“I’m not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021. It’s not going to happen,” declared Rep. Jamie Raskin, lead prosecutor, Trump impeachment trial. In all the quotes of this historic and defining week, Raskin’s prediction, coming from a father who took on his impeachment role just weeks after the suicide death of his son, defines this moment in our unfolding democratic story. The future of this country, this republic, is on trial. It remains so given the expected but disheartening verdict rendered in the Senate Saturday.
The shock of those days now is less the assault on the Capitol itself, though who can forget the stories told by members of Congress of the mob’s pounding at the door, the threats, the rush to safety, police officers beaten, windows smashed, offices ransacked and looted. The shock is more in the weakness, the amorality, the corrupt willingness of 43 Republican senators who voted to sanction what our former president did in the days after November 3. Andrew Sullivan called it, “unprecedented, the most grotesque assault on democratic processes by a single president in history.”
We saw a President who, after months of falsehoods, of attacks on the election bedrock of a democracy, incited an angry mob, threw his vice-president under the bus, mocked a desperate call for help from the minority leader of the house. One who, hours into the Capitol building invasion, taped a call for calm, but said in the same breath to the mob inside, “We love you, you’re very special.” An English columnist had to ask, “What more would a president have to do to be found guilty?”
The duty of those 43 senators was not to that mob, not to the man who incited them, not to voters too ready to punish truth and courage at the next election, but to the democratic values that sustain us and keep alive the American dream. The 43 senators failed, they became themselves an ancillary mob in spirit, in impact.
If the history written in our tomorrows rings true, weighs the reality of their shamelessness, they will go down as the true stealers, the betrayers of democratic values and hopes, the Benedict Arnolds of their own time.