Trump's 'revolution' is destroying America by Jesse L. Jackson Sr.
1/2/2020, 6 a.m.
As the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Trump, it is time for reflection.
The House has indicted the president for abuse of his office — trying to enlist a foreign government to intervene in our election by announcing an investigation of his potential opponent in the upcoming presidential race — and for obstruction of justice in his extreme efforts to block the congressional investigation of his abuses.
This is an indictment focused, for simplicity’s sake, on a single course of action and its cover- up. In fact, the challenge posed by PresidentTrump is far greater than that.
President Trump is leading a counterrevolution against the America that is and the America that will be. He does so by savagely attacking American institutions and by his unrelenting lies designed to produce a cocoon of misinformation — an alternative reality — to con his ardent supporters. He has scorned the U.S. Constitution and its tripartite division of power. He scorns the Congress — both the Democratic House and the Republican Senate — ignores its subpoenas, dismisses its powers and holds himself and his administration immune from its oversight.
He traduces the courts, appointing right wing activist judges while impugning the motives of any justice that rules in ways he does not like. He floods the courts with lawsuits, many groundless, to delay and to avoid accountability both personally and as president.
He abuses the press, accusing the media of being the enemy of the people and of spreading “fake news,” even as he retweets and recycles false conspiracy theories and big lies.
He has dismantled the inter-agency national security process, upended American policy — often with the sole apparent motive of reversing anything President Obama accomplished — while abusing allies, his own appointees and the career professionals with sudden reversals of policy and pronouncement.
He has clearly decided that the presidency is above the law, as well as beyond the reach of Congress and the courts.
While I and many other reformers agree with some of President Trump’s stated goals — to bring the “endless wars” to a close, to transform our trading policy, to pressure the Federal Reserve to keep its foot off the brakes of the economy without clear evidence of rising inflation — his imperious and impetuous actions do more to discredit those goals than to serve them.
In other areas, most significantly in the existential threat posed by catastrophic climate change, Presi- dent Trump has abandoned the most important responsibility of the president to defend the nation’s security. His conscious political strategy is to foster division, in- flaming racial, gender and other divides. This has fed an already rising tide of hatred that is breeding more violence in this land.
Rather than signing the bipartisan immigration reform that he previously had agreed to support, he chose instead to preserve the contention rather than move to solve the challenge. The result of this reckless and ruthless course is a country even more divided.
He clearly has cemented the support of about 40 to 45 percent of the American people. That support has cowed Republican legislators — senators and representatives — who now rise to defend behavior that they know is dangerous and policies that violate their previously cherished conservative principles — from free trade to support for allies to presidents serving as moral examples.
Now, as U.S. senators gear up for holding what looks to be a sham trial on the impeachment charges brought from the House, they might pause for reflection. For many, this vote may be their last historic vote, one that will help define their legacy. All face constituents — President Trump’s so-called “base” — who demand that they support the president no matter what he does.
This is a test of leadership. True leaders don’t follow opinion polls. They mold opinion. They do not allow the fervent few to drown out the call of their conscience. They recognize the obligations of party, but also the call of honest patriotism, of acting in moments of historic decision for the sake of the country. They realize that history will hold them to account, as well as their own children and grandchildren.
President Trump’s minions are demanding abject loyalty. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, already has confessed that he is taking his clues from the White House.
Before bowing to that pressure, senators should pause, reflect, look in the mirror and probe their con- science. Who are they? What are they prepared to stomach?
The writer is founder and president of the national Rainbow PUSH Coalition.