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.

A Nation Divided will Remain Divided after Trump Loses

As a consequence of his own self-destructive behavior, hopefully, Donald Trump has doomed his chances of winning this November’s election. That is the good news.

The bad news is that even if he loses this November’s election, Donald Trump and his supporters will not be going anywhere. Trump has given voice to a deeply angry and embittered population of Americans who not only believe that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are evil but also believe they are destroying our country. This population of Americans have shown a willingness to believe each and every ridiculous accusation made against Obama and Clinton and if Trump says it loud and often enough his followers will want to believe; it doesn’t matter whether or not it is true. Donald Trump is their champion because he is an authoritarian outsider who uses his platform to say everything his supporters have wanted to say but could find no one to listen. Well, people are listening now.

We need to be reminded of the fact that just a few short months ago, Bernie Sanders had an equally vehement population of supporters who were expressing their own anger and frustration about the status quo in Washington. Both movements illustrate how deeply divided we have become as a nation and as a free people. Fortunately, the Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters are at opposite ends of political spectrum because if they were able to find issues around which they could coalesce they could well have a clear majority of American voters.

Add the division that separates white Americans from blacks and other minorities, the division between the rich and poor, and between many Christians and people of other religions, particularly Muslims, and the chasm that divides us seems even more ominous.

What does it say about a democracy that so many of its people are bitterly unhappy with their government? How can democracy survive if American voters are so divided that common ground cannot be found?

What makes Donald Trump so scary is a combination of his ignorance of the Constitution of the U.S. and his willingness to dismiss that Constitution. Democracy is not a fact of nature rather it is a fragile state of equilibrium that exists between freedom and responsibility; an equilibrium for which the American people have always been willing to work hard to protect. It requires that we be able to compromise on issues about which we disagree and that all parties be willing to sacrifice a little of their personal freedom for the betterment of the whole.

Part of Trump’s appeal to the disaffected is that, as an authoritarian outsider, he professes a willingness to force his will on other people in order to make America great again. This is the way he has run his businesses and it seems this might also be the way he has pursued women. It should come as no surprise that he believes he can run the nation the same way he runs his businesses.

The greatest threat to democracy would be the election of a President in possession of a powerful ego and what he believes to be a clear mandate to make things happen; a President who is willing to disregard the actions of both the Congress and the judiciary. It would require a President who believes that he, alone, can decide what is best for the American people.

That sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump. As I have said in previous posts, this is the scariest thing that has happened in my lifetime and poses a far greater threat to our way of life than terrorism.

Nearly 20 years ago, I began to worry about what could happen if the issues that divide us were to become intractable and I tried to envision what that would mean to the American people and to our democratic form of government. I began writing a book about how things could go horribly wrong if this trend were to continue. I finished that book fifteen years later and published it in 2013. It is a novel entitled, Light and Transient Causes, about what could happen if the American people were to become so angry and frustrated as to elect an authoritarian outsider to the Office of the President on the basis of his promise to make America great again, at any cost.

Because it shows how quickly things could go bad, Light and Transient Causes is a book Americans should read if they are fearful of where we could be headed. As one reviewer wrote, “It’s chilling in the sense that it is all possible in the world we live in today.”

Ironically, the words “light and transient causes,” which were taken from the Declaration of Independence, were prominently displayed behind the candidates of recent presidential and vice presidential debates. I invite the reader to check the book out.

The Danger of Donald Trump

As far back as twenty years ago, I became concerned that our nation was losing its sense of purpose and that the American people had begun to take democracy for granted. Democracy is a delicate concept that requires an equilibrium between freedom and responsibility. For democracy to work, people must share the same or at least a similar vision for our nation and its people. They must be willing and able to find common ground—a solution with which all parties can live.

When views become so disparate and extreme that people are unable to forge amenable agreements, democracy is put to a severe test. This is what we have seen in recent years with a Congressional gridlock where the best Congress can do is pass temporary legislation to hold off a government shutdown for a few weeks or months. Passing substantive legislation has become problematic, so great is the discord in Congress. This is also what happens when the focus of the principal players is to attack their opposition rather be a positive advocate for their own platform. It is a lack of positive leadership.

It has taken me 2 weeks to sort through my thoughts and feelings while watching parts of the Republican convention. I must confess that I could not make myself watch more than snippets of the major speeches during the convention. The rhetoric was simply too. . . . I cannot seem to come up with a word that accurately describes the disgust, fear, and even anguish of watching the Republic Party’s candidate for the Presidency of the United States calling people names, insulting their character, pandering to the racism and hatred in the minds of so many Americans, and making absurd promises that only the most gullible adults could believe. As I have written before, Donald Trump is the antithesis of positive leadership.

What I have come to realize is that watching Donald Trump at the Republican Convention is the scariest thing I have seen in my lifetime. It is not simply the things he says or the way he bullies people but something far more subtle but at the same time more profound. Donald Trump and many of the people who support him seem willing to trample the rights of people of whom they do not approve or with whom they do not agree. There is a viciousness to it that says no one matters but me and mine. This is hardly a recipe for democracy.

Throughout my lifetime, there has been simple concept that I have heard in many contexts and stated in many different ways that says “everyone counts or no one counts.” Is there anyone on God’s Earth that you would be willing to grant the power to pick and choose to whom we should extend the protections of the Constitution of the United States as delineated in the Bill of Rights?

During the entire Obama administration, attacks against our nation’s President have been nothing short of virulent and the overwhelming majority of the accusations are absurd and found to be untrue by any of the independent fact-checking services. The same is true of Hillary Clinton. You do not see Donald Trump attacking her ideas and accomplishments rather you see him brand her as a liar, much as he did with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio during the primary elections.

Our focus in determining to whom we wish to give our vote for President of the United States should be looking at their body of work and their overall integrity. In doing so we need to keep in mind that the longer one has been in public life or business the more mistakes they will have made and the more misstatements will have been uttered. It is simply a reflection of the fact that none of us are perfect, not even our candidates for the Presidency.

When we compare Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump you have two extremes in terms of career activity and objectives. Hillary Clinton has spent most of her life in some form of public service, whether working as a community activist or as a public official. Donald Trump has spent all of his life focused on his business interests. Both career choices are noble. If they are to be judged they can only be judged on the basis of the number and types of victims left in the wake of their respective careers.

Measuring overall integrity is problematic but what we can measure is the relative truthfulness of the two candidates. Truthfulness may not be the same thing as integrity but it is certainly a reflection of integrity.

Recently, Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact checking service that spares no one, found that 55 percent of Trump’s public statements were “false” which Politifact defines as “not accurate” and half of those received Politifact’s “Pants on Fire” rating which is defined as “A statement that is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.” (

This is compared to 13 percent of Hillary Clinton’s statements that were found to be “false” and only 2 percent of her statements were judged as “Pants on Fire.” (

Looking at the two candidates from the perspective of truth, 72 percent of Hillary Clinton’s public statements have been judged to be “mostly true” compared to 29 percent of Donald Trump’s public statements.

If he acts true to form, one would expect Donald Trump to declare that Politifact is “unfairly biased against him.” It seems only fair to point out that other Republican candidates such as Jeb Bush and John Kasich were found by Politifact to be truthful roughly 70 percent of the time. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, by the way, were found to be 35 percent and 59 percent truthful, respectively. Bernie Sanders was truthful 72 percent of the time and had no “pants on fire” falsehoods.

In case you are wondering, President Barack Obama, according to Politifact, is mostly truthful 75 percent of the time, compared to Rush Limbaugh, who was found to be truthful only 17 percent of the time. I point that out only because so many of the outrageous accusations against President Obama and Hillary Clinton were originally voiced by radio and other talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. That people are so willing to believe such people says a lot about Twenty-first Century America.

The rude surprise that awaits Donald Trump is that, should he be elected, his authoritarian approach will face the same gridlock as his predecessors. The only way he can implement any of the ideas reflected in his campaign promises would be if he were to circumvent or otherwise subvert the democratic process. This, my friends, is what makes Donald Trump so scary.

If the differences that divide the American people continues to expand, it is only a matter of time until someone like Donald Trump is elected to the Presidency who believes they have sufficient power to impose their will on the American people and the democratic process. This would mean the end of the American democracy as we know it.

When I began to grow concerned, twenty years ago, I began writing a novel about how things could go horribly wrong if we were to lose our faith in democracy and elect an authoritarian outsider to the Presidency on the basis of his pledge to restore domestic peace and prosperity (make America great again) at any cost. My novel, entitled Light and Transient Causes, was published in 2013. I encourage the reader to check it out. If we want to prevent something like this from happening we must understand just how bad things could be if we abandon our faith in democracy. You can check my novel out at