For Democrats to further delay impeachment is to basically disregard and throw out the Constitution as a useless document that no longer matters. If they do not impeach now, they are telling the American people that Trump can do whatever he wants for the next year. That is hardly the role of Congress and it existentially opposes this nation's democratic values.
Fine. But in good conscience, what Trump is being impeached for cannot be viewed as worse than locking children in cages and treating them like criminal animals, as he has authorized on the border, to the ecstatic or passive approval of his xenophobic base.
Systemic injustice on this scale is a true crime against humanity. If those policies on family separation and child "detention" were not impeachable than what is? I mean to say if our forefathers and foremothers believed that high crimes and misdemeanors meant the deprivation of human liberty at the hands of a tyrannical ruler, is that not a description of Mr. Trump and his unorganized and extremely dangerous views (turned into laws) on immigration?
Let's face it, in the eyes of both Democrats and Republicans, the maltreatment of migrant children — something that is going on as we speak — was not enough to galvanize the House to impeach; nor were proposed travel bans on Muslims, the practical abandonment of Puerto Rico, the daily assaults on American institutions including the press and labor unions, and his ongoing and thoroughly nebulous collaboration with Russia.
Ultimately, what it took to shift the dial in Washington was the blatant exposure of a self-proclaimed "dealmaker" enacting a political vendetta and the overarching concern around how foreign aid is spent on fighting proxy wars.
If nothing else, this lead-up to impeachment reveals just how thoroughly militaristic, geopolitical, pragmatic, and self-righteous this country really is. Think about it. The act of betrayal that ultimately forced moderate Democrats to push for impeachment inquiry did not prioritize human rights, racial justice, economic prosperity, or ecological sustainability — at least not at the core. The final act that forced Nancy Pelosi to go ahead, even against her better political instincts, was a president unlawfully dangling foreign military aid in the face of a subordinate ally in order to influence a domestic election. In the end, the infraction that truly mattered to the Democrats was the way Trump misused Ukraine as a pawn against Russian aggression. It can be dressed up in many different gowns, but that is how this looks when it is stripped to its essence.
Please don't get me wrong. I think an impeachment inquiry is absolutely necessary. If not now, when? But let's not fool ourselves. This impeachment process should have begun much earlier. When Trump turned his back on asylum seekers, he should have faced this consequence. The second that he turned his back on Puerto Rican citizens (which means citizens of the United States), he should have been, at the very least, censured and forewarned. The way he has been gutting our National Parks, eviscerating the Environmental Protection Agency, and hollowing out the Department of the Interior should have been the catalysts needed to act. It wasn't. So there is little self-congratulating to be done when it comes to this announcement. What actually made a difference was how war and money influence American elections. That is the true measure of where we are as a country. It is a sad reflection indeed.
Nancy Pelosi was right when she said this is a sad time for America. It is. The election of Donald J. Trump was a sad event. The legacy of corruption and ineptitude that he leaves behind is a sad series of events. And this culmination of self-destruction by a megalomaniac con artist will leave a sad residue on our nation for generations to come.
In the wake of this epic tragedy, questions must be posed. What about the American psyche that allowed this volatile and ridiculous melodrama to play out as long as it did? Why did it take this crisis and not the others to finally move Democrats to act decisively?
George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY adjunct professor of philosophy and domestic violence counselor. He lives and works in Rochester.