(Togetherness Is So Much Better, Except When We Are In Charge, They Say)
Those of you who didn’t fantasize about the girl or boy of your dreams during history classes might remember that some scholars said that after the British army surrendered and departed from Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, they marched to the tune of “The World Turned Upside Down.” Different scholars have different opinions about the veracity of the claim.
But no one could dispute the change in the Republican Party since the second impeachment of their former beloved president, Donald John Trump.
Even the most conservative of the GOP clan, no that’s the wrong word, it should be radical (you can look up the dictionary definition of conservative if you have one) have had a change of heart ever since the Democrats said they would impeach the disgraced president. A better word to describe the actions of many Republicans in the House and Senate and governor’s mansions over the past five years is radical. (That too is in the dictionary.)
Since the first mention of the plan to again impeach Trump, the Republican political world has been turned upside down.
The heart-hardened Republicans, most of whom never saw a liberal they liked, have overnight become “bleeding hearts,” a term normally reserved for the most liberal Democrats. (Merriam-Webster defines it is as “feeling or showing excessive or extravagant sympathy especially for an object of alleged persecution—used as a term of disparagement for people with politically liberal opinions.”)
And “bleeding hearts” are what the Republicans have magically transformed into:
- Before the impeachment they said that the Democrats should not go ahead with impeachment plans because it would harm the country.
- Before the impeachment they said that going ahead with the impeachment would further divide the country.
- Before the impeachment they said that the Democrats should instead try to heal the nation, (even though for the past five years they didn’t attempt to stop Donald John Trump, the twice impeached disgraced former president, from dividing the country.)
- Prior to the Senate trial, Republicans urged the Democrats to turn the other check and forget the unlawful actions of Donald John Trump because he was no longer president. Instead of “Make America Great” the new GOP, motto temporarily became “To err is human, to forgive divine.” But no one was fooled, except people who actually believed the Republicans.
- A trail balloon suggesting that the former president be censored instead of tried quickly burst.
After the impeachment became a fact, the former law and order Republicans stood buy silently while the Trump administration pardoned even felons who committed crimes against the United States. More than 120 “bleeding hearts” Republicans also voted on January 6 to void a democratically run election and failed to condemn rioters who stormed the Capitol, shouting death to Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after being instigated by Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, Jr., all of whom should be prosecuted for their involvement in helping to launch the coup attempt.
The Democrats knew before the Senate trial began that their chance of convicting Donald John Trump was considerably less than the probability of me being the MVP of the Super Bowl. And everyone with the IQ of my pet turtle knew that the GOP didn’t magically become the party of forgiveness, charity and unity.
So why did the Republicans shed their wolves clothing and camouflage themselves as sheep? And why did the Democrats insist on a trial whose outcome was known before it began?
The answers were obvious:
- The Republicans didn’t want the transgressions of President Trump and films of his supporters storming the Capitol to have another showing. They didn’t want his remarks and mob films showing the Capitol being stormed to again be seen on daytime TV and reshown during prime time and shown again as the 2022 and 2024 elections draw closer. But like the coronavirus that Trump said would soon magically disappear and is still killing thousands of Americans each week as I write this, and will continue to due so for many months to come, the evidence couldn’t be hidden because the Democrats, several current Republican members of the Senate and many more past GOP politicians believed the truth must be told and that former President Trump and much of the GOP establishment of today should not be able to conceal the damage done to American democracy.
- The Democrats rightfully believed that the former president consistently lied that he won the election, that it was stolen from him and that his inflammatory rhetoric led to the storming of the Capitol on January 6 that led to the death of six people and seriously injured many more. They rightfully believed that the story of Trump’s attempted coup must be officially told, regardless of the jury’s verdict. And, importantly, the Democrats wanted a historical record of Trump’s actions to be recorded as well as introducing new investigative information that had not been made public.
- Even though the Democrats knew that the chances of Trump being found guilty by Republican senators more frightened about being primaried than defending democracy was ne’er impossible, the Democrats believed it’s important that the twice-impeached president’s conduct should not be swept under the rug and the story of his actions should be told to the American public in an all-encompassing formal setting instead of the incomplete and the often deceptive coverage on battling TV cable outlets.
In an attempt to prove their case, Democrats presented historical facts and taped footage dating back months before the presidential election and up to the January 6 insurrection:
- They presented numerous tapes of the former president saying that the only way he could lose was because of a “rigged election” and
- They presented tapes of the former president’s inflammatory remarks to the mob that stormed the Capitol, and
- They presented tapes of the storming of the Capitol, and
- They presented tapes of his antidemocratic rhetoric and his undermining of the election.
- But the most damning evidence was Trump’s own words.
Nevertheless enough frightened GOP senators disregarded the evidence and instead bowed and kissed the ring of the would-be destroyer of our democracy.
Much of Trump’s lawyers’ defense were claims that the former president didn’t make incendiary statements to the crowd he said should join him in Washington on January 6 for a “wild time.”
Instead, they resorted to whitewashing the actual events. Here’s what they emphasized:
- They fell back on a First Amendment defense, saying that Trump had been exercising his right to express his belief that the election results were suspect. (In their brief, they spelled the United States wrong, which makes me wonder if the former president proofed it or wrote it.), and
- They claimed it was unconstitutional to try the president because he was no longer the president, and
- They said that the trial will cause a division among the population of the U.S., neglecting to say that Trump had already accomplished that during the past five years, and
- They attempted to equate statements by Democrats during the Black Lives Matter rallies, some leading to violence, with the storming of the Capitol by rioters egged on by Trump.
One defense they didn’t use was the one that Trump used many times before the 2020 election: “The only way I can lose this election is if it has been “rigged.”
Trump’s lawyers presented a defense that was Trumpian in style. They attacked personally the veracity of the Democratic House Managers, they made outright false statements that were evident to anyone watching the proceedings, they took House managers remarks out of context, they misquoted remarks and they attacked the ‘biased” news media. Various news reports said the Trump’s lawyers presented false and misleading information about the riots. The New York Times reported that “Many claims were echoes of right-wing talking points popularized on social media or ones that were spread by Mr. Trump himself.”
But even though he voted to acquit on process claims, GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t swayed by the tactics of Trump’s lawyers and at trials end delivered a blistering 20 minute attack on the actions of the former president.
At the conclusion of the trial, the expected results did not change: Instead of the two-thirds of the Senate voting to convict Trump, only 43 senators did. Shamefully only seven Republicans joined with 50 Democrats. Trump and his GOP cohorts had their Pyrrhic victory.
But Trump’s acquittal and Pyrrhic victory, named after Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus who in 279 BCE defeated the Romans but lost many of his troops, will be mitigated in years to come as many of his followers are found guilty of their crimes. And each time one is convicted the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters will be back in the news and the former president’s crimes will again be highlighted. And young students of the future, instead of learning about Trump’s MAGA policies will instead learn of his disgrace.
The refusal of the Republicans in the Senate to convict a former president who was instrumental in instigating an insurrection did not come as a surprise. Their “not guilty” votes showed what we already knew – they would rather acquit a president who attempted a coup that would have shredded our Constitution than risk loosing an election.
Equally appalling with the Republican senators refusal to convict was GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s visit to the Florida swamp to kiss the ring of a disgraced former president. That action proved that the Republican Party is still the Party of Trump – and that’s worrisome to everyone who believers in our democratic traditions, including establishment Republicans. Already the events of January 6 have had a negative affect as more than 140,000 Republicans have canceled their registrations in the aftermath of the January storming of the Capitol, with major defections in California, Pennsylvania, Arizona and North Carolina, according to news reports.
The truly frightening saga of a deranged totalitarian-inclined former president is that his history of lying has resulted in giving cover to radical extremists who now openly support insurrection, and the leaders and much of the backbenchers of the Republican Party are afraid to speak up for democracy.
Some pundits have said that the Senate trial was a waste of time because the outcome was known before it began. What these pundits refuse to consider is that the Democrats knew that conviction was an improbable outcome. But going ahead with the trial was necessary to reinforce the former president’s totalitarian-like actions for American’s living today as well as for the historical record. Their testimony was aimed not just at the 100 Senators but also at the millions of Americans watching the proceedings and those watching will have the final vote.
If tried in a court of law, the former president’s inflammatory remarks, which date back many months and his call to his followers to gather in Washington D.C. to “Stop the Steal,” saying, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election.” “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!,” might have provided enough evidence to convict him of instigating a riot against the U.S. government. But the Senate trail is unlike one in a court of law. It is a political trial and enough GOP senators put party over country and voted o acquit.
The GOP senators who voted to acquit Trump might have won this battle. But this was only the first of many other battles that will be decided by voters in future elections. And like it or not, words of the former president and videos showing the storming of the Capitol will be highlighted for years by Democrats and the news media and the Republicans will not be able to stop it. History shows that it might take time but eventually truth and right wins out.
Already the GOP is imploding as their civil war between conservatives, radicals and conspiracy theorists is in its early stages.
Backers of the twice impeached president celebrated Trump’s Senate acquittal as proof that he did nothing wrong. That’s the optimal example of Fake News. It is important to remember that just because an individual is acquitted does not mean that a crime did not occur. And it’s not my left of center political leaning that has me saying that.
Here’s what the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote in a February 11 editorial: ‘‘He might be acquitted, but he won’t live down his disgraceful conduct.”… ‘‘Now his legacy will be forever stained by this violence, and by his betrayal of his supporters in refusing to tell them the truth. Whatever the result of the impeachment trial, Republicans should remember the betrayal if Mr. Trump decided to run again in 2024.” And in her February 13-14 WSJ column, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan wrote, “Those who acquit are voting for a lie.”
The similarities of Trump’s efforts to undermine our democracy and his followers storming of the Capitol are eerily familiar to students of the Nazi’s rise in pre-war Germany. For those not familiar with the rise of Nazism in Germany, I suggest boning up on the subject. The behavior of Adolf Hitler in destroying democracy in Germany and Donald John Trump’s attempt to do so here are like peas in a pod.
Long after all who have lived during the Trump administration have died, his crimes will be recorded in history books. His evils will never be forgotten or forgiven, nor should they. And the Republican Party that denied what they experienced and witnessed will be known for generations as the Party Without Shame.
About the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or email@example.com.