So, it's over. Impeachment. I think we're all glad that it's come to end, but we're all probably a little overwhelmed about what happened and why the final verdict was acquittal and if there were any winners in this sordid affair.
We woke up Wednesday morning to the images of Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up Donald Trump's fiction of a State of the Union. We went to bed last night knowing that Senate Republicans did something even more dramatic. They shredded our constitution. Their actions will be studied for generations. A lesson in how democracy, at a brief period in the history of the United States, temporarily went off the rails.
That's what happened. Plain and simple, and anyone who wildly says that, well, what Trump did was wrong and bad and dangerous and criminal but not worthy of impeachment, is hiding behind a paper wall that one day soon will be torn apart like a Trump State of the Union speech. History will judge what happened fairly and quite harshly.
I wonder what it was like for Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner, and others to listen to Sen. Mitt Romney's explanation for why he was voting guilty? His quiet voice of reason, elucidating about the somberness of his oath and religion, and his need to be for his children and grandchildren to be proud of him should have shamed any one of the senators who said Trump was guilty but not impeachment guilty. Romney's vote also kep Republicans and Trump from claiming that the impeachment votes were 100 percent partisian -- but that's beside the point and wasn't even Romney's consideration process. His vote was honest and personal.
The same cannot be said for Collins, Murkowski, and Gardner. How do they face their priest or minister? Did they not break the solemnity of that precious oath, which includes "so help me God?" They know their vote was wrong. They have to know. Did they even consider that they had an opportunity to look courageous? Sure, they have to face voters, who have opinions on both sides, and each flank will lay into them for sure -- heroes and cowards. But what about their kids and grandkids? Romney brought up the most important constituency and the most human. Their families, for generations, will not be oblivious to what they've done. Their legacies forever tarnished. Remember Collins's vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court? Nobody will from now on. She voted to set free a criminal. I guarantee you, one day we will read in at least one of their biographies how they regretted voting the wrong way.
Democratic Sens. Doug Jones, Joe Manchin, and Kyrsten Sinema also faced a tough call and went with conviction. Jones is up for election in Alabama, and he is sure to face fire from a state that bleeds MAGA red, but he realized, like Romney, that the vote had nothing to do with politics. He showed tremendous courage, and I'm sure his gay son and the rest of this family are immensely proud. Likewise for Manchin and Sinema. They decided to do the right thing, politics be damned. Their constituents will admire their courage, and if they don't, Jones, Manchin, and Sinema will have guilt-free lives. Good for them!
Now that's not say that things will be easy. They will be hammered by their opponents, particularly and more immediately for Jones. He goes in front of the electorate for the first time as a sitting senator, after barely squeaking by the deranged and alleged pedophile Roy Moore in 2017. It will be harsh for him, and you can be sure that Trump will make his life hell. But Jones's courage and the fact that he can stand on his own two feet with pride will shine through. Voters are smart -- well, some of them.
And God help Mitt Romney. He's already being castigated by the Republican Party, disinvited to a conservative conference, where a few years ago he was the shining star. What does being a conservative mean in 2020 anyway? It means that decent legislators like Romney are being replaced by the Devin Nuneses, Lindsey Grahams, and Jim Jordans who support Russian propogranda and a president with no anchor or morals. The days of the George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Romney are the thing of the past. Romney has to carry the weight of a moral, principled Republican, because most of the others are amoral and immoral.
But again, back to Romney's vote. Within minutes of his announcement, Trump Jr. was on Twitter crudely denouncing Romney. Do the Trump men have anything better to do than play on Twitter all day? And Twitterer Trump will go off the rails on Romney, and so will his base. It will be unconscionable what Trump tweets, and even worse what he says when he gets in front of his "send them back" audiences at his rallies. Romney will be vilified and shunned. A brave vote and dutiful public service deserving of a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Oh, wait, they only go to boorish, insidious loudmouths who spew hate. Even something that John F. Kennedy started to honor shining patriotism has been tarnished by the destroyer in chief. How dare anyone go against Supreme Leader Trump.
We've seen a lot in the last 24 hours or so from both chambers of Congress. We saw lies spewed, anger raging, hate honored, and crime excused. Much will be said about what has transpired, not only in the last five months with impeachment, but since Trump entered the presidential race in 2015 and littered elections and democracy with illicit behavior and corruption. Jon Meacham, the presidential historian, said it best to Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC -- I'm paraphrasing here: "We can vote for the hurricane in the House chamber during the State of the Union last night, or for truth and quiet honor that Romney displayed today in the Senate chamber."
It's in our hands to fill those chambers with truth and honor.
JohnCasey is a PR professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.