Uncertain days for America with Trump acquittal

Uncertain days for America with Trump acquittal

Raulston Nembhard

Thursday, February 13, 2020

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So, the Republican Party in the US Senate, as expected, circled the wagons around President Donald Trump and acquitted him of the charges for impeachment brought by the House. They did this by blocking any witness or documentary evidence that could have made their task of acquitting the president far more difficult. But their action sullied due process for an impartial trial, to which they swore, and brought into question any kind of impartiality that they could exercise in holding an irascible and unpredictable president accountable.

By voting to acquit the president, Republicans signalled to the country that they were willing to do his bidding. Importantly, they failed to see the extent to which they were bending a co-equal branch of government by making it subservient to the will of a president whose obsession with self has signalled to the world that there is no one equal to him in intellect and the ability to get things done.

True to form, Trump soon after the acquittal went on a victory lap, rewarding those who defended him and scouring, in no uncertain terms, those who dared to oppose him in the impeachment. The president is now clearly emboldened to behave in ways that will continue to shock those who believe in decency in government. He did not disappoint his calcified supporters in firing the first salvo at Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who, at tremendous danger to his career if not life, was bold enough to tell the American people what he knew about the president's conversation on the Ukraine matter. Trump explained that Vindman had been insubordinate, but if there was no untoward motive why send his brother packing as well? Was he simply collateral damage? His attack on Mitt Romney was a given.

There is now no boundary that Trump will not cross. In my conversations with people on the subject of Trump I never tire to remind them that whatever Trump can do, he will do. And he will, of course, do what he is not supposed to do. But anything that is in his remit to do by executive order, or any other action, is fair game.

He has already demonstrated by word and deed that he is not constrained by any moral consideration of his actions. As long as it suits his agenda and those of his sponsors in the private sector, such as the oil lobby interests, he will oblige. He will not allow humbugs like climate change to dissuade him from his path so long as billions of dollars can be had from opening government lands to oil drilling.

The real sadness is that Republican senators who control that body will not be able, with any straight face, to censure or reprimand any action of the president. They have discarded any moral authority to do so. The younger members should be ashamed of themselves. The same cowardice that attended their acquittal of Trump in the face of damning evidence will haunt them to the elections in November. They are not just lackeys, but co-conspirators with the president in any egregious behaviour he will exhibit from here on. When they had a chance to rein him in they grovelled at his feet, thus putting the integrity and security of the country at risk.

Whenever you criticise Donald Trump there are those who are wont to dismiss you as a Trump hater. This sentiment was evident in some of the responses that emerged in response to my recent piece on the Senate's recalcitrance in calling witnesses at Trump's impeachment trial ('A Day of Infamy in the US Senate'). There is no doubt that this piece will also step on some toes. But unlike some of these responders — and those who think like them — hate is too powerful an emotion to trivialise. It is an unsettling narrative in American political space — made more palpable since Trump's ascendancy to office — to elevate hate to a social principle or to make a parody of the word. This is unfortunate for it hardens and poisons discourse in the nation.

The truth is that Trump is his worst enemy. He cannot help disparaging people who dare to criticise him or openly express disagreement with his policies. He brooks no criticism of his words and actions. By his own admission he hits back hard at those who oppose him or do any perceived harm to his interests. He will say and do the most outlandish things and still expect medals to be pinned to his chest.

At the start of his presidency I encouraged people to buckle up for a rough ride. I did not know that the ride would have been this rough in three years. And I will tell you a secret: It will get bumpier between now and the presidential elections. The country is in for a tempestuous period, but it will and must survive The Donald.

Dr Raulston Nembhard is a priest and social commentator. Send comments to the Observer or stead6655@aol.com.


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