In a perfect, Hollywood-inspired movie, the excellent arguments and convincing evidence presented by the impeachment managers this week would rally the Senate to declare en masse that the actions of the former president are inexcusable and worthy of impeachment. They would vote 100 to 0 to convict him and again to prevent him from ever holding office again.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem likely. GOP senators are ignoring the arguments, reading their phones or newspapers or completely failing to even attend the hearing. Last night, after a day of moving and horrifying video and audio recordings presented to the Senate and the people, recordings never before released to the public, recordings that made it clear that the lives of a large proportion of our legislative branch—and the vice president!—were in extreme danger, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, “The ‘Not Guilty’ vote is growing after today. I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd.”
If the mob had had its way, bombs would have gone off around the Capitol. Insurrectionists who invaded the building went in search of congressional leaders with murderous intent. Some were armed with zip cuffs and wore full tactical gear. The man who put his feet on the desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office was carrying a taser. Officers of the Capitol police and Metropolitan police were sprayed with bear spray and mace, beaten, stabbed, and even killed.
If the mob had had its way, if Trump’s supporters had, in fact, murdered congressional leaders and taken others hostage, our democratic system would have been turned over to the rule of a mysogynistic, narcissistic, racist, xenophobic tyrant. He would have been so emboldened by the success of his mob and the decimation of our legislature that his actions thereafter would likely have been even more horrifying than the past 4 years had already been. He would have claimed that the people had spoken and deemed him king. He would have seen it, in his bizarre delusional way, as a sign that everyone in the country supported him, and as further proof that the election results had been fraudulent.
The mob failed. For this we must be grateful, because there’s no telling where those of us who long been opposed the Trump administration would have ended up when he and his supporters began knocking down doors and herding us to face his distorted justice.
We have long heard the phantom rhetoric from Republicans that if put in power, Democrats will take away their guns and other acts in opposition to their Constitutional freedoms. We have heard these imagined oppressions (never mind that it takes a hell of a lot to overturn a Constitutional amendment) for years and ignored them as the bluster of a party trying to rouse its members. But there was no rhetoric under Trump. When he wanted something done, when some random idea came into his head, he sought to make it happen. He wanted to be placed on Mount Rushmore, and actually looked into having it done. He told attendees at his rallies to beat up any who oppose him. He believed himself the idol of his people and his actions all supported by the majority.
Had the mob succeeded, he would have established himself as a dictator. Does anyone doubt he would have abolished the Congress, or stocked it only with his lapdogs, making it nothing more than a figurehead assembly? Can anyone doubt that he would have encouraged his followers to seek out and seek vengeance on the opposition in their own communities? What would have happened to our friends and neighbors who immigrated to this country—documented or not—under his rule? How long would it have been before Putin had an office next to Trump’s in the White House?
The ideal of a Senate that rallies to hold Trump accountable for his crimes and declares as a united front that he has forfeited his right to hold office in this country is a daydream. There are too many in the Senate who are digging in their heels because they are so addicted to kissing Trump’s ass instead of upholding their oaths and the interests of the American people. The reality is, the impeachment vote will likely not result in conviction. Not because Trump is not guilty, but because these senators are simply too weak, too submissive, too beholden to the deep pockets of their financial supporters to stand up as leaders and protect the country they represent. They had no problem impeaching a president for getting a blowjob. They had no problem rushing the acceptance of a Supreme Court justice a week before the election (after stalling a previous appointee’s acceptance for 8 months) to cement their power in the judicial branch.
Yet the very idea of impeaching a president who rejected the results of our election, called his supporters to come to DC on January 6, and incited them in his speech on that morning to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” is unacceptable to them. “This election was stolen” and “we’ll never concede” he said. “We will stop the steal.” When the crowd began shouting “Fight for Trump,” he thanked them and told them that if they didn’t fight, they “[wouldn’t] have a country anymore.” He primed them. His years of lies and propaganda were the tinder and the kindling. He stacked the seasoned wood—his mob of angry and violent supporters—high and wide across the capital city on January 6, and lit a match with his speech. An inferno erupted and nearly consumed our democracy while he watched and warmed himself by the glow of the flames.
He’s guilty of treason and sedition. He failed to uphold his oath of office. He failed to do everything in his power to protect the lives and sanctity of our Congress. He deserves to be impeached. That’s the reality.
If only there were more in our government who believed in the American ideal.