We are watching something unique in American history. Trials of impeachment in the United States Senate are not common. This is the third time in American history. However, what we are watching is something else. This is the first time in American history that the party the president is a member of is also in charge of the trial at the Senate.
Republicans are afraid of what could come if more evidence, or witnesses, were brought to the Senate. They are afraid of the president and his use of Twitter. This is not a fun thing when your party leader stands accused of using the presidency for his own benefit. This is what makes this process even rarer. President Donald Trump was impeached in his first term, and the Senate is controlled by his party.
The Senate is supposed to be the place where passions are less. Why? Part of it is that Senators have six years terms, which means they are supposedly more insulated from the passions of the day. Some Senators, a third, are up for reelection in 2020. And some have made it crystal clear that they do not care what the evidence shows. They already said that the president did nothing wrong. They do not care that this starts to make the president more like a king, who is above the law, not under it.
Democrats are opening this case with both evidence they were able to gather, and a constitutional argument. However, many of their Republican counterparts are not paying attention. Why? Partly it is fear. They know that if they turn against the president, the base will turn on them in short order. And while the president has not been able to grow that base, they are still vocal and powerful, especially in a few states.
Also, like their Democratic counterparts, Republicans live in information silos. Theirs have repeated the mantra that the president did nothing wrong, and this is a witch-hunt. For some members of the Senate, this is the first time they are hearing the full evidence. And like many republicans, I suspect Democrats will tune the defense off, and as silly as it may sound, in a court of law you are supposed to listen to both sides.
This is a consequence of a fractured media environment where people seek information they agree with and ignore all else. Members of our legislative bodies do the same as the rest of us in a fractured highly partisan era. However, Republicans act as if they are above any consequence.
There are some dark thoughts that run through my mind. After all, either Republicans are trapped so deeply in their silos that they do not realize it. Or they know something the rest of us may suspect. I rarely voice thoughts that may seem on the surface conspiratorial, but other actions by Republicans make me suspicious.
The first may come from the average age of members of the Senate. This is the necessary cyber-security bills to protect our elections. They resist, and it may come from a lack of understanding of how this works. Or how vulnerable our elections, and infrastructure, are to less than honorable actors.
Let’s be clear. Election manipulation is not new. In American history, we have had periods when elections were all but clean. 1876, for example, had ballot boxes floating down the river. And we have had voter suppression for a long time. They come in a variety of ways, but it is a reality.
Could Republicans have a lack of fear of the voters because they expect the manipulation of the vote? Could we be at the point where a party is determined to keep power by any means possible? If so, we are in a very dangerous moment in American history.
Let me be clear. My attitude on this is to always vote, even if this is to remain in practice. And if enough people vote, it is hard to credibly manipulate elections. However, electronic manipulation is easier, why we must insist on a return to paper ballots.
There is a reality though. Paper ballots will make the count slower, so we may take a little longer to find out who got elected for what. While we may believe they cannot be futzed with, they can. Ballot boxes can still be stuffed or sent down the river. So we must be always alert to make sure our elections are secured.
We also must fight the mythologies around elections. Do people vote many times? Yes. But the number in modern times is so small, literally, it can be countered in the fingers of both hands. This means less than ten. It was a reality in the past, where this myth comes from. Older people likely remember grandpa talking about that, when it was far more common.
However, from talking to people around the country, on all stripes. I suspect Republicans are in for a surprise. The president has not grown his base. And many Americans are disgusted by the apparent cover-up.
Yes, Trump supporters are as rabid as ever. There are many reasons why people voted for Trump. It ranges from social anxiety to status loss fear. In a few cases, it was economic, far less than originally thought. Some voted the way they did because the system is broken. And they thought a hand grenade would change things. It has, but not the way they wanted. Those people are mostly sorry and have peeled off.
Given any logical view of the process, Republicans in general, and the president, in particular, should not do well in November. The polls tell us that even with a good economy people are getting tired of this. As of now, Trump should lose against almost all Democrats. Even in State Polls, while closer, this is still the case. Mind you, it’s early still. However, there is a chance that the party is behaving in this craven manner because they know they will win regardless. And in some places, they are utterly correct. Trump and local politicians could kill somebody on fifth avenue, and the election will go their way in deeply red states. Some places of the country it’s a reverse scenario. With the electoral college, the election will be decided in seven to ten states.
This makes targeting specific counties a way to flip an election. With cybersecurity being what it is, this is not out of the realm of possibility. In 2004 this may have happened in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. We never got to the true depths of it, but election integrity activists point to this often.
So the dark though is with me. Are Republicans no longer afraid of elections? Are we living in a nation where elections are just an exercise to pretend legitimacy?
Whether you think this is the case, or not…even this can be overcome. People need to vote in massive numbers. But we also need to be willing to defend our democracy, as weak as it seems. What is happening today is hardly unprecedented in American history.
Those who benefit from an oligarchy will do all they can to push the people of the role placed on them by the Founders. Despair is not the answer. If you must, vote to remain in practice. But be prepared to defend your fundamental rights.
Will the Senate acquit? Of course, they will. At this point, the president could kill somebody on fifth avenue on national television. It does not matter to his party. All that matters is power. And more evidence emerges every day tying his party to the scandal. So the elections in November must also be a cleansing moment for American politics. Those who are willing to subvert themselves to a king…must be voted out. That is the only remedy to what ails us.