“we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Declaration of Independence  (July 4, 1776)

Having revisited Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, I am reminded despite their sometimes significant regional and partisan differences, 56 men were literally willing to risk their “Lives, Fortunes and sacred Honor” to obtain freedom and political self-determination.

Thirteen years later 55 American statesmen again met in Philadelphia and, against all odds of success, crafted an admittedly imperfect document we now call our Constitution; and amended it two years later to include the Bill of Rights. 

For the first time in history, a nation’s government was officially limited, guaranteed individual liberties and existed only by the consent of the governed.

While partisanship has always permeated our political process, our first 43 presidents (Cleveland served two non-successive terms) demonstrated respect of the presidency, understood history, were aware of the constitutional scope and limitations of their office and generally respected Congress and Judiciary as co-equal branches of our nation’s government.

There were exceptions, most dramatically during the Civil War.   When the Executive acted in an overly autocratic manner, the president’s actions were held in check by Congress and/or the courts.  Such rebukes were not the handiwork of spies, traitors or people who hate America.  Rather the reflected members Congress or the Judiciary took their oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” seriously; and/or who simply held differing political views from the president.

Two presidents, Andrew Johnson during Reconstruction and Bill Clinton, were impeached, both in politically-charged environments, although the Senate refused to convict either.  Another, Nixon, resigned in the face of threatened impeachment proceedings.  In none of those cases were the impeachments designed to “overturn” prior elections.

Fast forward to our 45th president who takes delight in boasting he has never read any book about his predecessors, demonstrates a gross ignorance of history and the constitution, and holds contempt for any oversight or checks-and-balances by Congress or the courts.

Despite his claims to the contrary, Trump was not cleared of charges of obstruction by the Mueller Report.  Further, his continued refusals to comply with Congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony from present and former Administration officials are defiant acts of obstruction. 

Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president requesting an investigation into Vice President Biden and his son as a “favor” with the implicit promise of military aid and a White House visit clearly broke the law.  To suppress the text of the conversation, it was moved to a server typically reserved for only very sensitive national security matters.  The full undiluted text of all of Trump’s calls to other world leaders similarly hidden must be disclosed.

Days later he openly appealed to China to do likewise as not a joke nor was his plea during the 2016 election for the Russians to investigate Hillary’s missing emails.  Such actions violate federal election laws.

His veiled call for insurrection if he is removed from office, parroting right-wing pastor Robert Jeffers, “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office, it will cause a Civil War” borders on sedition; but is perhaps not surprising when one recalls his appeal to supporters to beat up a protester at one of his rallies.

Trump’s tweet, “I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of the United States of America!” is utter nonsense.

Any impeachment of President Trump is not an attempt to overturn his election.  Rather his willingness to break election and other laws and obstruct justice; illegal attempts to divert Congressionally-allocated funds; nurturing of mistruths, violence, racism and misogyny; invitations for foreign intervention into American elections; and abetting adversaries while alienated allies” will be the cause.

When it comes time to vote, will members of the Senate fall victim to political biases and potential re-election considerations or will they reflect on their oath of office, objectively consider the charges and evidence and emulate their forbearers who risked their “Lives … Fortunes and … sacred Honor” to do what is right?