And What We Might Do About It
In reading over the unclassified transcript of this originally secret conversation, I see why the Democrats are looking at impeaching a president of the United States for the third time. It would have been a fourth time but Nixon resigned instead. I still don’t favor impeachment, even with ample grounds because our democracy is fragile right now and there isn’t much “united” about the United States, but I’ll get to that later.
I am grateful to President Trump for providing this transcript from 25 July 2019 (without any unreadable parts). The fact that he did so indicates that he sees his office differently than many of his predecessors and much, if not most, of the Democratic Party. The Donald (as he used to be called) doesn’t find anything wrong with what he did.
And, before I continue, I’d like to show that this phone call is entirely consistent with our President’s previous behaviors. When he got a whiff of a scent of dirt on President Obama, without any fact checking, he advanced on his “enemy” with the full support of America’s gossipers, pushing the “birther” controversy well beyond reasonable credibility and even after documentation was provided. Just after winning the presidential nomination by the Republican Party, he stood on stage grinning while the arena in Cleveland chanted “lock her up” for what seemed like hours again following rumor and innuendo which had little basis in fact or law as his own Justice Department dropped the case without much deliberation or fanfare. And, during his presidency, there’s been an inordinate amount of name calling and mudslinging. So it’s clear that the Donald doesn’t wait for the facts to get out negative stories about any of his opponents and does so without much restraint.
So I am entirely ready to believe that Donald Trump first unilaterally withheld authorized aid and then called Zelensky with the intent to create an investigation of his major political opponent so that more rumor and innuendo could ensue. The fact that this conversation does NOT include much concern for the ostensible reason for withholding this aid further: widespread corruption, but focuses on Biden and his son and that this focus is iterated at the end of the conversation, confirms, for me, that this was the major purpose for this call. I challenge the reader to keep in mind the withheld aid and the “widespread corruption” reason for withholding it while re-reading this transcript.
Furthermore, he wasn’t prompted to do any of this by facts or prompting from his underlings, nor did he do it after asking for more information from his intelligence community or while informing the public that the Ukraine government was corrupt and may not deserve our aid. And his reinstatement of aid didn’t follow such an investigation, either. He did this on his own with his own reasons and, as with the other assaults on opponents, for his own benefit. That, to my mind, is the crime and, again in my thinking, it’s a serious problem in a democracy where we have, in the past, at least maintained a veneer of duty to the Constitution, fair play and the rule of law.
The previous two impeachments, Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1998, were both highly polarizing and highly political, just like this one, and both failed by a single vote as this one seems destined to be as well. The problem, as I see it, is that Americans (as we grandiosely call ourselves) are strongly devoted to the (preposterous to me) idea of our high standing in the world’s social hierarchy. A successful impeachment calls all that into question. If we admit that some of our processes resemble that of a dictatorship and that the will of the people is NOT paramount in the workings of our government, then we’re more like everyone else and that is unacceptable to an inordinate number of our citizenry.
Furthermore, the impeachment process itself might pull both sides together if the facts and themes I’ve just tried to enumerate could persuade any on the other side of the red-blue divide to defect to the other color, but, again, so far it only further entrenches both sides in their previous opinions.
So the hope I have is that a few dedicated red-side scholars can be persuaded that The Donald might not be as good an administrator as they had hoped and that the blue-side can be persuaded that we need a moderate with a record of bringing diverse sides togetheer again right now; that what we need, most of all, is to find a way to unite our United States.
I favor the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, whose focus seems to be on a Presidency that represents all Americans rather than dragging the red states kicking and screaming into blue state agendas. Pete seems to put saving the livability of our planet and the unity of our nation above party politics or political dogma.
Yes, I’m still a social democrat and, if I were voting for what I wanted, I’d vote for Bernie, the single United States Senator to vote against invading Iraq, a distinction that should make him proud today but which he doesn’t often talk about (again because it rankles most Americans who favor “greatness” over all other attributes).
But I’m voting my group conscience: what’s best for the group as a whole. My group conscience isn’t Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Pete is soft spoken but assertive. Pete is actively looking for ways to bring us together and save the nation and the planet. Pete is adept at finding uniting themes and unifying issues and he would make a stark and appealing contrast to the self-promoting, narcissistic, womanizing, criminal-surrounded, highly abrasive and divisive individual currently residing in the White House.
And, though I hate to bring it up, we’ve had First Ladies and quite a few Presidents that cheated on them … and got re-elected. A President and a First Husband might be a refreshing change. No, I’m not gay, but I’m not anti-gay either. If we can elect a black President who is right for the job, we can elect a capable, open, honest, and faithful gay President who is right for the job.
©David N. Dodson, Phoenix, AZ, September 2019