The acquittal of Donald Trump was an outrage – one of many over the past three years. But this one was different.
It’s not just that Republican Senators voted against hearing key witnesses like John Bolton who had important new testimony. It’s not that, with the exception of Mitt Romney, they voted to give the President no consequences, despite many of them privately saying that he was guilty, and despite some even admitting that what he did was impeachable. It’s not even the frightening new legal precedent that their vote ushered in, that a President can wrap his own reelection campaign into official U.S. policy – even if it diverges from publicly known official U.S. policy, even if it involves coercing another country to interfere in a U.S. election – if he believes that his own reelection is in the “public interest.”
Of course, it’s all of those things.
But it’s also the sheer brazenness of it all. Those Senators looked their country in the eye, looked at the Constitution, and said “all of this matters less to us than continuing to enable Donald Trump.”
In a moving and heartfelt speech before the Senate, Adam Schiff said, “If right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the Framers were. Doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. Doesn’t matter how well written the oath of impartiality is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”
Those Senators made their statement loud and clear: to them, right doesn’t matter, truth doesn’t matter. Trump matters.
In an odd way, it was liberating. Many of us on the left have said over the past three years that there just has to come a time when Donald Trump will go too far, when Republican lawmakers will be shocked into a reawakening of what they once said their values were, when they will stop and say “my God, look what we have become – this is not us,” when they will finally serve as a moral bulwark and a check on this President’s power.
Their vote on Thursday made it crystal clear: for the vast majority of Republicans, that moment will never come. Nothing will be too much, too far, too grotesque to abandon Donald Trump and look elsewhere for leadership. They will not change. Trump will not change. He will not face consequences. He will only continuously avoid consequences, laugh at our outrage, and become further emboldened by it all. The moment of introspection and moral conscience that we have expected and hoped for from Republicans will not happen. It is a fantasy and a waste of mental energy. This is what we have.
It is sad, like the death of a loved one after years of hoping and praying that they would pull through from a long-lingering illness. But it is also freeing. There is no longer any need to waste time puzzling over what’s behind their actions – cult of personality, support for policy, blackmail, bribery, fear, political calculation, power grab. It doesn’t matter. They are what they are. They’re doing what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter why they’re burning down the house. What matters is that they’re doing it, water is desperately needed, and sitting around trying to figure out the cause of the fire or trying to reason with it wastes time while the house gets further engulfed in flames.
From here on, the course forward is clear, and the obstacles are clear. Donald Trump and the Republicans will do what they’re going to do, and it will be awful. Beyond policy, there will be voter suppression, cheating, foreign interference on a level that we have never experienced, deepfake videos and audio, and some of the ugliest campaign tactics that this country has seen.
But our energies must be focused on overcoming all of that to defeat Trump in November and to get as many Democrats elected as possible – it’s time for pissed off pragmatism. Some tools:
- GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. You’re preaching to the converted.
- Vote in the Primaries/Caucuses to have a say in who the Democrats’ Presidential nominee is.
- Accept that our first choice may not be the Democrats’ final nominee, and we need to work our butts off for them anyway.
- Volunteer for and donate to campaigns for House and Senate.
- Spend our weekends registering nonvoters, who outnumber those who voted for either Clinton or Trump in 2016. Organizations that do this include the League of Women Voters.
- Get involved in organizations like the Payback Project who are working specifically to defeat Republican Senators.
- Take Election Day off work to drive voters to and from the polls all day.
If all our efforts still don’t make a difference, we have a much bigger problem, but we have to do all that we can to ensure we do not face four more years of Donald Trump: America cannot survive it.
– rob rünt