Fight Like Hell
The unprecedented second impeachment trial for Donald Trump begins in the Senate today, after the former president took the stage on Jan. 6 to incite a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.
He did it. We can clearly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Donald Trump fulfilled the legal requirements necessary to substantiate a guilty charge of ‘incitement’ under federal law. It is not often that such a definitive statement on the guilt of the accused can be legitimately made before a jury has heard all of the evidence and applied the law. But, in this instance, we can do so because we saw Trump break the law in real time, live on a national stage.
Fight like hell. This is a statement — or more aptly put, an idiom — that was used many times over the course of the last several years by Donald Trump, in various political rally scenarios. By definition, an idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase. On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Donald Trump pushed his catch-phrase further than he ever had before, and took the sentiment from a figurative state into a literal reality.
Today the United States Senate will begin the proceedings that were intended to hold a president to account — or, as Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 66, when he used four counter-arguments to defend the nature and need for the impeachment process: to determine culpability by relying on "evidences of guilt so extraordinary.” Over the last four years, we have witnessed first-hand the insulation a sitting president enjoys.
We are also well aware that the intent of our Founding Fathers was not to create another king through the executive office — they debated what to call the president for weeks at the Constitutional Convention, where “Exhausted Highness” was put and then subsequently thrown off of the table. A king is considered sacred, untouchable by human laws and never held to account for egregious missteps.
According to Alexander Hamilton, there is “no punishment to which [the president] can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution.” The act of impeachment provides that essential check on unlimited power that would otherwise be considered sovereign. That next step of conferring a determination of guilt through a conviction in the Senate is what makes that principle a reality.
If Senate Republicans fail to convict Donald J. Trump for inciting an insurrection, they will be failing at an even more central task, which is the duty to uphold their sworn oath to the Constitution. An acquittal now will represent a breakdown in democracy, and it will be at the expense of and peril to Republicans, as this verdict will be recorded for history and referenced forever. Those in the Senate who decline to convict Trump now, will ultimately be convicting themselves for all time.
Ten Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for the second time several weeks ago, creating the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in US history. This served as a stark contrast to the previously unanimous support for Trump among House Republicans in his first impeachment. Party control of the US Senate is evenly split, and a two-thirds majority is required for conviction. This means that if all Democratic senators, and the two Independents who caucus with them, vote to convict Trump, 17 Republican senators would need to convict as well. Getting this many Republicans to convict a man who is still solidly in control of their party, seems unlikely.
A failure to convict Donald Trump in the Senate, for the flagrant crime that we all witnessed him commit, seems inevitable. While the game of politics is ongoing and inconstant, bolstering a defining failure for our American Republic today with the idea that it could very well be the catalyst for change tomorrow, feels wanting. The long game of politics trudges on, and the hope for condemnation and judgment remains, through other avenues that do not rely upon party favor or public sentiment.
Most importantly, history will be made from the next few weeks of action, or inaction, by those who were chosen to serve America. The facts that will be examined by our successors will reflect the truth, with or without a conviction. When the whistle is blown for the next play, it is always another opportunity to redeem our government and our nation — even if takes longer than expected. American democracy rewards diplomacy and patience, and a pillar of ethics, built on the strength of the rule of law, can withstand any misguided soul fighting like hell.
Amee Vanderpool is an independent journalist and attorney, who lives in Washington, DC. In addition to writing the SHERO Newsletter, she is a contributor to newspapers and magazines, and an analyst for BBC radio, often appearing in podcasts and radio interviews. You can follow Amee on Twitter under @girlsreallyrule and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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