Lawyers for the former president are saying the impeachment trial is just political theater. Donald Trump didn’t really mean for all those people to march to the Capitol and break into the chambers in the middle of business and tear things up and even kill people.
If we’re talking theater, let’s talk fantasy. Like Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham saying we should just not watch the videos of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. Move on, they say.
Others want to continue to sell the idea that those whose language and ruthless glee at inflicting terror and pain on police officers and elected officials and their staff employees was the justifiable actions of patriots.
Fantasies are so American. Inflated, self-aggrandizing fantasies that were demonstrated so well by their hero who became president because of his theatrical audacity.
What happened on Jan. 6 was not America’s Funniest Home videos. It was not for laughs, but a lot of those attending were obviously having a wonderful time. A replay of the Boston Tea Party, perhaps.
But let’s get real. This was a horror story. This was the live production of How to Overthrow Democracy. It was intended to be a coup, putting in place a self-perpetuating white nationalist dictatorship.
Tuesday morning, Jon Meacham, prize-winning presidential historian and respected journalist summed up the situation in this country as the impeachment trial – number two – of Donald Trump was beginning.
Meacham said the actions of the insurrectionists are the result of Americans looking the other way on the issues of slavery and immigration in the 1850s. It cost the Whigs their party and gave rise to the Republicans, who were then the champions of abolishing slavery and promoting equal opportunities.
In failing to deal with the issues of racial divisions, Meacham said, the pot of resentment simmered for generations.
Xenophobia against races and immigrants are still here, in the anger and frustration of those we saw in the attack on the Capitol.
If it is ignored now, the door is left open to continued attacks on the essential ideal of a country of liberty for all under laws, rather than personalities — and unrealistic, selfish fantasies. Act now and we certify we are a country that will change with the times, and the real world, participating as a leader.
Right wing insurrectionists are carrying on the denial of a truth they hate — that America is no longer and never again will be a predominantly white nation.
It will from now on be a nation of increasingly diverse racial, ethnic, religious peoples, many of them with ideals about justice and education that are more like what our forebears hoped for their heirs than those who now resist the inevitability of change.
Republicans are in a bind. If they tell truth to power, they will be voted out of office in the next primary back home. Donations will dry up. Invitations to the good life will cease. So now that the hearings are under way, they are virtually hiding under their desks, trying to avoid responsible action. They know what is right; they just don’t want to face it.
The nation is divided in a way foreseen by President Harry Truman. Meacham said Truman’s concern was that America would become a polarized nation of partisans — liberals in one party and conservatives in the other, increasingly adversarial, rather than having a range of ideologies within each party to maintain balance and reason.
Reason seems hard to come by. Some are arguing that the attacks on law and order and the Constitution on Jan. 6 — and in the weeks leading up to that day — are not pertinent; don’t look at it anymore. Get over it.
The Republican right wants to jump ahead, not look back. Get through the next primary election, or the next excuse to bash those bad liberals. That’s not vision, not leadership.
The Democrats and moderates want to get this over with and move on, too, but know unfinished business is like a cat’s litter box. It has a way of staying with you and stinking up the place.
Too bad the Republicans didn’t do the right thing the first time Trump was impeached.
Dean Minnich, who retired from a career in journalism and served two terms as a county commissioner, writes from Westminster. His column runs Thursdays. Email him at Dminnichwestm@gmail.com.