So President Donald Trump delivered a speech last night. While he didn’t specifically mention impeachment in his State of the Union address, it was obvious Trump was taking a sort of victory lap in advance of today’s Senate vote to acquit.
Don’t pay attention to the circus antics today. Pay attention to the reasons why he’s been on trial, and pay attention to whether our elected leaders take action to respect the law or submit to lawlessness.
2:15 PM UPDATE: The Senate voted 48-52 against convicting Trump on abuse of power, and 47-53 against convicting Trump on obstruction of justice. All 47 Democrats voted for both articles, and Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voted with Democrats on the abuse of power article.
It’s not merely “uncivil”. It’s actually still illegal.
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 5, 2020
I’m not going to play the game and pretend that Trump’s State of the Union address was anything other than a circus of a reality TV show featuring a presidential medal for a notorious bigot, open boasting of his xenophobic anti-immigrant regime, and outright gaslighting of his efforts to destroy the social safety net that’s served as a lifeline to the working poor. Yet at the same time, Trump’s speech was also a warning to the entire country that he has no plan to ever “normalize” his conduct in office.
Rather, Trump expects us to “normalize” his crimes as just “politics as usual”. He expects us to ignore the evidence of his crimes, even when ex-associates like Lev Parnas and John Bolton confirm the evidence and the crimes. He doesn’t care about Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) declaring his actions “inappropriate” and “wrong”. He only cares that they’re all voting to acquit him of these crimes that are not only “inappropriate” and “wrong”, but also illegal and dangerous.
So please, spare me the civility, decorum, and etiquette lectures over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) ripping of her printed copy of Trump’s speech and/or other House Democrats’ decision to walk out or not attend at all. After all, what’s so civil about shaking down a foreign government to “get dirt” on a political opponent and attempting to coerce that foreign government to protect one’s criminal associates?
“Fringe is the new mainstream”, continued
Actions have consequences. Even if/when Republican Senators vote to acquit Trump, there will be consequences for America. The recent death threat targeting Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) is just the latest in a growing string of terrorist attacks and threats of additional violence that have rocked the country.
Just last month, we witnessed a “peaceful rally” involving far-right militia networks who sought to nullify the State of Virginia’s duly elected legislature. As of now, that “peaceful rally” might still be having its effect as a few Democratic legislators are getting cold feet over “extreme gun control bills” like safe storage requirements and a military-grade assault weapons ban. They are, however, proceeding with other gun safety proposals like expanded background checks and a “red flag” law.
Judging by Virginia’s current “gun debate” and certain Nevada officials’ refusal to enforce our new gun laws, this trend of delegitimizing our public institutions while legitimizing formerly “fringe” groups and activities continues. What’s the point of having laws if they can be nullified by county sheriffs, or perhaps “repealed and replaced” by way of a legally dubious lawsuit, or maybe simply ignored and papered over by a “declaration of national emergency”? Of course, the point of these attempts to subvert duly enacted state and federal laws is to “repeal and replace” our system of laws, checks, and balances with government by fiat.
“The good news is that, in our democracy, we still have the power.”
– Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts)
It’s easy to look at all of this and lose faith in this country of ours. After all, they fought the law and they’re on track to win. Maybe The Crickets and The Clash were wrong, after all?
Hold that thought. Several Democrats delivered rebuttals to Trump’s speech yesterday, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley for the Working Families Party. After Pressley condemned “the bigotry and hatred from this administration” along with the crimes that led to Trump’s impeachment, she offered this message of hope for the country.
“The good news is that, in our democracy, we still have the power. The power to stand up and evict that man in the Oval Office come November.” Pressley declared. She continued, “In the midst of the constant insult and assault on our civil rights, and our liberties, our very humanity, it is easy to feel dismayed. To feel small. But I remember the wisdom my mother shared with me – when we organize, we are powerful.”
“What the president did was wrong. Grievously wrong.”
– Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah)
"The grave question the Constitution tasks Senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor.
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) February 5, 2020
As I finish writing this, another elected official with a history in Massachusetts politics just made news: Senator Mitt Romney announced he’s the one Republican Senator who will vote to convict and remove Trump from office. As some other Republicans were salivating over a handful of Democrats who’ve wavered over their final impeachment votes, Romney reminded his colleagues of what this vote should be about.
“With my vote I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty,” Romney declared on the Senate floor earlier today. “What the president did was wrong. Grievously wrong.”
WATCH: Sen. Mitt Romney announces that he will vote to convict President Trump.
"The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust," the Utah Republican said in his floor speech.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) February 5, 2020
Nevada’s own Senators Jacky Rosen (D) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D) voted to convict Trump on both articles, along with all the other Democratic Senators. Yet while no other Republicans joined them, Romney’s big announcement serves as a reminder that things like laws and values still matter. He could have followed Collins, Murkowski, and Alexander down their “inappropriate, but whatever” rabbit hole, but he’s instead taking personal action to debunk Trump’s “partisan witch hunt” talking points.
Even though the conclusion of today’s Senate vote was predetermined long ago, this isn’t the final vote that Americans will take. And even as some of the Democrats running against Trump are still arguing over who deserves the biggest “Iowa bounce”, today’s actions in the Senate serve as a critical reminder of what really matters this year: The future survival of our laws, our values, and our democracy.