What a debacle, a series of terrible miscalculations and awful judgment exhibited by all sides of the political divide in America. It has all the markings of a banana republic.
Who put into President Trump’s head the preposterous idea that the Vice-President has the right to reject the votes of state certified electors? Whoever did is guilty of malpractice or worse. The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution authorizes the Vice President (in his capacity as President of the Senate) to “open all the certificates” as provided by the States, and then the votes are counted. How that can be construed as certifying, confirming or being allowed to reject said certificates is a mystery. That the President believed whoever told him that reflects poorly on him.
As stated before, President Trump did not incite or cause an insurrection – the guilty are the perpetrators – but as president he bears responsibility for whatever happens on his watch, especially when, based on the previous paragraph, the rally itself was pointless. Nothing he said can be fairly interpreted as a crime or as dispatching a small mob (most of the participants in the rally went home, so by last summer’s standards, what happened could be called a “mostly peaceful protest”). President Trump showed appalling judgment in not denouncing the attack in real time, something that might have inhibited some of the protesters. The mob should be punished, like all mobs, and politicians of all stripes should denounce political violence of all sorts even when committed by their own supporters. The attack was a horrible stain on American democracy.
That stain was deepened by the subsequent reaction, including the bans on the free speech of a variety of individuals, including the President, by private companies that benefit from federal regulations that insulate them from liability. That is an evil wind coursing through American society. The ease with which basic freedoms can be suppressed – and the past year has seen the heavy hands of government and major corporations crushing fundamental liberties – should frighten every American, and every citizen of the free world. What happens in America sets an example for the world. It is not only that the world’s dictators are laughing at the dysfunctional American government but more that governments that look to America for democratic guidance will now feel emboldened to repress their populations whenever it suits them.
Worse is the sham impeachment that took place, something vindictive and absurd. The motivation for impeachment and conviction should be removal of someone unfit from office. A President who is days away from leaving office who cannot be “removed” from office should not be subject to impeachment. The argument that the Democrats seek to bar him from ever running again doesn’t hold water. As I read the Constitution (Article I, Section 3), impeachment and conviction “shall not extend further than to removal from Office and disqualification to hold or enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.” (This assumes that political office is one of “honor, trust or profit.” Well, maybe profit.) More to the point, such “disqualification” is a consequence of “removal.” It doesn’t stand alone, otherwise it would permit Congress to impeach and try any politician simply to exclude them from seeking office.
For example, could a Republican Congress have impeached Joe Biden in 2018, two years after he left office, for a High Crime (having been credibly accused of rape), only to prevent him from running in 2020? Such a thought is ludicrous or Richard Nixon could have been impeached even after he resigned in 1974. (Pardons are ineffective against impeachments [Article II, Section 2]). As a constitutional enthusiast, I look forward to this being litigated in the courts.
Worst of all is an impeachment without an investigation, hearing, witnesses, testimony or any resembling a fair trial. The rush to judgment has all the markings of a Communist show trial. It sets such a dangerous precedent that one can look forward to impeachments whenever the House of Representatives and the White House are controlled by different parties. Since impeachment is a political act, and all presidents do something that the other party doesn’t like, impeachment can become routine, and a routine waste of time since it is unlikely that any Senate would ever convict.
And then there is something raised the other day by a Florida congressman, unwittingly channeling the Jewish legal principle of “Ain eid naaseh dayyan” (a witness cannot be the judge). A witness cannot be a judge because of the obvious lack of objectivity that engenders in the “judge.” The blurring of the roles makes fairness impossible. The House effectively sits as a Grand Jury that hands up an indictment of the president. Here the Grand Jury consisted not only of witnesses to the alleged crime but its purported victims as well! Does the victim of a crime ever sit on the jury? Of course not. Potential jurors are routinely excluded if they were ever crime victims so as not to prejudice them against the defendant, much less the victim of the crime being tried. Additionally, in impartial hearings, the accused has the right to defend himself; the rush to judgment here precluded that.
Why then did the Democrats sprint to impeachment? I don’t buy the notion of wanting to disgrace Trump as the only president ever to be impeached twice. Impeachment has lost is stigma. Bill Clinton did quite nicely for himself after his presidency, and Donald Trump won more votes in his re-election bid than in 2016. (In fact, he is the only president in history to have lost* a bid for re-election while garnering more votes than in his initial election. Go figure.) It is another line in a biography, and for as many people who feel that Trump is thereby dishonored, the same number will feel he is a wrongly persecuted hero.
My speculation is that the Democrats did this to discredit any attempt to investigate potential fraud in the past election. They will immediately respond that any such allegations instigated a treasonous attack on the Capitol and that anyone who makes the argument or raises questions is similarly treasonous. This will enable them to hasten to make mail-in ballots the norm, the simplest route to fraud.
Yes, yes, I have heard that there was “no evidence of widespread fraud,” and nothing that would “overturn the results of the election.” Here is why Trump couldn’t legally prove his case of fraud: For all the shenanigans that people testified to (mail trucks of fake ballots delivered, suitcases of ballots being brought out after hours, ballots of the dead and missing, keeping observers far away so as to render them useless, etc.), he cannot prove that those ballots were for Biden. Ipso facto, the results of the election cannot be overturned, nor is there evidence of widespread fraud. But anyone who believes that there was no fraud because the courts so ruled must also believe that OJ was innocent of double homicide. The judicial system doesn’t always get it right; it is sufficient for a civil society that it gets it right most of the time.
If the Democrats want to enshrine in law mail-in voting, you will know the fix is in. The fairest electoral system would require a national voter ID, which the Democrats have always ridiculously claimed disadvantages minorities. Why that is so is another mystery; anyone who flies on a plane has to produce identification. In Israel, every citizen has an ID number and such is presented before voting and duly recorded. This way people only vote once, and priority is given to voters who are alive. That would ensure a fair system – mail-in balloting combined with election month is a formula for perpetual mistrust of the system by one side or the other.
Of course it won’t happen. That is the price of the dysfunction and corruption that afflicts all sides of American politics today with no signs of abatement.