If The Senate Trial Doesn’t Blow Up The GOP’s Big Lie — Democracy Is Doomed

It’s about more than just the impeachment of Trump

Photo by Brian Wertheim on Unsplash

Republicans are arguing today that impeaching Donald Trump after he has left office is unconstitutional and makes no sense…because he’s left office.

This just proves that they’re operating in the interest of politics rather than the United States, and a couple of simple data points blow their argument all to hell.

First, Donald Trump was in office when he was impeached, and the House tried to send the impeachment to the Senate for trial while Trump was still president. Mitch McConnell refused to accept the referral then, saying he wouldn’t hold the trial until the day after Trump left office.

Now McConnell is saying that because Trump has left office the trial shouldn’t happen at all, a situation himself himself set up!

That is such a clear demonstration of bad faith, of cynical manipulation, of politicians unwilling to do what’s best for our nation, that it’s laughable…and tragic.

That the Republicans in the Senate are even making such an argument should shock Americans.

It definitely demonstrates that most Republicans in the Senate would rather throw in with a fascist cult leader than with the bedrock principles of the Constitution and the needs of the American people, who were largely ignored while almost a half-million of us died unnecessarily in a pandemic that Donald Trump out of laziness, stupidity or malice totally botched.

And impeachment is about more than just removal from office: it’s about justice, accountability and deterrence of future criminality or treason in the White House.

Second, the trail being held in the Senate this week will determine if the crimes that Donald Trump committed while he was in office are so egregious that he should be officially identified as a criminal and barred from holding future political office.

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump created a Big Lie, saying that he actually won an election that he lost by over 7 million votes, because, he said, of “voter fraud,” based on the Big Lie of voter fraud that the GOP has been pushing for 40 years.

This GOP “voter fraud” Big Lie is quite simply a covert way of maintaining modern-day Jim Crow voter-suppression techniques against African Americans and other people of color, young people, and Social Security voters simply because all those groups tend to vote Democratic rather than Republican.

And the GOP hasn’t let go of it yet: over 200 pieces of voter-suppression legislation have been introduced by Republican lawmakers in state capitols across the country just in the past few weeks since Trump lost the election.

Third, a number of the Republican senators and members of the House explicitly or implicitly supported Trump in both his Big Lie and even his exhortation to march on the Capitol.

Many of the people who committed treason by trying to overthrow our government as the electoral vote was being counted have openly proclaimed under oath in court that they only did so because they believed Donald Trump told them to.

Many also believed he would legally protect them if they succeeded in taking down our current government and replacing it with Trump as a strong-man dictator-for-life.

This was explicitly an attempted coup, and needs to be dealt with as such.

At the very least, Senators Ted Cruz, Tommy and Josh Hawley participated in the Big Lie and thus helped foment the attempted treason, a fact Republican leadership is going out of its way to avoid because expelling them from the Senate could be a major loss for them politically.

As the trial goes on, America will see how over 60 specific proclamations by Donald Trump, each one a lie that the election had been rigged, manipulated, and stolen, would motivate gullible people to insurrection, treason and murder.

While many facilitated that Big Lie, some to help Trump and others to prop up the republican fiction of widespread “voter fraud,” it’s principal author was Donald Trump.

Hitler famously rode to victory the Big Lie that Jews, communists and trade union leaders had “stabbed Germany in the back” by prematurely negotiating a surrender in World War I.

Republicans hope to ride their Big Lie of “voter fraud” to electoral victory in 2022 in 2024 as their lackeys in state governments make it harder and harder for average people to vote.

And this week Trump hopes to use this Big Lie to avoid a conviction in the Senate that would end his pension, Secret Service protection, travel paid for by the American people, and his ability to run for office in the future.

Trump has committed many crimes in office, from directing his staff to violate the Hatch Act to outing American spies to letting almost a half-million people die from a disease his administration could have contained.

But the one with the most lasting consequences of the Trump presidency, the one most likely to further damage and possibly even destroy our democratic republic, the one Republicans right now are trying to use to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation to make it more difficult to vote, is the Big Lie that millions of Black people in our cities double-vote and that millions of undocumented people are showing up at the polls to vote illegally.

Trump began promoting this Big Lie in 2016 when he said that he lost the New Hampshire primary because Black people came across the border from Boston in buses to illegally vote, and that Hillary Clinton winning the national vote by more than 3 million was just Hispanics without documentation voting in California.

He and Republicans across his party continued to promote this Big Lie for the four years of his administration, with the assistance of their fellow travelers in the media.

There is literally no evidence of any of these things happening anywhere in the United States at any time in modern history.

If Democrats don’t use this senate impeachment trial as an opportunity to expose and explode the Big Lie that is at the core of it, they will have missed a vital opportunity.

And if Donald Trump isn’t convicted and stripped of the accoutrements of his former office, America and the rest of the democratic world will be less safe.

Donald Trump is on trial, but the real stakes here are the fate and future of democracy in the United States of America.

America’s #1 progressive talk show host & NY Times bestselling author. Thom’s latest project is the “Hidden History” series of books.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store