Profiles in Courage - Haiku - On the Eminent Satisfaction in Knowing that at least Two Members of Congress still have Principles and Honor
Sometimes a moment
arrives just when it's needed;
Thank you, Mitt Romney.
Spoiler alert: I'll be discussing American politics, so bail now if you choose. ;-)
Like many Americans, I have found the Trump presidency to be an abysmal and depressing departure from anything resembling normalcy, burdening our nation and populace with a White House occupant who acts with an appalling mixture of flagrant hatemongering, incessant lies and obfuscations, a remarkable lack of knowledge or understanding of anything his job actually entails, and plain old bad manners, just for starters.
And, having been raised by parents who believed strongly in the inherent goodness of our country and our populace, and in doing our civic duty to the best of our ability, I find myself grateful that neither lived long enough to see the travesty that Trump has made of our political process, our Congress, and the Republican party.
As a result of their example, I took it upon myself to volunteer to be a poll-sitter during the 1972 presidential election, when I had just turned fourteen years of age, and thus not yet old enough to vote. It was important to me to do my part to see to it that our political process was sound and fair.
My job as a poll sitter, volunteering for my chosen candidate, George McGovern, was to cross out the names of every Democratic voter as they arrived and entered the voting booth. It was not my job to engage them, or to ask them for whom they voted, and so I did not.
I am grateful that I was old enough to understand what was happening, roughly two years later, during the Nixon Watergate hearings, and had many deep and meaningful conversations with my family about what it all meant. As a family, we all watched with fascination as it unfolded on our television screens, and others across the nation.
I was also grateful when Nixon, who had already been informed by members of his own party that he would be impeached and removed from office for his part in the cover-up, was honorable enough to resign. I recall a conversation with my father, after our new President Ford quickly pardoned Nixon, and my father was incensed, strongly believing that Nixon should have been criminally charged for his actions.
At the time, we still had troops in Vietnam, my sisters and several of my friends had friends and family members who had not come back, and anti-war protests, sometimes violent, were still fairly common. My take was that our country had been through enough, that we should allow Nixon's pardon to stand, and simply go about the business of bringing our divided nation back together once more.
And, grudgingly at first, my father agreed.
Please keep in mind that Nixon's crimes, while egregious, in no way rose to the level of the crimes that Trump has not only committed, but admitted to openly and repeatedly, on camera. Trump's crimes were far, far worse, and I strongly believe that he will continue to self-impeach for as long as he is in office.
I've written before of my first real exposure to Donald Trump, during some interview in 1982 or very early 1983, when my mother, sister and I all came away with the strong feeling that here was a man who cared for nothing but himself, and used other people for his own ends, regularly.
I never did like "reality TV," so when "The Apprentice" debuted, I never watched even a single episode. I had better things to do with my time.
I did not know at that point the long and storied history of the Trump family's constant lawbreaking, tax evasion, and skipping out on paying their contractors, but as one of his businesses failed after the next, it began to be common knowledge that all his claims of being a great businessman, not to mention a billionaire, were clearly bunk.
So when Trump announced his candidacy, I wasn't particularly concerned, as I assumed that others would also be able to see through the hype to the slimeball beneath it all. But, unfortunately, the man is a wily slimeball, and a lot of people choose to be gullible.
For the record, I am not exempting myself in that last statement. I've been taken in more than once by people that, in retrospect, I should have known better than to trust. But we are all human, and therefore, imperfect.
And so, Trump is our president, and despite being clearly unfit for office, provably guilty of the charges for which he was impeached, not to mention repeatedly guilty of gross dereliction of duty; today our senate has effectively crowned him king, by refusing to do their sworn duty to uphold the rule of law and our Constitution, and instead voting to acquit.
So thank you, Republican senators, for proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that any conscience, honor, ethics or moral compass you may have once had are history, as your cowardice in the face of a Twitter-bullying mean girl of a president has eclipsed your love and sense of duty toward your oaths of office, our Constitution, and your fellow Americans. Shame on the spineless lot of you.
You have all, with a single exception, disgraced yourselves by insisting on a sham trial, and have emboldened the most brazenly unlawful and morally unfit president in our history.
History will hold you to account.
Yet, despite that, I am hopeful. And for that, I have to thank a whole host of authors, commentators and comics over the years, who have made me think, consider and laugh, therefore maintaining a semblance of sanity in the face of the madness which surrounds us all.
But more to the point, during the impeachment itself, two men rose to the top, showing by example what a principled and cogent argument looks like: Congressman Adam Schiff, and Senator Mitt Romney.
Being a native of Los Angeles, I cannot say how proud I am of the brilliant, understated and effective management of the House Impeachment Inquiry under the direction of Adam Schiff.
Yes, there are things I wish that they had done differently, yes I wish they had included the blatantly obvious charge of Obstruction of Justice, for a start; but considering the extreme divisions in our Congress as it stands, as well as the gross dereliction of duty in the flesh that is Senator Mitch McConnell, I believe that the House did a masterful job with what they had.
His closing arguments are a thing of beauty, effective, well reasoned and thoughtfully presented, and will be studied by historians for generations to come.
Never in our history has a president simply refused to abide by the rule of law, or the lawful subpoenas of documents and witnesses by the House, as specifically allowed and directed by our Constitution.
But then, never before have we had a Senate that so flatly refused to rise above their personal interests and party affiliations to do their frigging jobs.
And, of course, we have never had a president who rose to the extreme level of criminality of Donald Trump, which makes the Senate's refusal to reign Trump in all the more egregious.
And the most frustrating thing is that, while we do actually still have Republican members of the House and Senate who know right from wrong, they are so cowed by our criminal president that they are terrified to act, and choose to fold rather than to risk facing his mean girl tweets. It is beyond shameful.
But, as I alluded to in my haiku, sometimes a moment comes that redefines what has been happening in new, uncompromising, and hopeful terms. Today such a moment occurred.
When Mitt Romney ran for president, I didn't take him all that seriously either, as Ive disagreed with him on policy issues far more than we've agreed, and I wasn't crazy about his vision for what America should be.
But, in all the years he has been on my radar, I have never once considered him to be anything but a man of principle, albeit in a sometimes milquetoast sort of way.
Today Senator Romney proved me wrong.
Not only is he a man of honor, honesty and principle, but today he gave us a living, breathing profile in courage, speaking truth to power in the person of Donald Trump, while telling us . . . and the world . . . why he had no choice but to uphold his oath of office, and vote to convict and remove Trump from office.
Thank you, Mitt Romney, for being a voice of reason in our governmental sea of ignominy. Thank you for being a man of uncompromising morals, reason, and honor.
Like many Americans, I love my country, but have long distrusted my government.
But, thanks to the courageous and principled stances taken by Adam Schiff and Mitt Romney, both of whom put aside what was easy in order to do what was right, they have renewed my faith that it is still possible to have politicians who care more for their oaths of office than they do for being popular.
Profiles in Courage indeed. I yield the floor.
The lovely sunset above I took with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphone this past November, looking from our front porch toward the road, on my lovely Bear boy's birthday.
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