The death of any society is often a slow process. Rome didn’t fall in a day, much as it was not built in a day. Alexander’s Greece did not cease to be overnight. The Persian Empire did not evaporate in the blink of an eye. Nor the British Empire, nor the French, nor the Spanish. Civilisations grow and evolve over time and, similarly, collapse and decay with age. That’s what we’re watching.
The Republicans in the Senate are the harbingers of America’s great decline. There is no longer a system of effective checks and balances in our government, they have abdicated that authority to the Executive and betrayed their oaths to the Constitution. Even if you support the current president, there’s no excuse not to look at the evidentiary documents and hear from the first hand fact witnesses relevant to the impeachment case brought against him. There is no sound reason to waive your oath and duty to “do impartial justice” before the people and the Constitution. But that’s what they have done.
In the vote to hear from witnesses and subpoena documents from the Executive Branch, Senators voted down the motion 49–51, meaning any one of the Senate Republicans could have changed the outcome. Any one of them could have stood up for what is right and just and ethical in the face of an overwhelming tide of corruption and power-hungry madness. But they, not a single one of them, didn’t.
As I’ve said before, the Republican Party is Corrupt. Full Stop.
But even I was holding out hope for some glimmer of fairness and ethical clarity here, some last vestige of the “Party of Lincoln” with its “moral” superiority and unshakable values. To say I am disappointed would be on the one hand a bit of an understatement, but on the other a bit of an overstatement at the same time. I am not, at all, shocked by the outcome of Friday’s vote. I am mortified by it, make no mistake, but not shocked. The answer to my question was always going to be a resounding “no, they’ll be as shortsighted as a blind snake!” However, I had hoped that they would at least hear and see the evidence before ploughing through towards their preordained conclusion to acquit the president.
What is most disappointing about this whole charade, though, is that it underscores, once and for all, that these Senators, who mostly represent empty, uninhabited geography, not people, don’t believe in the ideals and principles that the United States is supposed to stand for, that we pride ourselves on. They don’t believe in Liberty and Justice for all. They don’t believe that no one is above the law. They don’t believe in an ethical and balanced system of government. They don’t believe in a government for the people by the people. (With an overwhelming 70+% of Americans supporting the subpoenaing of witnesses and documents, that last one is a painful but obvious truth.) These people are in it for themselves, to line their pockets, and to generate as much wealth as they can for themselves and their corporate friends.
Without witnesses and documents, what is a trial?
What Moscow Mitch and his cabal of Senators have just put the nation through was little more than protracted kabuki theatre on one side fighting against an earnest, good-faith presentation of the facts on the other. The president’s defence team swung wildly from conspiracy theory to outlandish constitutional theory (soundly rejected by the majority of constitutional scholars, I might add) to irrelevant suppositions not germane to the case, grasping desperately at anything they thought might distract from the relevant facts at hand. Meanwhile, the House Managers presented an orderly, well reasoned series of arguments backed up by a reconstructed timeline, supported by testimony and evidence, showing the president’s wrongdoing and his knowledge of said wrongdoing and that it was wrong. But after all of it, after all of the presentations, after all of the questions and answers, after all of the theatre, the best we can get out of the Senate Republicans is “yes, he did it and it was wrong, but [trying to cheat in an election by extorting a bribe from a foreign power] isn’t a high crime” even though bribery is explicitly enumerated in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment and removal?
It should come as no surprise that the Republican Senators are eager to claim their time in the well of the Senate to explain their votes during the deliberations phase of the trial this coming week, as McConnell has prescribed. Eager to explain why they’ve abandoned reason and betrayed their constitutional oaths. Eager to wipe the slate clean and absolve their sins in front of the electorate, to justify their actions and rebuke the president in the “harshest of terms” short of actually rebuking the president in the actual, constitutionally provided “harshest of terms.” (Hell, they won’t even censure him, I’m sure.) But make no mistake, dear reader, their words will be hollow and meaningless. They will carry no weight, hold no water, bear no fruit. Do not put any faith in their performances next week. Do not let them rewrite the narrative here, make them wear this albatross and take it to the grave. Let their obituaries be defined by these votes to hear no witnesses, see no documents, and acquit this criminal president.
After the Constitutional Convention, on his exit from the hall in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was stopped by a group of citizens and asked what sort of government the Convention had created. His answer was brief, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”