- Terry Wigmore
If you received that grade on a test or assignment you'd be devastated. Yet that is exactly how many, on the Republican side of the Senate, were able to put party and self to the side and vote to convict the most morally bankrupt president in American history. Seven out of Fifty.
Here are the seven: Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine (who learned that Trump will, in fact, do it again if you don't convict him this time - roll the tape - https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/02/05/susan-collins-trump-learned-lesson-state-of-the-union-sot-nd-vpx.cnn), Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska (see the video of Sasse's response to his Nebraska Republican party censure of him for voting to convict Trump in the House vote on impeachment - https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/nebraska-us-sen-sasse-pushes-back-gop-activists-75709479) and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. These are the names of people who should really be labeled as "patriots," and I hope they will be honoured in the books that will be written about this time in American history. Most of the names are "moderate" Republicans - those who tend to see merits in policy positions that are not usual for the more conservative ones to take. They are able to move to a more centrist position and look for support across the political divide. In this impeachment trial, they were the ones who asked meaningful questions, not simply questions designed to tee-up support for their side. Genuine inquiry is the true test of an open mind. And to be an "impartial juror," which is precisely what they vowed to be, you need to have an open mind, not one closed in by a party whip or constrained by a desired political outcome that was determined the moment the second impeachment was announced (following the insurrection on January 6, 2021).
The remedy for corrupt leadership has always been in the hands of the Congress and the Senate. The house gathered and presented the evidence, and impeached Trump for the second time. The Senate was uncertain about the constitutionality of hearing the case brought against Trump, so they voted on this question at the outset of the process, and though the majority voted in acknowledgment that it was indeed within the purview of the US Senate to hear the 2nd case against Trump, the Republicans seemed to have their party-aligned collective minds already checked out. They were not, for the most part, the impartial jurors required for the impeachment. Perhaps it is unreasonable to see a context in which that impartiality could ever take place. What were the framers of the US Constitution thinking when they wrote about the remedy for a corrupt leader? I thought it was clear that impeachment was a remedy for leaders who had demonstrated, through their words and deeds, a complete abandonment of the principled path of honourable leadership (committed acts of "high crimes and misdemeanours"). If any president had abandoned the principled path, it was Trump. And it doesn't take any special analysis to see and judge the former president's unrelenting assault on truth as a wanton abandonment of a principled life. Trump's public record, all the tweets and all the speeches at his constant stream of rallies and all the podium addresses have led to a mountain of unscrupulous claims and falsehoods. I think the final tally of his lies and misrepresentations of the truth and the facts of situations soared past 33,000 - in just 4 years. Imagine what the analysis of a lifetime would yield? Undoubtedly, there will be a presidential biographer who will include these in an official record of the Trump presidency. I await that publication.
My concern was always about how Trump took control of the Republican party. Did he have incriminating tapes on every single Republican, coercing their support? It would take a lot of imagination to think that was possible, though, in truth, Trump has used strong-arm tactics to force consent and it is not completely beyond the bounds of reason to think that this might be possible. I think the answer is much simpler, though. The Republican party was already on the way to where Trump was simply a natural and logical outcome . It was already well on the way toward "political performance nihilism" - a phrase I heard used by one political analyst during the 2nd impeachment coverage and a phrase that I wish I had coined. (I will try to find out who the person was to give them proper credit). I am interested in how that came to be. My question is phrased in less philosophical language and in simply moral terms - When did the Republican Party lose its moral compass? For that matter, it is fair to ask whether it is even possible, in the 21st century, to still have a claim on a moral compass in any political arena? Are all politics a question of transactionalism (quid pro-quo utilitarianism)? I don't want to go down that road and lament the loss of true liberalism, but I think the social disruption many countries are facing is actually rooted in the loss of the liberal ideology that had governed societies from the enlightenment on (that and the countless unresolved social issues of income disparity, hunger, war, health care, education, etc. that remain). Look at this definition of liberalism found in a search of google:
lib·er·al·ism /ˈlib(ə)rəˌlizəm/ See definitions in: all -theology, politics
noun noun: liberalism 1. willingness to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one's own; openness to new ideas.
2 the holding of political views that are socially progressive and promote social welfare.
3. a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise.
Where did all of this go? It seems to have gone down the "crapper" since partisanship has taken over political enterprises in many countries. Will we ever return to what Senator John McCain called, "regular order?" I would like to think so, but a quick look at the Republican performance on the 2nd impeachment of Trump, suggests that 7/50 will simply not translate into a passing grade, whatever curve you use to adjust the score.