Leonard Zwelling

It’s the opposite of accountability.

When you forgive someone for doing something wrong, you at least acknowledge that the bad deed occurred. When you forget what someone has done, it’s like it never happened. That’s why the watchword of Jews when discussing the Holocaust is “never again.” Above all, never forget. Never. Especially now as the few survivors of the camps leave us.

The manner in which the majority of Republicans are handling the defeat of Donald Trump and his recent exile to Mar-A-Lago is to try to make people forget what he did and their relationship with him. Most of the GOP, especially that weasel Mitch McConnell who knows better than to acquit after Trump tried to have him killed, would just like Trump to be transported to another dimension. McConnell could not have voted to convict without having to give up his leadership role in the party. But not so Nikki Haley.

To her credit, the former U.N. Ambassador under President Trump has said, “he’s fallen so far.” The January 6 insurrection and riot on Capitol Hill were enough for her. They were also enough for seven GOP Senators who voted to convict. That’s fewer than the 17 needed, but still a majority of the Senate did vote to convict. Let’s say their names: Mitt Romney, Richard Burr, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Pat Toomey, Ben Sasse and Bill Cassidy. They will go down in history as having seen the light and not being willing to forget what President Trump did leading up to the election, after November 3, and specifically on January 6.

Does any of this really matter? Was the impeachment trial just a dog and pony show whose outcome was known from the start? Was this just a sham trial because so many of the jurors were willing to forget what Trump had done that included assembling and unleashing a mob that almost took their lives?

That depends on who you think the real jurors were.

If you believe that the target audience for the Democratic House impeachment managers was their colleagues in the Senate, then this was a waste of time, the outcome preordained and many Republican senators more than happy to forget the deeds of Donald Trump in the past three months and in the four years before.

The senators were not the target of the Democrats’ presentations. You were.

Now there is an indelible record of what really happened on January 6 that led to an all out riot and assault on the most sacred of American buildings and the closest of close shaves for the Vice President of the United States. This was no spontaneous street demonstration analogous to this summer’s riots following peaceful demonstrations by the BLM crew. This was a carefully planned insurrection stoked by Donald Trump’s unwillingness to admit defeat and encouraged by Trump’s rhetoric.

The real question is where does the GOP go from here. As was discussed on Meet the Press on February 14, the GOP will either double down on Trump and probably never regain its footing as a major conservative party capable of winning national elections or it will rid itself of the curse of Trump and be competitive in 2022 and 2024. It’s up to the Mitch McConnells and Kevin McCarthys of the world to reorient the Republican Party through purposeful remembering of what Trump wrought and then moving past that to reassert traditional Republican values.

My guess is that one hundred years from now, January 6, 2021 will be remembered as the day that a rogue and defeated president sought to reverse his defeat by violent means and threatened the legislature and the underpinnings of the country itself. It will not be forgotten, nor should it be.

The 43 Senate Republicans who voted to acquit Mr. Trump must also be remembered as the cowards that they were. They had the chance to move their party back to the mainstream and eliminate the fringe elements for which Trump made room in the GOP. They flinched instead.

Mitch McConnell may be remembered for his cowardice. More likely though, he will be forgotten as being without consequence. The one thing a conviction might have gotten the country was Donald Trump—never again. As it is, he may yet rise to try to reclaim the White House. If he does, we will have Mitch McConnell to thank.

2 thoughts on “Forgetting”

  1. The vast majority of Americans reportedly believe that Trump invited, organized and incited the January Insurrection. Justice may not be done with Trump, both in the courts and at the polls in 2022.
    Thanks for acknowledging the Republican Senators who had courage. Some of them, e.g. Ben Sasse, and also Nikki Haley are positioning themselves to lead a return to a true conservative Republican Party. Many disenfranchised Republicans will financially support that vision. Other donors are backing away from Trumpsters.
    Anne Applebaum suggested yesterday that one key way for these Republicans to minimize Trumpism is to stay “Center, Right” reaching out to moderate Republicans, Independents, and Democrats.
    I am hopeful that competent politicians with integrity will get the vote of most Americans.

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