Monday: The Iowa circus.
Tuesday: The State of the Union address by President Donald J. Trump. He appears to ignore House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handshake right from the start. She finishes the evening by ripping up his speech for all to see.
Wednesday: Trump is acquitted by the Senate and will remain in power. No witnesses were called in his trial.
Take a deep breath. What a week. Did we mention it’s only Wednesday? And in case you forgot: A president who broke the law remains in power.
Don’t take it from us, though. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, said Trump violated law when the White House withheld military aid to Ukraine in an effort to hurt a political rival, after both chambers of Congress and the president approved the funds.
But that’s not really the question, is it? We know he broke the law. The facts are clear. The question really is: Does the punishment fit the crime?
Several Republican senators have explained their acquittal vote by admitting Trump acted inappropriately but should not be removed from office. Sen. Marcio Rubio (R-FL) said, “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office.”
You can hear the tap dancing around a vote to convict from a mile away. In today’s polarized nation, there’s no room for dissenters. You fall in line with the party. At this particular moment in time, the Republican party is Trump.
Most of America, falling in the center and tired of partisan tricks, loses out in the meantime.
It was evident that Republicans didn’t really care to find the truth when they voted against calling witnesses. It is common sense that a trial by jury in this country involves witnesses, experts or sources who were closely involved in the alleged misconduct. But not when it comes to Trump.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attempted to force the chief justice to name the whistleblower on live TV. If only he could go after the perpetrator of the misconduct with the same energy that he goes after the law-abiding civil servant who blew the whistle on the most powerful person in the world.
And so, we go forward.
Think for a minute. If a president is able to remain in power after being caught red-handed using taxpayer dollars for his own electoral prospects, what else would said president feel emboldened to do? And would he get away with it again?
What if Ukraine was, for example, a teacher’s union? What if Trump had withheld money earmarked for public education on the condition of an endorsement from a major teacher’s union? This is serious.
Without members of Congress hellbent on exercising their broad oversight powers to ensure a transparent, accountable and lawful executive branch, the nature of our system of checks and balances will eventually crumble and evaporate before our eyes.
This is just the start to a surely chaotic, and downright messy, 2020. But make no mistake about it — with absolute certainty and clarity, the eyes of the world and of history are on us.
The state of our union hangs in the balance.