“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.”Abraham Lincoln
We live in the most divided country that The United States has been since The Civil War. People hold strong opposing opinions about issues of great importance. Climate Change, Abortion, Vaccinations, Immigration, and the conduct of the government are just a few. I don’t want to downplay the importance of any of these issues, but there is one that seems to me to override all others. Is it right, or necessary, to impeach the President?
I understand that, again, there is great debate over this topic. There are those who believe the President is doing the best he possibly can, given the circumstances. He is as hated as he is loved, he is constantly attacked in the news media, he is being investigated over and over again, and his every word comes under scrutiny. For all of that, though, his supporters point to the excellent economy, and they tell us Mr. Trump is responsible for those numbers. They will tell us that he doesn’t behave like other politicians, and this is to be admired. Other politicians are frequently obfuscating in every word that escapes their lips. Their words are so measured that they become meaningless. This President doesn’t measure his words; he says what he feels, and many people share his feelings. They approve of his aberrant behavior. They applaud it enthusiastically.
There are others who despise the President. They point to the 10,000 documented lies he has told. They talk about the caging and tear gassing of children. They talk about the government shutdown he proudly said he would, and subsequently did, cause. They object to his payments to porn stars and Playboy bunnies, his promised, but failed, Muslim ban, his Wall, and his broken promises concerning healthcare. They’re appalled at his choices for The Supreme Court, and they believe his latest Attorney General to be a fraud. They boo him enthusiastically.
But, for me, the Heart of The Issue is whether his behavior is what we want from our President, not only now, but for all the Presidents to come. The behavior that I’m discussing is his overt efforts to stop Congress from fulfilling their constitutional duty to oversee the Presidency and provide checks and balances to keep it from becoming a dictatorship.
If the Democrats begin impeachment proceedings, they will almost certainly fail. The Republicans are the majority of the Senate, and it is wildly unlikely they will vote to uphold the impeachment. The political risk is that this will empower the President’s base, and it will help him to get re-elected. The Democrats, obviously, don’t want that outcome, so impeachment seems like a foolish idea. They accomplish none of their immediate goals. Not only does the President finish his first term, but he gets elected for a second one. The politics are very bad for Democrats.
But, we must look beyond present day politics, and consider the future. The last time we were this divided, a better President said this:
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation… We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility.Abraham Lincoln
The day may come when Americans look to 2019, and they decide that our country either stood up for itself, or laid down and let the oligarchy in which we’re living slide into dictatorship. If, as our Attorney General suggests, “That’s not a crime… To be obstruction of justice the lie has to be tied to impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding… If the President is being falsely accused… and he felt this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents, and was hampering his ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an Independent Counsel.”
What does that mean for future generations? The next President, perhaps a Democrat, or an Independent, or, for all I know, an Anarchist, a Socialist, or a Nazi, can decide he can obstruct an investigation into his behavior (or hers), because he believes he has been falsely accused.
Even an ardent Trump supporter would, I think, recognize the danger in that. Whomever your Least Favorite President is, whether it’s Trump or Obama, or Carter, or Kennedy, or anyone named Bush, or even Lincoln, imagine that person, or someone much like him, being elected in 2024, or 2028…. or in your grandchildren’s lifetimes. This President can now do things you loathe with absolute impunity. Anyone who tries to investigate this President can be legally obstructed because this President believes the accusations against him (or her) are lies. In other words, the entire system of Checks and Balances will collapse. Without it, there is nothing defending us from a ruthless dictator, of any party or ideology.
I had concerns about writing this. I find myself, even now, reluctant to publish it. Just as the politics of impeachment are bad for Democrats, the politics of publishing are bad for me.
First, I have friends whose anger I’m all but inviting. I’m trying my best to stay open and objective, and sticking only to the facts, but I am certain someone who matters to me will object. I don’t care to lose friends. I have only a few, and each of them matters to me. I have friends whose opinions of my writing carry immense weight with me, and I have no idea what their political persuasions may be. I would be more than sad if they decided that we can no longer be friends because we disagree about this.
Second, I’m just stepping into the world of writing for strangers. I’ve shown my work, all my life, only to my friends. When a play of mine was performed, strangers saw it, but the script, itself, was seen only by those who know me. I’m not in a position that I can afford to alienate strangers who enjoy my work. I want them to return and read more of what I write. Losing them would also disappoint me deeply.
So, why publish this at all?
I’m publishing because, as a friend reminded me earlier this week, “The internet is forever.” I am living, as are you, through an important moment in history. My power to control what is happening in my government is all but nonexistent. I can vote. And, I can raise my voice, and share my thoughts with others in hopes of either reinforcing their beliefs, or getting them to consider new ones.
There are many writers who are both better and more knowledgeable than I who can, have, and will write better about this than I have just done. I’m perhaps half a drop of water in the Pacific Ocean of Pundits. My personal insignificance, however, will no more spare me than it did those who lived during the Lincoln administration.
I want to be able to say that, at this moment in history, I acted in the only way open to me. I’m too old to protest. The last time I tried I passed out from heat stroke. It was nearly another hospital trip for me. I can’t knock on doors; people scare the hell out of me. But, what I can do is write. And I can find the courage to share my thoughts, even at some small peril to myself.
I may lose friends and readers, but I will also be able to say I did what pathetically little I could to save the country I love.
Our leaders have the power to do much more. I’m hopeful they’ll disenthrall themselves, and then they shall save our country.