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This week the House of Representatives will impeach President Donald Trump. Regardless of what transpires in the United States Senate in the weeks and months to come, this President will, in the eyes of justice and in the historical legacy that will forever tarnish the man and probably more importantly the Republican Party, be forever footnoted as the most corrupt administration in American history. To many, myself included, this is barely tolerable. The President and his administration have committed indescribably heinous acts that are contrary to any cursory reading of decorum, public integrity, diplomacy, or that serve the best interests of the country and its citizens. Treason may or may not be too strong an indictment but suffice it to say that we as a nation have been indelibly lessened in the eyes of the world. It is nothing short of a colossal disgrace.

Worst President

What lies ahead for our nation and American democracy is the seemingly gargantuan task of cleansing our collective souls while undertaking unification and reconstruction of our commitment and dedication to a fundamental tenet of our governmental institutions and political leadership: namely, the basic notion that we are a nation of laws and not of men/women. Additionally, we must begin a process of restoration, redemption, and healing that has accompanied the massive divisions among the national electorate. The rift that divides us has developed slowly but steadily over several decades but was accelerated tremendously in the past three years. The audacity and brazenness of this President to reject the norms of decency and service to the nation and its citizens will linger long after he has been dispatched to either prison or unfortunately a prosperous retirement. We will learn from this tragic period and hopefully never allow it to happen again.

The audacity and brazenness of this President to reject the norms of decency and service to the nation and its citizens will linger long after he has been dispatched to either prison or unfortunately a prosperous retirement.

lAexander Hamilton, a principal author of the Federalist Papers cautioned “Those who stand for nothing fall for everything.” What will occur this week will be the culmination of nearly three years of rigorous investigative analysis. Given the unprecedented level of obstruction that has virtually paralyzed the heretofore universal acknowledgement that our system is based on a working version of separation of powers we can only hope that a valiant effort to honor Hamilton’s admonition will be undertaken. We are, quite simply, facing a constitutional crisis and the stakes for the nation are great.

The damage to democracy inflicted by the Trump administration and, by virtue of its obstinate subordination of core federalist principles the Republican Party, has cemented a level of political dysfunction and national disunity most likely not witnessed since the Civil War. Cult like adherence to Trump’s criminal, unethical, and very likely illegal actions have found refuge and support from what is virtually a state-run news network (Fox News) and a major political apparatus (Republican Party) that defies factual evidence, common sense, and any degree of self-reflection whatsoever. Whether it will be punished at the ballot box remains unclear, but surely that is the preferable remedy.

The American people have played a defining role in the current state of affairs and the scar tissue that is left from these self-inflicted wounds is reflected in a degree of incivility and political and ideological hostility that even the most determined effort to repair such wounds will require great effort. The most demanding task for political leaders in the decades to come will require a level of basic education on the extent to which our governmental system is reliant upon compromise for its very survival. Benjamin Franklin’s admonition that the result of the Constitutional Convention was “a Republic, if you can keep it” will surely be put to the test as the fallout from the impeachment effort reverberates over the coming months and years. Historically our nation has been equal to rising to the task that confronts us and I have little doubt we will do so again, but it will be painful.

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For a democratic institutionalist such as myself we may very well be facing the prospect that through either ignorance or calculated collective impatience the American people may flirt with the notion of a modified monarchy. Some would argue that frustration with the heavy baggage that democratic governance places upon the electorate to at least pay lip service to complicated and complex public policy decision-making makes abdication of basic electoral responsibilities a default they are willing to countenance. Certainly President Trump has indicated by his words and actions that government by strongman is a preferred and much less messy option to the incremental nature of a system that both requires and encourages caution and compromise. To patriots who believe in our constitution this must be rejected. The real question is whether our current political leadership is up to the task of making difficult decisions that may actually adversely affect their own self-interest. If ever there was a time where profiles in courage is called for it is now.

So here we are, poised on the precipice of a potentially major shift in a governmental structure that has endured for two and a half centuries. What makes our flirtation with authoritarianism all the more spectacular is that it is being aided and abetted by a party traditionally associated with conservatism. Today, however, it is hard to see the extent to which the GOP adheres to any coherent ideological precepts. As currently constituted it appears incapable of leading the charge against authoritarianism. To the contrary is has adopted support of a narcissistic, ignorant, and shameless self-promoter who idolizes a former KGB operative whose primary desire is to recreate a monolithic modern-day version of the Soviet Union. Is this really a direction we want to follow?

There was a time, not long ago, when I could not believe a revolutionary change in course could happen in our democratic system. Today I am not so sure. But I fear that we are closer to a revolution from the right than a revolution from the left and that scares the hell out of me.

Today I believe it is not only possible but that the red flags signaling danger present an ominous harbinger that will be given serious probability as early as the 2020 election. Unless there are hidden concerns residing within the Republican ranks that can manifest themselves either through an impeachment trial or in the next election we could be entering a seriously dangerous time.

In the end it is really up to the people to decide through their votes. Our ability to be conned by foreign interference disinformation campaigns present a clear and present danger that could introduce changes far beyond our imagination or willingness to tolerate. A quiet revolution is already taking place in a judicial system being packed by right-wing judges with life-time appointments that will render social policy changes unrecognizable to legislative architects.

So how important is this week in our history? Pretty important, but you must be the judge as to how you will deal with it.

Wall Street Journal

Lance Simmens

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