This is how republics die. Not with a spectacular collapse, but with the slow erosion of safeguards and protections until finally a party seizes absolute power and calls it freedom.
If you’ve been paying attention to the brazen partisan whitewash of Donald Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors that has played out over the last week in Mitch McConnell’s captive Senate, you know very well that you’re looking at the death of the American republic. The Founding Fathers knew that this would happen – they just didn’t know when. They understood that republics were fragile. That a well-founded republic required an enlightened and educated citizenry, a commitment to the public good, and virtuous leadership. That all of these things were difficult and, historically, in short supply. That eventually the United States would fall victim to the forces that destroy all republics – ignorance, short-sighted self-interest, and the destruction of liberty by power. They just didn’t know when it would happen.
Now we know.
It’s not that the opposition hasn’t put up a good fight. They’ve outlined with crystalline clarity the crimes committed by the tyrant in the White House. They’ve fought to have that evidence introduced in the trial, to have witnesses with direct knowledge of events testify on behalf of the truth, and to get this word out to the American people.
But from the beginning McConnell and his sycophants have made it clear that they’re not interested in such things. They don’t care about the crimes committed, nor the fact that Trump is a tyrant. They are on public record declaring that they have no interest in a fair trial of any sort and that they would coordinate with the defendant to ensure an acquittal regardless of the facts of the case. They have blocked all evidence and witnesses from being heard. They have worked tirelessly to deny access to any of this to the American people.
The thing is that McConnell will probably win this round. He has the power and he has worked to make sure that nothing will disturb the one-party dictatorship that he and the rest of the Republican Party are actively creating in what was once the land of the free. He will overlook any crime, deny any reality, and destroy any law or Constitutional obstacle that gets in the way of that. He has made no secret of this. His party has been open in its pursuit.
But in their rush to get Trump out from under his crimes they assume that corruption will always benefit them. They assume that power will always be theirs. They forget that the next tyrant may hate their opponents as much as they do but may not like them either.
It may yet be possible to salvage the republic even so. This will not be easy, however.
But if our children are to enjoy any sort of future, Americans must start the work now.