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Impeachment: 24 hours, and counting

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HERE WE GO into Impeachment Land. Don’t you get the feeling this whole thing is like a reality T.V. show? Republicans and Democrats each trying to banish the other from the island. Like any good serial program, one week one side is up; the next, the other; and every episode ends on a cliffhanger. Will the witnesses testify to any bombshells that haven’t already been made public? Will Republicans force Hunter Biden to appear? Will the pro-Impeachment and pro-Removal numbers rise, fall, or stay steady? Back in a moment—but first, this word from our sponsor.

It’s all very satirical, but we mustn’t lose sight of the underlying importance of this Impeachment, which is: we have in America an almost diabolical president, hostile to freedom, indifferent to human suffering, prejudiced in favor of his own billionaire class, a thug of unbelievable ferality and amorality, or at least devoid of anything that normal people would consider ethics. This thug leads a movement that is the most antithetical to democratic (small “d”) values that we have seen in our lifetimes, or even read about in the history books.

I was reading the other day an essay (I think in the N.Y. Times) by an op-ed writer, firmly Democratic in his beliefs. He was issuing a warning to Democrats: we could lose the 2020 election, thereby ensuring Trump’s reign from 2021-2025, which would be a catastrophe. What did this writer base his dire prediction upon? His sister, who lives in Eastern Washington State and, apparently being evangelical and poor, feels that coastal and urban elites turn their noses up at her and ridicule her for her beliefs. When the writer explained to his sister that Trump, if entirely successful, will take away her healthcare, and cause other damage to her and her class, she told him she didn’t care; she was voting her emotions, and Democrats and “liberals” have hurt her emotionally.

I have no way of doubting this cautionary tale. I’m sure that the writer’s sister will vote Republican even though, in every pragmatic sense, a Trump victory will cause her personal harm, especially if accompanied by Republicans retaking the House. Nor do I doubt that there are millions of American voters who feel the same way as the sister. They’re evangelical or fundamentalist (is there a difference? Not that I can see); they’re badly educated; they’re rural and poor; they do feel despised by people like me, who are in many respects their polar opposite: well-educated, not religious (and certainly not evangelical), urban, and middle class if not even higher on the economic totem pole. And the sister is right to this degree: I do despise these people. I always have. They’ve been out to get me–a gay man and a Jew, and as an intellectual who believes in science and reason–ever since I was born, and my reading of the news and of history teaches me that they’ve always been out to get my kind; and they’ve become even more demonic in this Age of Trump, which emboldens them.  So why would I not despise them?

At the same time, American history is replete with stories of opposing political sides compromising and accommodating each other. Indeed, that’s the spirit of our democracy, the premise upon which our political system rests. Admittedly, when it comes to the most basic political issues—abortion, gay rights, global warming, America’s role vis-à-vis the rest of the world, immigration and the border—it’s very hard to even theoretically imagine where compromise rests. Gay rights, for example: America either recognizes the full legitimacy of gay people (including the right to marry and adopt children) or it doesn’t. There is no middle ground that I can see. And the same is true for the other issues. Everything, it seems, that could ever be negotiated already has been; what remains behind is the non-negotiable stuff. I am not ready to compromise on whether or not America shall be a Christian country. The Mike Pences of our nation insist it be so; I insist not; where is the middle ground?

Still, I suppose I have to be bold enough to imagine that some sort of middle ground can be reached, because if it can’t, the result will be too drastic to contemplate. So let the Impeachment hearings begin, on television. Let all the T.V. stations, broadcast and cable, interrupt regular programming to televise them in their entirety. Let the independent media (which excludes Fox “News”) report on the hearings, which we’re assured will provide devastating evidence of Trump’s crimes and misdemeanors. Let the conversations roll forward, around kitchen tables and water coolers. Let the American people make up their own minds, and let them see through the veil of lies and smears issuing from Republican propaganda outlets like toxic gas from dismal swamps. Let the House Impeach, Impeach, Impeach—and let the chips fall where they may.

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