One of the interesting things for me during this impeachment season is experiencing it while reading Ron Chernow’s Hamilton. An 800 page behemoth of a historical piece, it is the basis of the musical that has been sweeping the country the last couple of years. After seeing the musical a few months ago, I decided I needed to read the book. It took me weeks to slog through it, but …
Given Hamilton’s role in the founding of this country, from being Washington’s key aide during the Revolutionary War, to being a key backer of getting rid of the Articles of Confederation and adopting the Constitution, to writing most of the Federalist Papers that explained the need for the Constitution, to being the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, his story really is the story of how America was founded.
Occasionally, on some of the talking head shows, and also during the House Judiciary Committee hearings, historians and law professors have talked about how the impeachment proceedings and charges against Trump fit into our history, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers’ intent.
What I gleaned from Hamilton and my recollections of the history I’ve learned over the years is that the Founding Fathers intended a system with a strong executive, but with checks and balances and a separation of powers that would prevent that strong executive from becoming the equivalent of a King. Congressional oversight, with the ability to remove the President if necessary, was a critical piece of our American system of government. After fighting a war to break free from a monarchy — a war that lasted years and cost thousands of lives — the last thing the founders wanted was another government where one man could be king.
As a result, for more than 200 years, Congress’ ability to provide oversight of the executive branch (including the President), to investigate the executive branch, and, if necessary to bring charges against the executive branch have played a critical part in the stability of our government. And it is this fundamental concept that Trump, with his claims of absolute immunity and his refusal to provide any documents or any testimony or any anything to Congress as they perform their Constitutionally mandated function, has violated.
At the core of our system is checks and balances and separation of powers. No one branch of government is supreme over the other. But Trump and his allies (which basically means the entire Republican Party today) would have him be king. A thing the Founding Fathers would have found abhorrent. Everything about what they did all those years ago was meant to prevent exactly what Trump and the Republicans are now pushing.
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I keep hearing about how this is a witch hunt. Trump even claimed that the women slaughtered during the Salem Witch Trials got more due process than he is getting. (A concept that doesn’t have a lot of facts behind it.) But then our President and his allies aren’t exactly interested in facts. Like his claims of this being the worst witch hunt in the history of the American Presidency.
How soon we forget.
Let’s go back a few years. We don’t even have to back 30 years. Let’s go back 27 years. To the beginning of the Clinton Presidency. When, after 12 years of Reagan and Bush #1, Republicans reacted to Clinton’s win as though they had been denied their birth right.
Let’s relive some of the allegations made back then.
The Clintons were involved in a cocaine smuggling ring with shipments coming in and out of a small airport in Mena, Arkansas.
The Clintons were responsible for the deaths of Vince Foster, Ron Brown, and others.
Ken Starr was assigned the responsibility of investigating the Clintons in connection with Whitewater — a failed real estate deal they were rumored to have inappropriately profited off of. No charges against the Clintons were ever brought as a result of Whitewater.
But Starr’s investigation morphed into … well, if you have watched Stranger Things … something very close to the creature that can transform from a blob of goo into a terrifying creature and then back again. He went on to Travelgate. Filegate. And more.
There were all sorts of right-wing media sites piling on in this — Newsmax, Richard Mellon Scaife, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and others — pushing every harebrained allegation they possibly could.
And Starr investigated and investigated and investigated. Until he found the stain on the blue dress and Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob in the oval office. While absolutely none of the other allegations ever came to anything at all.
Seriously, that Republicans today, including Trump, can possibly claim that what he is going through is worse than what Republicans did to Clinton …
It is this kind of hypocrisy and dishonesty that has left me almost incapable of caring about any of this anymore. Like I said, in my last post, it is truly irrational that no Republican voted in favor of impeachment. How they can justify his behavior, his conduct, and his words is stunning.
So here’s the deal. If you’re a supporter of Trump and wish to explain to me how this makes any sense at all, I have an open mind. I desperately want to understand this. I invite you comment here and we can have a conversation about these issues. I promise to be respectful. Alternatively, send me an email … firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to have a good conversation about this with somebody who is on the Trump side on this because none of it makes sense to me. So, the invitation is open.