outcome, is that there will be a formal historical record for posterity, all of it; the recorded argument the evidence for some future time. Those who follow us hopefully learn from this.
At this moment I don’t even know for sure when the final House vote will be – possibly next Wednesday. We will know who voted, and how they voted. Every one of the House positions, and many Senators as well, are up for election in November. Representatives will have to go on the public record, not only for 2020, but for the rest of history. Ultimately the truth will out. Sooner or later every one of us will die, including Trump. But the residue of what we do will live on, and it will be undeniable to those who follow us.
The Storm Cloud: On Halloween night, 2000 – it was a Tuesday – my wife and I were in Washington D.C., and then-Rep. Bill Luther gave us gallery passes for an evening session of the U.S. House of Representatives. There were only a few of us in the gallery. Cameras were not allowed, so I have only my memory. While I recall the debate while we were there, the topic isn’t relevant.
At some point in our time in the gallery, a Congressman whose name I don’t recall, a Republican from somewhere in Illinois, came up to greet us. Specifically, he came to apologize for what we were witnessing below: two small clumps of legislators, one Republican, the other Democrat, hardly anyone listening to anything the speaker was saying.
The hearing adjourned. About a week later, the Bush-Gore election of 2000….
We were witnessing the still young, but already very apparent and acute dysfunction of the Federal Legislature. Why the Congressman came up to visit us, I don’t know. He wasn’t any of our representative. I do remember him saying he wasn’t running for reelection. He was disgusted.
The Present Day: I write between the spectacles we have and certainly will witness: Judiciary and full House. Preceding was the House Intelligence Committee; for the preceding two years the committees were controlled by the Republicans. We are witnessing in real time the wisdom of the Abraham Lincoln quote “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. As a nation, in my opinion, we are in the deadliest Civil War we’ve ever had. There have been and will be no winners, regardless of who prevails in one battle or the other before or down the road. We are killing ourselves and our nation is ever weaker. Nature (ourselves), history proves over and over, needs balance, not dominance.
Personally: To be clear: I strongly supported (and support) Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama; I have confidence in Nancy Pelosi, and Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.
Ultimately, the judge and the jury in coming weeks will be the American people, who will reap the benefits or the punishment of their own collective action, through their elected representatives.
Elections always have long-term consequences. In my opinion, the consequences of especially the tax policy passed at the end of 2017 – year one of Trump with Republican controlled House and Senate – will be the millstone for all of us within ten years. How do tax cuts pay for the benefits we all take for granted. Too late, we’ll wonder, why did this happen? The simple answer: our own action or inaction made it happen.
Much was said about how popular Trump is. The sound bite parade talks about how he got 63,000,000 votes (about 27% of potential voters). In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 66,000,000 votes. About 100,000,000 didn’t vote at all, some for fringe or write-ins. Far fewer citizens even vote in other elections for other offices. Lack of informed voting and voters is a major problem for our society. Trump was elected by about one-fourth of the electorate; 2018 was the first response to his election and performance. Billions will be spent for the upcoming election, to what end?
Another sound bite: we don’t need to Impeach, let the people speak in the 2020 election. I remember the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency – and Republican majority refusal to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court Justice. The Republicans lament lack of fairness in the hearings leading up to the impeachment. They speak out of both sides of their mouths. Since 2001, the Republicans have controlled Congress for 14 of the last 19 years, the Senate effectively for even longer (majority rules are more difficult to counter in the Senate).
The Republicans lament what they aggressively exploited when they were in control. (Here is the party representation in the Senate and U.S. Congress over history, particularly recent history: U.S. Government001)
There is a great deal more I would like to say. LEARN THE ISSUES. We all will live by the results, whatever they turn out to be.
Below are some reflections from a personal standpoint on the past.
A. I think it is pertinent to at least provide readers with my own bias, conveyed the months of July and August, 2016, the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election, published August 3, 2016, in part “Government by Twitter“. The Republican Convention, endorsing Donald Trump, was held July 18-21, 2016, in Cleveland. The Democratic Convention was held in Philadelphia July 25-28, 2016. For anyone really interested, other blog posts which touched the topic of politics in that time period in 2016 were July 6, 19, 31 and August 10 and 26. Access in the archive section. At the time, I knew next to nothing about Donald Trump – I never even watched “The Apprentice” or whatever the program was called. I remember hesitating to use the word “Twitter”. I knew little about Twitter, and what I knew, I could not imagine it would be commonly used even if Trump became President. How wrong I was.
B. The Nixon Impeachment 1974: I was 34 years old, and politically aware. This was in the days before the internet. I remember watching Nixon’s resignation speech on a lounge television with a group of teachers at a summer leadership conference at the College of St. Benedict. My recollection is that we were a very somber group. This was a national issue, and to my recollection the Republicans and Democrats dealt with it as such, rather than the later tribal wars we now deal with on most other than routine issues.
C. The Bill Clinton Impeachment 1998: I was 58 years old. I assess every Republican utterance in the current Trump matter against their action against Bill Clinton basically in 1998. I did take a personal position through a letter to Sen. Joe Lieberman, which you can read here: Clinton Impeachment001.
D. Just Above Sunset for December 16: Peerspective and Context: This is very gloomy, but realistically so. If there is to be change, it must happen from each and every one of us, one action at a time, unceasingly. We either are part of the solution, or part of the problem.