Next week we may see the start of an impeachment trial in the Senate. I’m concerned by the unwillingness of Republicans in positions of authority to rein in this president – even though we have a transcript of a phone call in which he clearly asks a foreign government for a favor that is forbidden by our Constitution, and we have credible testimony from several officials involved in the backstory. I’m concerned because their response predicts the loss of fundamental American values.
The values I have in mind are evident in our national sports. For example, we teach our kids to shake hands with the opposing team whether they win or lose, and everyone plays by the same rules. We do not change them in the middle of a game.
The same framework guides our schools, and where it breaks down, we say that they’ve failed. When businesses engage in unsafe practices, we hold them accountable in court, where one may not tamper with evidence or show contempt for the judge or the law. When the rules seem too strict or too lax, we seek to change them through democratic processes instead of by fiat or violence. When elected officials misuse their power or position, we remove them from office. This framework forms a social contract that defines us to ourselves and others as American.
You may say that these ideals are often unrealized, but many strive every day to realize them. That is the power of ideals. Without them, it’s impossible to say who we may become. Republican officials have allowed this president to shred them, and no one has yet proposed an alternative social contract.
The time has come for all citizens who still believe in our social contract to stand up and speak for it, and to speak against the behavior at the top that’s undermining it. Impeachment is one tool that our Constitution has given us to assert the values that hold us together as a nation when they’re threatened from within.
Fish Creek, Wisconsin