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A moral high ground exists, but not in America

I watched the impeachment of Donald Trump.
Both times.
Each time there was a simple fact being debated in the senate as they discussed whether to convict or acquit Trump.
They failed.

As someone who has also kept up with the regular ebbs and flows of current events since before the Trump presidency, it was clear – and remains clear – that Trump did do the things he was accused of doing.

He did try to bargain with Ukraine for political means while withholding aid, and he absolutely incited the insurrection of Jan. 6 with his rhetoric.

We all know this.

When he was banned from Twitter, this is why we all felt a sense of relief.

His words and tweets dominated the news for the better part of four years, and we were all ill at ease because of it. It’s not a mystery.

And yet, his lawyers got up in front of the US Senate, mad-libbed their way through a half-assed, disingenuous argument, and the governing body voted to acquit the President following his impeachment in the house for a second time.

I have a hard time accepting that truth and accountability are so far removed from reality that this was allowed to happen.

The Court of Public Opinion

To understand the “how” and “why” we need to quickly review the past.

When Richard Nixon was being impeached, one of the overwhelming factors was not what was going on in the investigation, but what was going on in the public. It has been said that the “court of public opinion” was more important than anything else.

Trump’s team knew this and his allies Rudy Giuliani, Michael Cohen, Alan Dershowitz, and many more worked the cable news circuit to air their grievances. Their arguments were not made to the House or Senate, but to the general Public while Trump Tweeted along.

And what followed were two impeachment hearings. They were also the SHORTEST impeachment hearings in the history of the United States.

So, we knew Trump was lying, they knew Trump was lying, Trump lied, he incited, and he colluded, and yet…

The court of public opinion swayed the other way this time. Instead of a Nixon-esque impeachment where the citizens of the US were slowly educated on the President’s crimes, the process was expediated and Donald Trump maintained the support of his party.

The Republicans knew this. It’s why the impeachment trial was postponed for months. It’s why it lasted only a week, and it’s why no witnesses were called. The more evidence presented, the guiltier their guy would look. This wasn’t justice.

The Moral High Ground

In my memory, I cannot remember a President that openly directed his supporters to kill other Americans, have those orders acted upon… and then come to fruition!

Regardless of your political slant, there is a moral high ground to this impeachment trial.

The unavoidable fact is that Trump’s words and actions led to the deaths of Americans. Both directly during and after the insurrection on Jan 6 2021.

He also directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of US citizens as he downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic and refused to act – but this was not what the second impeachment proceedings focused on.

The US not taking action on COVID-19 didn’t just affect their country. Trump’s inaction allowed the virus to spread around the world via American travelers.
The fallout from Trump’s rhetoric is still infecting and killing people.

Reality Is In Question

The impeachment trials, specifically the second one, were the places we were forced to acknowledge that truth, as an idea is now questionable. We’ve heard about Kelly-Anne Conway’s “alternative facts” for years, but Trump’s lawyers made that idea a legal argument.

As viewers of the Senate impeachment hearings, we were asked to question our own memories of what happened. We were asked to challenge reality itself.

Fiction won.

The closing arguments of the Trump team suggested that it is “not true” that Trump incited or asked for violence.

What I find hard to swallow as Trump’s representative, Michael van der Veen said “many of you followed Trumps’ tweets in the months leading up to the events of January sixth, and it’s clear that it was not his intention” to cause violence, is that I was one of those people following along. Trump’s rhetoric was clearly violent, divisive, and hateful.

van der Veen’s argument hinged on the idea that Trump existed in a vacuum. That somehow his words had no impact on others and that he never specifically described the action that took place, but that just isn’t true.

You needn’t have been following Trump for years to know his defense lied. If you only started following US politics in September 2020 you would know what happened.

Recent history isn’t constitutional law. It’s not rocket science.

Truth As A Variable

Trump’s team’s argument is that the media, the law enforcement, intelligence agencies, counter-protesters, and international commenters all lied about the words Trump said. But that’s so incredibly unlikely when faced with the counterpoint of “I remember what happened.”

I remember what happened.

You don’t need a narrative to see what was said.

Trump’s team’s arguments were post-truth.

We watched a lie, a small lie, not some grand conspiracy, win over a very public trial.

The lie didn’t win because the argument was a good one, but because the people who had to vote on it were complicit with the action that the President was being accused of.

As I write this, flabbergasted at the outcome of the trial that lasted just a little more than a week, I wonder what our future holds.

We have learned that if you ask someone else to kill for you, and you lie about doing it for long enough – and hard enough – you won’t be guilty.

What good does it do to side with those that don’t have your best intentions at heart?

Does anyone care?

In Closing, What Hope Is Left?

America is a failing country, in a lot of ways.

No country is perfect yet, but some are trying.

If I could develop a short summary of what perfection looks like it would be something like this:

If the purpose of a government is to serve the people – which, for all intents and purposes it absolutely is, then a perfect system would be one where the government is succeeding by exceeding expectations.

The eradication of homelessness even for those struggling.
The ability to work as a right, not a necessity.
Modern medicine provided to those who need it when they need it.
Access to education, regardless of the subject.
The removal of all industry that competes with governmental services.
Leaders who have no power, and do have a wage cap.

This doesn’t work in our fractured system, and it probably never will.
However, the base to start from, the very minimum is the belief that the government should be working to prevent people from dying.

I believe that a fair system is a morally and ethically correct system to strive for.

What the US has done is show, again, that not only is their system unfair and biased, but that they are not working to correct it and would actually like the system to be even more unfair.

Theoretically, this can be fixed, people could demand fairness, but they aren’t.

“Good strong conservative values” favouring things like “strong markets,” “trickle-down economics,” and “Christian identity” have won. These ideals don’t lead to progress, and they actively make the world worse for the vast majority of people.

There is no “fiscal conservatism” left in North America.

As I sit here, wide-eyed and staring at my TV watching a small lie destroy the idea of fairness in the US and disenfranchise the sanctity of life, I am worried.

America has become a disease, and it’s incredibly contagious.

Written by
Jack Fisher

Jack Fisher is an independent journalist. He holds a BAH from the University of Guelph, and a post-graduate certificate from Sheridan College in journalism.
@Jack_Fisher_4 on Twitter and Instagram

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Written by Jack Fisher