When we call our son for a phone visit, he and 4-year-old Paul are watching “Cars 2.”
“Can you say ‘hi’ to Lealea and Tato?’” asks Tucker.
A dear little voice complies with a greeting, but, when Tucker suggests pausing the video to talk to us, not surprisingly, Paul declines. My son, however, is willing to miss out on the action; the movie is one of Paul’s favorites, so it’s had plenty of screen time.
While we chat, in the background, Paul says something about Lightning McQueen, the snappy red racecar hero of the movie. I can picture my son snuggled up with his boy on the soft gray sofa in their living room, Lightning large on the TV before them. I want their lives to remain healthy, safe, and happy, as comfortable and normal as this afternoon on the couch.
But to me right now, normalcy seems suspended.
The impeachment hearings have not haunted my kids and their spouses, any more than Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair haunted me when Tucker and Casey were little. As I was then, my kids are worried about their little one’s colds, Eleanor’s double ear infection, Paul’s happiness at school, Lexi’s propensity (and astonishing ability) for destroying the sturdy board books that survived Paul’s babyhood. Just keeping their toddlers safe at this age is a challenge. And at the end of a work day, getting the kids fed and to bed leaves little energy to rail at Mitch McConnell’s collaboration with the White House, the GOP Senators’ betrayal of their oaths to the Constitution and before God, and the strategic distractions of the defense team lawyers.
So I agonize on their behalf. What will reverse the heightened crumbling of democracy, social justice, tolerance, alliances, and the planet’s systems under this administration?
My incomprehension and anguish are entwined. Many of the GOP Senators who voted to acquit the president were born within a decade on either side of me. They experienced the sixties and seventies too, the revulsion to war, the surge in social movements and environmentalism, the reverence for this miraculous planet and its workings. We understood that stewardship, not dominion, was our role. As I did, these senators must have worn tie-dye and bell bottoms and sung ‘”The Age of Aquarius,” with its yearning for “harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding.”
What became of that idealism and the hopeful future it promised to shape?
When the hearings began, I knew, as everyone else did, that Trump would be acquitted. This was not a surprise. So, why am I so furious and unnerved?
- Because I listened to Chaplain Barry Black open the fourth day of Senate hearings with the prayer, “Eternal Lord God, You have summarized ethical behavior in a single sentence, ‘Do for others what you would like them to do for you.’ Remind our Senators that they alone are accountable to you for their conduct. Lord, help them remember that they can’t ignore you and get away with it, for we always reap what we sow.”
- Because I heard Adam Schiff quote Alexander Hamilton in describing the rogue president the impeachment clause was designed to guard against:
“When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may 'ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'"
- Because, having watched much of the House hearings and testimony, I heard the House Managers provide credible evidence of Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
- Because I heard the House Managers outline the repercussions of acquittal as this president perceives himself vindicated, and, freed of the threat of impeachment, is emboldened, unfettered by honor, facts, or moral behavior.
- Because I read Republican Lamar Alexander’s statement, “There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven,” and yet conclude that compromising national security by pressuring a foreign power to influence an election and obstructing a Congressional investigation were merely “inappropriate.”
Is it possible the Republican Senators were unmoved by all that, or didn’t believe it? I don’t think so, and that’s what sickens me. At our peril and that of democracy, they chose their ambitions and loyalty to Trump over country.
So, I worry for Paul, Lexi, and Eleanor. For Hazel, Miles, and Charlie. For Ava, Taylor, and Mariela. For Lily, Maddie, and Mia. I pray that in casting a vote in November, Republicans and Democrats alike consider, not just their own present, but the future their little ones will inherit.