The second senate impeachment trial ended, unsurprisingly, with the acquittal of Donald J. Trump. The vote was 57 to convict and 43 to acquit, significantly short of the two-thirds vote required.
Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, voted against impeachment, but then boisterously attacked Trump for his conduct during the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Nancy Pelosi was quick to attack McConnell as a hypocrite for not breaking with his party. Ms. Pelosi likely forgot her own party’s partisanship. No Democratic senator broke rank with their party, while seven Republicans voted for conviction. Maybe the only surprise about the vote was that Louisiana’s Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, who earlier voted the impeachment of Trump was not constitutional, voted to convict this time around.
When prosecutors decided against calling more than one witness to the impeachment trial, it was apparent to even them that this was a show trial. They wanted to have their say and get it over. The excuse was that they did not wish to distract from the Biden early agenda for his administration.
Indeed, it appears that Joe Biden wishes to be cautious and thoughtful. He is probably already thinking about the midterm elections of 2022. Biden was Vice President when President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act. Partially as a result, the U.S. House and Senate went Republican in 2010. Biden wishes to distance himself as much as possible from Donald Trump by almost appearing dull and conventional. And following the Trump presidency, it would be difficult for him to appear otherwise. Biden, who is 78-years-old, has been a political insider for nearly 50 years. Trump won the presidency by promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
Biden’s harshest critics will continually portray his policies as merely appeasing the “radical left.” And undoubtedly, Biden did choose his running mate, Kamala Harris, as someone who would appeal to those with more progressive leanings. But Biden is also aware of how close the election of 2020 actually was. If not for the global pandemic, Trump would likely have won reelection. And even with the pandemic, Trump may still have won if he made an effort to appear more compassionate in his response. Instead, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask. What I’m saying is that Biden will have to straddle the fence of bipartisanship if he hopes to complete any portion of his agenda.
So what is to become of Donald Trump? He promises that he will be back. And he still has a small but entirely devoted group of followers. His followers were the swing votes that gave him the election in 2016. They are the ones that the pollsters, time after time, somehow managed to ignore. Finally, they showed how much importance they put upon Trump by what occurred during the Capitol riots.
As an outsider, Trump had the opportunity to make positive changes. The economy was going full hilt, and only a pandemic slowed it down. But even with the pandemic, the stock market continued to sore. Unemployment, though rising dramatically in March 2020, has come down significantly in the following months. And despite criticisms of his handling of the pandemic, neither House nor Senate Democrats saw what was coming, either.
Trump is an opportunist who, in 2016, turned negative campaigning into an art. He knows how to poke at his opponent’s vulnerabilities. Trump is willing to turn on allies who were significantly responsible for his success. The nicknames he labels his opponents with, if somewhat cruel and unfair, are usually apt. Trump has no reservations against making personal attacks.
The primary and presidential debates of 2016 had a huge television audience for reasons of entertainment. Yet Trump’s first debate with Joe Biden in 2020 was almost surreal. Hopefully, it will forever get rid of the notion that presidential debates contain an ounce of substance. Biden didn’t do all that much better in that first debate and probably lost the second debate to someone he labeled a “clown.”
The problem with it is such tactics grow old. Eventually, people saw Trump for maybe what he was all along: narcissistic. Trump remained tone-deaf to issues of race and suffering within our country. Because of his shortcomings, I hope that we do not hear about him again. I’m guessing that he will never again hold public office. Nothing below the presidency would likely satisfy him at this point in any case. And whatever his messaging may be, history will paint him as the President who watched his followers break into the Capitol. After all, we will remember James Buchanan as the President who took no action when the Confederacy overtook Fort Sumter.
I’m okay with acquitting Trump during the Senate hearing if only because it allows us to talk about other things. I’m also uncomfortable with the Senate holding impeachment hearings for an individual no longer in office. It’s an expansion upon their authority to try something never before done, and they already have too much power. But Trump also abdicated his responsibilities as well, probably since the announcement of Joe Biden’s election.
But Trump will not likely disappear, nor will his followers. We will continually hear them shout their discontent. An unsavory portion of his followers wave the Confederate flag and hold notions regarding race and immigrants all of us would be better off without. Still, some of them are also blue-collared workers that both major parties ignore. These are men and women supporting families and who feel left behind. If we are to talk about inclusiveness, we need to include them in the discussion as well.
I have not added a blog post for months hoping that events may eventually calm down enough so I could catch a breath. Maybe the calming will now occur. But we have to get beyond political leanings and the arrogance that we, whoever “we” may be, have all the right answers. Citizens of the United States need to abide by a sense of decency.
February 14, 2021