If we let President Donald Trump off the hook for misusing the power of his office for his own political benefit we could cause the eventual end of our democracy. There are those who will say what he did was wrong, but it was not wrong enough to justify impeachment or removal by the Senate.
Consider this. How Congress acts will create a precedent for some future wannabe dictators from the left or from the right lusting for dictatorial power who think they too can get away with it. Many democracies in our modern era have died a creeping death because citizens allowed their constitutions and laws to be abused. Our founders feared the rule of a tyrant (king, dictator or autocrat) would reoccur. They had fought a revolutionary war to rid themselves of one. They wrote safeguards into the Constitution. If those safeguards are ignored, wrongdoings go unpunished, or unexposed, there is a likelihood that sometime in our future we could see our democracy replaced by an autocrat getting away with ignoring laws and the Constitution as Trump did. It is not only about members of Congress fear being primaried or concerned with their reputation in history. It is also about the future of the kind of governance our children and grandchildren will have. Frequently quoted Ben Franklin on the passage of the Constitution: “We have a republic if we can keep it”. American democracy is being tested.
Important guardrails protecting us from the demise of democracy are written into our Constitution: the separation of the three co-equal branches of government and their ability to have specified kinds of checks over one another. A major difference between a dictatorship and a democracy is the rule of law trumps the rule of a person in a democracy. One legislative check on presidential misusing and abusing his powers for his own personal purposes instead of the country’s interests or thumbing his nose at the law is impeachment. Important witnesses have braved repercussions to their own futures to provide confirmation of evidence already public in the record of a telephone call between President Trump and the President of Ukraine, and slips of the tongue of officials. Corroborating evidence is emerging from the behind doors inquiry that Trump used the powers of his office to get help from a foreign government for his 2020 re-election bid. The impeachment inquiry is now moving into the light of public hearings and voters will have a chance to see and hear for themselves if this is a sham, an unfair process, and a partisan takedown, as Republicans claim.
Charges being investigated by the House are whether the President asked, pressured, or demanded the Ukraine President to help Trump’s re-election. Soliciting, accepting and using aid from foreigners for election purposes is by itself a crime per election laws. Our democracy, our elections, are of, by, and for Americans, not of, by, or for Russia, China, or any other country. In the July 25 telephone call, Trump asked the new Ukrainian president to find dirt on the family of Joe Biden, his most feared opponent in the upcoming 2020 US elections. He further conditioned a visit to the White House and the release of bi-partisan supported military aid Ukraine desperately needed if they agreed to the favors he asked. That phone call described a “quid pro quo”, a Latin phrase, meaning “I will give you something you want (quid), the release of US military aid and a White House visit, though if you do what I want (the quo)’“, and investigate Hunter Biden’s Ukraine business. That kind of bargaining is used to support national security policy’s established objectives, but that is not what this quid pro quo involved. It was to benefit Trump’s re-election. Trump’s defense that the deal was to fight corruption in Ukraine is a farce since any reference to corruption the President made only mentioned Biden’s son’s Ukraine business dealings.