Our fragile democracy calls for formidable Republicans
A modest, honorable, former Republican president leaned in close to a modest, honorable, congressional Democrat leader, and, speaking through his face mask, said: “Joe Biden is the only one who could have been elected.”
Those words, relayed by receiver Rep. Jim Clyburn of S.C., stood out most amidst all the immensely moving speeches, poems and songs heard on Inauguration Day 2021. Rep. Clyburn is generally acknowledged as “the one” who delivered the essential Palmetto State to Biden during the Democratic primary. It was that momentum that enabled Biden to dramatically cinch the Democratic nomination for president.
The powerful words Clyburn heard came from former Republican president George W. Bush, who had long made it clear that he was never a fan of then-President Trump. I strongly believe that Bush was absolutely correct, and, though I was 100% for former VP Biden from the Day One, I still felt the alarm that Bush’s words engendered.
To think that a moderate (and, more importantly a decent human being who had a track record of honesty and integrity) was the only one who could beat such a despicable human being—who clearly brought out the worst in people—-was truly frightening. Even in losing, Trump brought out the worst in so many people…particularly members and leaders of his own party.
Nearly every Republican office holder was cowed by Trump’s “base;” a base that was expanded by bringing in those who were not part of any party: every violent group that wasn’t like them….white, angry, straight, against anyone who wasn’t like them, anti-Semitic, vulgar, and, I would add, slightly stupid and gullible. Those groups were the ones Trump first allowed in, while encouraging and inflaming their rage and prejudice, before finally inciting them to a deadly insurrection at our national capitol building. They are part of the “base” that brought literal fear to the figurative fear Trump had been using against his own party for years.
Think about it: had that group of rioting hoodlums been just a bit smarter and a tad more organized, what was a deadly catastrophe on January 6th could have been a disaster on par with or exceeding any sneak attack by a foreign country.
Frankly, I do not believe the crisis is behind us. As a lifelong Democrat (who strongly believes our nation needs a strong Republican Party with which I can vigorously work against), I can accept losing to a candidate with whom I disagree but yet respect. We are a long way from that with the shadow of Trump still looming large. We need to do what then-Majority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell indicated regarding the party ridding itself of Trump (and I assume his violent, hateful friends) and admitting that he incited the rioting at our nation’s capitol.
At first I thought the exercise of impeachment was a waste of time, and would unnecessarily keep the focus on Trump when we need to be addressing the urgent needs our nation faces. Now, though unlikely, there is a chance to do what Leader McConnell asked.
If only 12 Republican senators join the five who supported a procedural vote on impeachment, they could convict a tyrant. And, though already out of office, the most important next step would be to ban Trump from ever running for office again.
The current Republicans need to call on the spirit of celebrated diplomat and extraordinary lawmaker Howard Baker (a hero to this Democrat and multitudes of others), and the strength of such outstanding former Tennessee GOP leaders like Bob Corker, Bill Haslam, Bill Frist, John Duncan, Bill Jenkins, and Beth Harwell to lend them the courage and conviction necessary to do what’s right.
If Senator McConnell can convince just 11 others (out of 45) to stand up for their Party and this country, then we could all celebrate the grandest victory for the survival of America and democracy since the Battle of Appomattox Court House in 1865.
The chance begins on February 9. God help us all.