Merely a week after the storming of the Capital by vandalistic extremists, President Trump has been impeached. In a few days President Joe Biden will be sworn in.
Trump will go to Mar a Lago with his own plans for the future. He no doubt dreams of a Churchillian or a de Gaulle triumphant come back in 2024. As the days pass, his approval rating is coming down rapidly enough, so one can hope that he will never come back. However, there is a danger that a politician with similar “kakosophy” (bad wisdom- the antonym of philosophy) will emerge with the support of the same mixed bag of extremist factions that Trump had managed to assemble and fuse with the various easily impressionable religious groups. The real question is whether President Biden should embark, right at the beginning of his administration, in an impeachment trial.
The word impeach can be broken down into the verb “peach” which means to betray and the prefix “im” which comes from Latin meaning “not” therefore impeach means preventing from betraying (one’s oath or duty) which is precisely the intent here.
According to the report made by the House Judiciary Committee released at the time of the Watergate investigations:
Impeachment was used in individual cases to reach offenses, as perceived by Parliament, against the system of government. (the king, his ministers, and favorites). The charges, variously denominated “treason,” “high treason,” “misdemeanors,” “malversations,” and high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” thus included allegations of misconduct as various as the kings (or their ministers) were ingenious in devising means of expanding royal power.
The first recorded impeachment was in 1376 in England by the “Good Parliament” against William, 4th Baron Latimer, who served in the household of the then King Edward III, and was accused of bribery and corruption.
In view of the importance of not invoking frivolously the act of impeachment, it is crucial to ask whether there is a reasonable case for it.
In our last article, the “Biggest Lie”, we attempted to show that first there had been was a series of lies which progressively led a vast number of citizens to fuse into a single mass. The culmination of these deceits was the “biggest lie” which was repeated for over two months after the election. Even that lie had been planned ahead of the election by massaging the minds of the docile mass of core supporters that the elections were going to be marred by fraudulent mail voting.
The few elements below are a pointer to the severity of responsibility of the President in the incitation to violence.
President Donald Trump, when asked during the first presidential debate at the end of September if he would denounce white supremacists and militia groups, told the right-wing group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” to say the most ambiguous condemnation of violence. As early as the 20th of December Trump had tweeted “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
About 70 minutes into his speech, he appeared to let slip his apprehension as to the suitableness of his final salvo:
“Well, I have to say we have to be a little bit careful. That’s a nice statement, but we have to be a little careful with that statement. If we allow this group of people to illegally take over our country, because it’s illegal when the votes are illegal, when the way they got there is illegal, when the States that vote are given false and fraudulent information”.
After a long diatribe about illegal immigrants, illegal votes, and his accomplishment of the wall, he launched his final exhortation of the march towards the Capitol and the take back of the country.
No doubt, the recklessness and the possible premeditation behind his speech that led to the storming of the Capitol will be investigated and apportioned in great details by journalists, historians, and lawyers.
As has been said by a commentator: “If you’re going to allow impunity, then that hurts the American experiment. Without accountability at home, we’re going down a path of saying, you know, stuff happens.” What he meant is that laissez faire creates a precedent that brings in opportunities to break the law. On these grounds alone, the House of Representative was correct in triggering the impeachment process. But how far do we have to go? The Senate trial?
The brief but penetrating sound of the word “peach” made one think of other words starting with “p” and ending in “ch”: parch. patch. perch. pilch. pinch. pitch. poach. preach. punch. pouch. The closest one in sound is “pitch: How can the Democrats “pitch” an adequate response to Trump’s reckless and perhaps criminal actions?
They must, in alliance with the traditional wing of the Republican party, react in a way as to hold Trump liable, prevent him from being re-eligible. The priorities are healing as opposed to dividing and also ensure adequate space for early legislative action by Biden. In addition, as the pandemic is still raging, mass vaccinations and fostering the rapid elaboration of therapeutics through incentives are essential.
This is why the response towards Trump must be “pitched” in a non discordant path. Whereas the absolute quest of justice is a worthy goal, it will take time and may enhance divisions. The impeachment trial may even fail as the politicians are no longer prisoners of their conscience but prisoners of their radicalized voters.
The immediate priority is to prevent the future nefarious influence of Trump and his supporters. A milder but effective set of alternative measures may prove less disruptive and more effective.
At the political level, one should find, without going through an impeachment trial, a way to pass legislature that prevents Trump from ever holding a federal office. The allies will be the pillars of the traditional Republican party, many of which are eager to rebuild a party that has been contaminated by the election of many Trumpist politicians supported by a radicalized electorate.
This electorate is an amalgam of hardcore extremist movements that have been allowed to extend their influence through social media. Many of their leaders have participated in the storming of the Capitol and should be judged and punished accordingly. Hopefully, this will put a break on the fervor of those movements.
Ever since the Brexit referendum, it has been evident that opinion could be swung by the shrewd use of the social media. No one understood this tool better than the President himself who communicated day and night with his supporters, most of them frustrated individuals, in need of their daily fixes of tweets. His tweets were carefully crafted to simultaneously comfort, but at the same time bolster their frustrations and fanning their anger, and thus reinforced his image of a savior. The January insurrection has prompted the social media managers to suppress the accounts of the great leader himself thereby cutting of his main line of communication. They also suppressed the accounts of many supporters including members of Qanon. This may be beneficial in the short run as it has doused the fire, but the question is whether private individuals however powerful or well meaning they may be should be able to suppress the exchange of opinion. As time goes, it will become more and more evident that social media must become more regulated.
As for main TV media, it is time to reinstate real news coverage and opinion debates by representing both parties than delivering one sided opinionated diatribes.
Lastly at the judicial level, the ability to pardon oneself, members of one’s family or close associates for federal offenses should be tested.
In our opinion, the best, President Biden, could do for his country would be to impede it from happening again and not get his legislative program bogged down by divisive politics.
17 January 2021
See also: The Biggest Lie