There is always an excuse to not do the right thing. There is always a reason to look the other way. It is so much easier sometimes.
Republican senators are a prime example. When asked to convict Donald Trump for insurrection, they wanted to move on, unify the country, not make matters worse and argue impeachment is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president. This argument puts logic on its head.
For example, a bank manager who pilfers money from the bank couldn’t be held accountable if they no longer worked there. Or put another way, a president could not be held accountable if they lose an election. So anything goes from Election Day to certification in January. Katy bar the door! Why not start a war or kill their opponent?
The argument is ludicrous. Let’s be clear: This was an attempted coup to overthrow our constitutional government and end our 200-year democracy. And Senators knew it!
They voted to acquit because they helped create the groundswell of radicals based on their repetitive propaganda of the Big Lie. They were/are afraid. Afraid Trump will punish them. Afraid these radicals will run a primary against them. Or, afraid their lives will be threatened by the radicals they helped create.
To be clear, over 200 insurrectionists are currently either under investigation or indicted and some will likely serve jail time. And rightly so. The Senators made a decision that it was better to stay with a treasonous and corrupt demagogue rather than face the result of their actions. It was more important to protect their power, position and prestige than to admit they were complicit in this insurrection. They feel they have to stand with the ex-president at the risk of being branded in history as complicit.
There is always a reason to look the other way and sometimes doing the right thing is also the hardest. The Republican party had a fundamental choice to make. It can be a Conservative party that believes in democracy and the rule of law or it can be an authoritarian party that’s built on conspiracy theories, violence, and the Big Lie. They chose the latter.
Their vote and the Republican party will live on in infamy as the party that enabled treason. Impeachment was not so much a punishment for Trump as a necessity for democracy. Either things matter, or they don’t. Either the United States believes in democracy and the peaceful transition of power, or it doesn’t.
If organizing a coup of our government isn’t a reason to convict a president, nothing is. The vote to not convict made those who were called upon to decide–complicit. People such as Montana’s Senator Steve Daines and 42 other Republicans demonstrated spineless courage because they couldn’t possibly tell their constituents the truth. They were afraid of the people they misled.
They owed their allegiance not to America and our Constitution, but to Donald Trump and his followers because of the lies they told. The election was fair. They knew it. But there is also an unfairness about a group of elites filling voters with lies about a stolen election, milking them for millions of donations because they are fighting to “save” the country, and then denying any responsibility while those who raided the capitol are hauled off to jail.
But, because of their cowardice and no penalty for this treason, it is likely to happen again.
David James is a retired teacher living in Eureka.