The recent decision to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Trump is a very troubling historical event.
The reason is that the government of the United States, in pursuing this path, is showing the telltale signs of decline, which will eventually lead to its downfall.
The strength of the United States of America, over the nearly 250 years of its existence, has been the stability of its government on the one hand, and the civility of its citizens, on the other. Both of these qualities are remarkable, given the fact that it is a federation of many states, covering a vast territory, and a people consisting of many differing cultures, backgrounds, races, and religions.
These disparate elements have managed to stay the course of unity through the determination of its citizens to make it work. Even the War Between the States was unable, in the long run, to reduce the nation to political rubble.
In the political world, there has always been a toleration and forbearance of the opposing party or parties, since there was a mechanism in place to peacefully replace the bearers of governmental power. The losers of an election, whether the liberals or the conservatives, simply had to bear up until the next election.
In the cultural and religious world, Americans always practiced a civility towards those who were not of your fold. America was a place in which you could make your own world, whether political, cultural or religious, while at the same time carefully observing a civil kindness and decency toward those who disagreed or who were different.
These factors are central and essential to America’s strength as a nation. They are disappearing.
Civil toleration of opposing political ideas has eroded very seriously.
In regard to the political situation, let us abstract for a moment from who is in the right in this impeachment controversy.
These troubling factors disquieted me very much in recent weeks:
• That the President of the United States could be spied upon in his own house in his private phone calls to foreign heads of State.
• That he would be accused by the Congress of serious (impeachable) wrongdoing on the word of one anonymous accuser.
• That the testimony of the “whistleblower” is based on second- and third-hand information, what is commonly known as hearsay evidence.
• That Mr. Schiff, who is effectively the prosecutor in this case, could so embroider the contents of the President’s conversation, that his rendering of it became an outright lie, although he himself dismissed it as a parody.
• That there was no outrage on the part of the members of Congress at this gross misrepresentation of the President’s words.
That these extremely grave violations of fundamental justice could take place at the highest levels of government is a very bad sign for the future of this country.
The fall of the Roman Empire was caused precisely by the uprising of various factions in the Roman government against the incumbent emperor, many times causing their untimely and violent deaths.
The Byzantine Empire also succumbed to the Mohammedans because of an interior weakness of warring factions in the government, which also resulted in the ousting of emperors, often with cruel tortures, such as having their eyes gouged out.
The Russian Empire fell to communism not only because of weakness of the Czarist government, but mostly because of strident factionalism within the Kerensky government.
France, since the Revolution of 1789, has changed constitutions and forms of government a dizzying amount of times, at least four times from 1789 to 1804, and then thirteen more times from 1804 to the present. Although it had a stable monarchy for one thousand years, from Charlemagne to Louis XVI, its course over the past 230 years has resembled more the government of a banana republic.
America, however, despite some fiery political oppositions, has managed to avoid up to now this instability of government through patience and civility.
The heat to impeach is so virulent that it reminds me of the Jacobins calling for the head of Louis XVI.
Impeachment of a president is so grave, and so dangerous to the general order of the nation, that it should be conducted with the utmost care, calm, and gravest respect for all of the standards of evidence and justice. But we have seen the precise opposite in recent weeks.
The very idea of an anonymous accuser is absolutely contrary to American culture and ideals. Who even knows if the “whistleblower” is a real person? The identity of the accuser is of supreme importance in any accusation, since his character and background are determining factors in his credibility. It is for this reason that they must appear in
court, and give their testimony in person.
Who ever heard of secret denunciations in the United States of America? And everyone knows that hearsay evidence is worthless in a court of law. Yet these are the very instruments being used to cut off the head of the President.
And how can can someone lie to Congress in a matter of so great moment as that of impeachment, and not be prosecuted for a crime?
For all of these reasons, the events of recent weeks are the sign of a deep political cancer in the organs of government, and are a portent of a fatal political instability and of a future weakness in the face of our enemies.
What I have said here could apply to any president, whether Republican or Democrat, whether liberal or conservative. For the stringent demands of justice, particularly in what concerns the impeachment of the Head of State, transcend political parties.
God have mercy on us.