Could Holding Trump Accountable Be Wrong?
It's easy to dismiss the impending impeachment trial as futile, but doing the right thing now is critical for the history books and necessary to remind America of who she was and what she should be.
The analysis about the impending Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump continues to pour in, and atop the pile of questions being asked is always: “Is impeaching Trump, after he has left office and can technically cause no further harm really that important, given how many pressing issues we have facing our country?” Without pause, my answer has always been “yes,” and I have many reasons, but the most important among them is the principle that has been re-enforced over and over through my legal training — doing what is right and just, should typically outweigh all other choices.
I understand all of the arguments in favor of just moving on, and not wasting any more time with procedural ceremonies that are pointless for the immediate future, and represent a hollow gesture. I am also aware that this is the lead argument for Republicans in the US Senate right now, who are continuing their feckless strategies of looking the other way in order to keep their fundraising coffers full and their political options open. But, there are also several practical reasons for moving forward on impeachment that will become more important as we head into another election cycle.
Donald Trump was able to make money promoting himself in the world of politics. As a candidate, he could fundraise millions of dollars with little effort and then distribute those funds in a way that has still remained unchecked. By getting the press to cover his rallies — at first based on his outlandishness and next based upon his presidency — he would get more free promotion and be able to reach a record number of people. This is something that Trump, who is obsessed with making money, will continue to utilize while out of office, and in order to keep everyone tuned in he will become even more brash and shocking.
If we do not legally hamper his ability to run for public office again, through an impeachment trial and conviction in the US Senate, Donald Trump will continue to run for office, in a non-stop frenzy of white nationalist rallies and money grabs from domestic terrorists who support him. We are still battling Trump, who continues to enact his own destructive agendas through Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and on and on. The fact that the remainder of the Republican Party remains reticent to act or speak against him publicly shows the power he continues to wield over the base of conservative supporters and big money donors. For this reason, the US Senate must permanently disqualify Trump, using Article I of the US Constitution, from holding “any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States,” through an impeachment conviction.
We also have an urgent need to protect our national security and shore up the substantial damage done to our federal intelligence agencies at the hands of the former president himself. Donald Trump gutted the funding for many of the investigative arms of his own government that posed a threat to his amassing un-checked power. Trump also made a point, as Commander in Chief and head of all federal agencies, to redirect the attention of US intelligence to areas that diverted their attention away from domestic terrorism. This is one aspect that weakened our federal resources, and allowed for Trump’s followers to get as far as they did in their attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6.
We now have glaring gaps in manpower, which have led to omissions of critical intel, and we are faced with the proposition that there is no way a siege on the US Capitol could have happened like it did, if not for many people, in positions of very high authority, acting on Trump’s behalf and against the United States of America. Despite the change of power at the White House, there are many vulnerable areas that remain weakened. The consuming investigation, regarding the events on Jan. 6, has only created more of a deficit for federal intel agencies, who are struggling to catch up. Donald Trump will have access to classified documents as a former president, and only a conviction in this upcoming trial can stop that. Putting an end to Trump’s influence over money and power in America is now a critical proposition for our own national security.
There is also an argument to be made about the importance of rehabilitating and maintaining the health of our democracy, which relies on a thriving two-party system to truly operate at a peak level. The longer Trump and his contingent are allowed to remain in any state of lingering power, the longer it takes the Republican Party to reform into anything that resembles the legitimate, conservative ideals it purports to represent. If we wait on this for too long, America will be forced to limp through the race, always trying to make up ground instead of leading the pack.
There are many consequences to consider for failing to hold Donald Trump accountable in a way that actually limits his power and authority moving forward — but the most important argument by far is the simplest: it is the right thing to do. Many are quick to dismiss the idea as a futile exercise in going through the motions and wasting time on a pointless process, because the outcome seems glaringly predictable. But, I will remind you, that politics has become an animal that serves to both govern and entertain us, and it moves at a lightening pace.
Thanks to the internet and social media, it is also a field that can turn on a dime, with any moment posing the opportunity to change millions of minds in one, split-viral second. For this reason, politics is also now a sport, and a second historic impeachment trial is more like an Olympic event than a political one. When there are so many unpredictable variables in a competition of this nature, anything can happen — the result should not be presumed.
Aside from the capricious nature of the upcoming impeachment trial, and the opportunity for public opinion to sway the votes of senators, there is the argument that you never know what is possible until you do it. To leave something so critical undone, simply because the task appears to be insurmountable, goes against all of the basic ideals that America embodies. Imagine the Wright Brothers saying, “naw…it looks SUPER windy today,” or Henry Ford saying, “you know, I THINK I’d rather walk…”
Yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave a press conference in which she condemned the ongoing actions of members of Congress who seem to have no respect for their colleagues or the building in which they govern. She also discussed the status of the Biden Covid Relief Plan, which now has a clear path to victory after a resolution passed at 5:30 this morning, thanks to the first tie-breaking vote cast by our new vice president.
Most importantly, Speaker Pelosi reminded us why it is so critical that we move forward on the Trump Impeachment Trial and why a conviction is never out of the question. You can watch Pelosi answer the question about why bother going through with the impeachment trial, which appears to be a losing battle, in the video embedded in the tweet below:
Speaker Pelosi ends her impassioned argument in favor of doing the right thing by repeating the question everyone seems to be asking: why bother? “Ask our founders why bother, ask those who wrote the Constitution, ask Abraham Lincoln, ask anyone who cares about our democracy why we are bothering — you cannot go forward until you have justice.” Fortunately, we can imagine asking Abraham Lincoln because we have an answer from him in another moment, after the conclusion of a Civil War, that also parallels this exact moment, which could very well be the beginning of one:
“It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick gave the last full measure of devotion on Jan. 6, to protect us all from a seditious insurgency and we cannot allow his death to be in vain. If you are still in doubt, heed the advice of John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and considered among our Founding Fathers, who said, “You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it.”
To quote Hillary Clinton, quoting Tom Hanks from A League of Their Own, in her book about losing the 2016 election: “It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” If HRC can go through everything she did and still see the importance of the experience, you can deal with watching other people attempt to hold Donald Trump accountable for inciting his mob to overthrow the government.
I would even dare to say you could go so far as to honor Officer Sicknick by making a call to your senators to demand they convict Donald Trump. Given what great people in history have worked for, in the of face defeat, it should be fairly easy to dismiss any pessimism for the ideals of what Lincoln called “our better angels.” This is a time to honor the fallen — from a month ago and from hundreds of years ago — with the simple act of standing up for what is right.
Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.
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