The irony of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on the eve of the start of an historic impeachment trial in the Senate, should remind you of the precariousness of our civil rights in America.
The man who should be removed from office, otherwise known as “Occupant 45,” is perhaps the biggest threat to U.S. civil rights in the last half-century.
If Martin Luther King were the awakening to the dream, Occupant 45 represents a return to the somnambulant past. The dark days. This is the president who sees tiki torches in Charlottesville and says there’s “good people on both sides.”
He sees people of color and wants to limit travel and border entry, not just immigration. He’s for limiting that too. He’s promised his base he’s going to build a wall. And forget the refugees. Let them rot in ICE detention facilities. He’s only interested in letting the “good ones” in. Not the poor or the persecuted. And not even the good ones in college. What’s he doing about DACA? Nothing. He’s against affirmative action. He has one of the least diverse administrations in history.
The legacy is clear.
Donald Trump is the anti-MLK.
And now after being impeached by the House, the Senate can remove him for good.
Not for the policies he’s foisted on our country, but for his actions that defy the Constitution.
But it only happens if the Senate is truly interested in justice and fairness and not what the Democrats describe as a “coverup.”
What else would you call it if new testimony from witnesses isn’t allowed?
Witness like Lev Parnas, the Pro-Russian Ukrainian buddy of Giuliani who saw Trump as the way to undermine reform efforts in his homeland.
Trump knew everything, says Parnas. But is the indicted Parnas singing for his life? Doesn’t matter. He’s in the dirt with the impeached president. Parnas needs to be heard.
So should other witnesses, like Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, and the former Secretary of State John Bolton, who referred to the Giuliani-led initiatives as a “drug deal.”
An impartial jury should want to hear from these witnesses and others.
But we don’t have an impartial jury in the Senate. We have Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has already stated publicly that he’s working in concert with the president. We have Sen. Ted Cruz saying that what the impeached president did was no worse than a traffic ticket.
Obstruction of Congress? Abuse of Power—for withholding millions in aid? The Republicans laugh.
And they ignore even the findings of the objective Government Accounting Office, which found that Trump withholding military to aid to Ukraine was a violation of law.
This is a report from the GAO, once considered the gold standard of truth. Now looked on with suspicion as an arm of the “deep state.”
This is where we are in America on MLK day.
Everything is polarized. Everyone distrusts everyone. You only trust what you know. And that isn’t much.
If you’re white and powerful, you are above it all. And as the president likes to say, you can pretty much get away with murder (unless that mythical person on 5th Ave. Trump likes to shoot rhetorically only suffers a flesh wound).
“Getting away with it” is the Trumpian value.
If no witnesses are allowed, then that becomes the new motto for our democracy, and it replaces what we have long prided ourselves in America.
Rule of law?
The right thing?
It’s a free market justice system. Can you get away with it? Right on!
And this is where we shall see the real trickle down in action.
A lack of respect for anything in America.
Whenever I’ve covered the local courts, I can’t get over how it feels. It’s a step away from the jail.
The defendants paraded through are mostly people of color. And the process seems rigged. The law is read to the letter.
There is no leeway. In the cases I’ve covered, nothing is reduced to a traffic ticket. It is a hard-ass justice system—if you’re powerless or the wrong color.
But a white president who is above it all can do as he pleases.
I think of all the men and women below him in unfortunate circumstances. Sure, there are lucky ones who catch a break and have advocates who reveal new evidence, like DNA tests that can often set them free.
And then there are the others too poor for a decent defense and just end up paying the price. Their crime? They got caught in the system with no way out.
That’s not happening to people who pride themselves with “getting away with it.”
A president shouldn’t be allowed to “get away” with anything.
But this week he might.
On this day, if we all think about MLK and can get beyond the platitudes, maybe the Senate will find a way to do the right thing.
I am just not hopeful.