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Donald Trump is impeached. He has now set two records: He is the first president to be impeached twice, and the first president to shatter the unbroken American history of the peaceful transfer of power. He has shown no remorse for his actions and he should be removed from office, even if it is 10 minutes before noon on Jan. 20, if that is all that is available.
The president’s supporters, however, now plead for understanding and inclusion, for lowering the temperature, for moving on. In speech after speech Wednesday on the floor of the House, the same Republicans who had no objections to the president’s incitement to insurrection now have deep concerns about parliamentary process, the rule of law and national unity.
This is moral charlatanism and I say to hell with it.
It is almost impossible to comprehend the sheer moral poverty of the people calling now for unity. Elected Republicans now admit they fear for their physical safety from their own constituents, but instead of thunderous defenses of the Constitution, we have soft mewling from people like Sen. Marco Rubio and his Bible-Verse-A-Day tweets, or the head-spinning duplicity of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who within days of saying “count me out” of any further sedition was jollying it up with the president on Air Force One.
The gold medal for hypocrisy should probably go to Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, who demanded that Biden “show some grace,” that he “call on Democrats to stand down,” and that he “practice the healing” he and Kamala Harris promised during the campaign. “Why won’t he?” Strassel whined.
What Trump’s defenders lack in honesty, self-awareness or patriotism, they certainly make up for with pure, weapons-grade chutzpah. (I would rather use a word referring to a common substance found on ranches that Ronald Reagan once described as one with “deep roots in our rich agricultural and farming tradition,” but this is a family newspaper.)
It would be easier and less stressful simply to forget about Trump’s enablers and sycophants in this moment. Perhaps that is the best course of action, to allow the market and public opinion to determine the future of oleaginous courtiers like Strassel and the many others trying to shift the blame and move out of the cloud of Trump’s seditious stink.
Protesters on Jan. 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
But what should we do among ourselves as ordinary citizens? A decent, functioning democracy requires an explicit commitment to constitutional principles. We have had enough violence and rancor among us, and we need no further confrontations in the ranks of the American family. We have a new president coming, and we owe him a chance to govern. (This, by the way, is exactly what I said four years ago when President Trump was elected.)
This is also, however, a time for moral clarity. The distance Trump created between American citizens cannot be bridged by bad-faith negotiation or indiscriminate forgiveness. There is no space for “mutual” reconciliation between sedition and loyalty. The people who have supported Trump need to come to terms with what they’ve done and with what they’ve allowed to happen — or it will happen again.
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Remove Trump now:Trump doesn’t deserve post-presidential benefits. Remove him and ensure he won’t get them.
Most Trump voters are as appalled as anyone else at the violence at the Capitol, but only 31% of Republicans hold Trump responsible for what happened on Jan. 6. Fortunately, House GOP conference chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming is among them, along with nine other Republicans who voted with the 232-197 House majority to impeach, but she and they are now in the minority of their own party. Republicans might be shocked by what Trump instigated at the Capitol — but they are not so disturbed that they wouldn’t vote for him again. Over90% of Trump’s voters would put him right back in the Oval Office for four years.
Average Trump voters do not share the guilt of the rioters. They did not come to Washington, they did not plot against the government, and they did not kill Officer Brian Sicknick. But they were warned, over and over, that Trump hates the Constitution and the restrictions of the rule of law. They were warned, over and over, that Trump would stop at nothing to stay in power. And yet they cheered him on, handing him tens of millions of votes and refusing to hold him accountable for his repeated attacks on the American system of government.
These voters are not my enemies. But until they can admit that they made a dreadful mistake, until they can admit that but for one man — the one they voted to keep in the White House — none of this would have happened, their calls for “unity” and understanding mean nothing to me.
Unity begins with repentance
This is about patriotism, not politics. Trump’s partisans do not need to support Joe Biden or his policies. They do not need to start voting for Democrats (although some of them might consider voting against the seditionists from their districts). They don’t need to change their minds about taxes or political correctness or foreign policy. They don’t need to become more liberal or more multicultural.
But if they care about unity, then they need to demonstrate to the majority of their fellow citizens that they are able say just a handful of words with true commitment and meaning. As someone who opposed Trump from the moment he announced his candidacy, it would be emotionally gratifying to me to hear Trump’s supporters say “you were right” — as precious few of them have — but those are not the words I have in mind.
Boot Trump:We’re not safe while Trump is president. Remove him now to protect us and our future.
Rather, unity must begin with a recitation of a far more important acknowledgement:
“I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
Trump’s partisans will bristle and say that they always believed in those important words, but I am done exerting the effort to believe them. After Jan. 6, there is no way to utter that oath while continuing to support Donald Trump and the rebellion he encouraged against the government of the United States.
“Unity” begins with repentance, and Republicans should get started. Supporting Trump’s removal from office and instituting his permanent exile from American politics are the necessary first steps.