What are the ethics of impeaching a federal officer? Even if they do exist, who cares? Is impeachment a remedy, response, prayer, solution, or gotcha for doing something so bad it rhymes with bewitchment? Was it a spell magically cast over the House of Representatives that provoked it to impeach Trump a second time? Or was it a just and meaningful catchment.
Nonpoliticians find the naked word–impeachment–confusing. Words are often clothed in uplifting garments like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But Impeachment, with a Capital “I,” is still naked. Some say it is just the first act in a political play written by one political party, i.e., Democrats. The second act is not mere Impeachment; it wears big boy pants and goes by a scarier name, Conviction, with a capital “C.” The second act is written by Republicans.
The 2021 Impeachment of Donald Trump is a victory for some and a kick in the gut for others. The United States of America is victorious when it acts to protect democracy. Trump, our small-p president got a kick in the gut when he acted as though he had won, when he clearly had lost. He called on our lesser devils to rise up and invade the US Capitol.
The US Capitol called on our better angels to rescue the rule of law from the red hats and black hearts. The consequence was Impeachment. That’s how Act I ended. Act II will take center stage on or about Trump’s last day in office, having been impeached twice, tried once, and waiting for his second trial, before the same judge, but with a different script.
As with most political tragedies, this one is a metaphor. T.S. Elliot said it best when he wrote about Dante’s passage through Purgatorio on the way to Paradiso. “The people in Purgatorio were inside their flames expurgating their errors and sins. Dante was talking to a spirit, an unknown woman in her flame. And as she answered Dante’s questions, like all the other spirits, she had to step out of her flame to talk to him, until at last this unknown feminine spirit was compelled to say to Dante, ‘Would you please hurry up with your questions so I can get on with my burning?’”
Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, Trump, like Dante, has many questions to ask Rudy. Rudy might say, “Hey, hurry up man, I got my own burning to deal with.”
The House is the pencil. The Senate is the eraser. Kiss the flame and it is yours.
I am an author and a part-time lawyer with a focus on ethics and professional discipline. I teach creative writing and ethics to law students at Arizona State University. Read my bio.
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