The second impeachment of former President Donald Trump was an exercise in clarification. If there was ever any doubt that Congress is motivated first and foremost by self-interest, last week’s proceedings should remove it.
What appeared to be an act of conscience on the part of a small group of senators turned out to be not quite so courageous as it appeared on the surface. Seven Republican senators, in a roll call vote, stood to convict Trump on the count of inciting an insurrection. The nation was led to applaud these persons for risking their political futures for the sake of putting their ethics and morals above personal interest, until, that is, it was revealed that six of the seven are not running for office in the next election. It’s easy to exercise one’s ethics when there’s nothing to lose. The seventh Republican is the one who deserves our admiration.
If I’m going to offer a balanced commentary, I should also point out that not one Democrat voted to acquit Trump. It seems odd that there would not be one Democratic senator who would buy the lines that Trump threw out before, during, and after the insurrection. It leads one to wonder if here, too, it was just less risky to follow the crowd and vote to convict. After all, who would blame a Democrat for voting that way?
Perhaps the most flagrant example of someone whose primary interest was in self-preservation is Senate (now Minority) Leader Mitch McConnell. Talk about straddling a line! My mind boggles: here is someone who, as expected, voted to acquit the former President when the roll was called down yonder, but who, after the vote, then stood before the nation to say that he believed Trump had committed all the crimes of which he was accused! Mr. McConnell is up for re-election. Mr. McConnell wants to stay on as a United States Republican Senator. However, he apparently doesn’t want to lose favor with voters of either party. It’s as though he’s saying, “I know that what Donald did was bad. I know that he’s the one person most responsible for allowing the attack on the Capitol to happen. I’ll admit that he did nothing to stop the mob from entering the building and only gave them a slap on the wrist after the damage was done. But, you know, I don’t think it was enough to convict him of any actual crime. So, I’m voting ‘not guilty.’”
There should be a statue erected to Mitch McConnell. And it should stand for the apex of political thinking in the United States: As long as it doesn’t threaten my career, I’ll vote my conscience. But if it’s going to cost me anything, I’ll do whatever I need to do to save my butt.”
I think it’s time for voters to hit the “Delete” button and start over.