An Open letter to the United States Senate: re: Impeachment Trial

Senate Republicans have openly stated their intentions to acquit President Trump based on their assertion that the charges do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. Thus far, they have refused to allow witnesses to be called.

Critics are correct that impeachment of any president is an awful thing. It is also understood that Republicans are fearful that removing President Trump from office will strike a blow to the advancement of his platform, as there are many political issues about which people feel strongly and were the reasons many people voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

Other than an election, however, impeachment is the only recourse available to the American people and their elected representatives, to hold accountable a president—any president—who demonstrates a willingness to set aside the principles and traditions of democracy for the advancement of his or her own personal agenda.

If either the Senate or the people choose to turn their heads, their silence amounts to tacit approval of that President’s actions. Given a free run, so to speak, is no one worried about how far this President would go?

Whether the fate of President Trump is left in the hands of the Senate or American voters, does not obviate the need for those decision-makers to have seen the full body of  evidence before casting their votes.

Since there is reason to believe that witnesses are available who might further incriminate or exonerate President Trump, it appears to this American that, in the grand scheme of things, the principles of truth and justice trump the political issues, if you will pardon the pun.

Over the life of the American republic, leaders of other nation’s must have pondered the question, “What is to prevent an American president from refusing to leave office after losing an election or after an impeachment?” One might expect that an authoritarian president—one who believes himself to be ordained to lead a nation out of crisis—might be inclined to seize and utilize any power they have been given.

Democracy and autocracy are separated by the thinnest of membranes and it is only the will of the people that preserves the former.

With respect to the Impeachment of President Donald Trump, it boils down to several questions, beginning with:

“Do the American people need to hear the evidence?” and,

“Is the United States Senate going to protect or deny their right to hear it?”

The bigger questions are:

“Can we allow this or any president to put their own interests above that of the nation, whatever we think of his or her policies?” and,

“Do we need a president who divides a nation or one who rallies the American people around a common purpose?”

Today, the battle lines have been carved so deeply into the ground it seems improbable that conservatives, moderates, and liberals can work together to solve the great challenges we face as a democratic society, in a troubled world.

Make no mistake, the outcome of this impeachment trial will determine far more than the term of a single president and survival of his administration. It will determine whether we continue to be a nation of principles and law or one governed solely by power.

Remember, always, democracy requires a balance between freedom and responsibility.

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