Updated: Feb 13, 2021
While every other major network televised the impeachment trial live, I turned to see how our local FOX affiliate was covering the event, but “Family Feud” was on instead – ironic, to say the least. (I assume, of course, that FOX NEWS was covering the event.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, the Constitution does not have the word “us” in it, which is a good thing, because as soon as there’s an “us,” there inevitably always ends up being a “them.” And whenever it becomes us and them, it inevitably becomes us vs them, which becomes a euphemism, too often, for good vs evil. And when that happens, a mere family feud can become something much, much worse.
For a lot of very good reasons, I’ve been reluctant to enter into the political fray, but little events and minor coincidences have prompted me to enter into a place where even angels fear to tread (and who can blame them?). I’m reminded of something that Martin Luther once said about the role of Christians in a culture:
If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
All of which means that, at least in the short run, this whole impeachment trial of Donald Trump has the feel of a highly earnest but futile attempt at prosecuting the former President. It is Kabuki theater. But the short run isn’t what history cares about. The audience for this trial aren’t those of us alive today, but our posterity. No matter how much anyone may want to debate the legitimacy of this trial, the outcome will be judged by our posterity, not by us, but with this important caveat: it will only be judged by our posterity if we allow our Democracy to continue. If we don't, and we allow the insurrectionists to get away with what they did and with what our former President did in inciting them to such action, we will get what we deserve as a country: subsequent insurrections whenever an election is called and certified. Just like the Taliban won in the 9/11 attack by changing our lives forever when it comes to boarding planes, gathering in large groups, and traveling overseas, so the insurrectionists will win if Trump is acquitted. We will have armed guards around the Capitol, police stationed at every state capitol, and small insurrections from an armed militia becoming as common as school shootings.
If you've not read the history of 1930s Germany and Italy, I commend it for this reason alone: it helps you understand what happens when a large portion of an electorate becomes mesmerized by a demagogue who stokes atavist impulses, flames buried prejudices, and has a special talent for whipping up mob allegiance. The trouble for all his supporters, of course, is that a man like Donald Trump only cares for himself and his grip on power. Most of his lieutenants who, at one time or another, were praised by the former POTUS, were as quickly tossed out and subsequently demonized when they dared to disagree with their Dear Leader and his distorted versions of the truth.
Shame on all of us who don’t see this impeachment trial and its outcome for what it actually is: the last gasps of a struggling democracy to keep its head above water. If we aren’t committed to hold Donald Trump accountable for what he clearly incited (does anyone seriously think the attack on the Capitol would have happened if Trump hadn't invited them to D.C. on the 6th to "Stop the Steal" and told them to march to the Capitol to "fight like hell"?), then what started as a family feud may very well devolve into a civil war. And if this does happen, none of us should be surprised. It wasn't like we weren't warned.