It’s day 3 of the trial, and it’s another day for House managers to present the case against former President Donald Trump.
More than half of their allotted 16 hours remain, but they may or may not use all of it, and they may or may not be introducing new evidence. What they will do is make their strongest points in a way designed to impact viewers and outside listeners. This is for a simple reason.
The House managers are facing a situation where most of the jurors have made their decisions about guilt or innocence before the trial even begins. There have been complaints from both Republicans and Democrats about the fairness of the proceedings. “How can Trump be exonerated if more than half of the jurors go in as enemies, deciding he’s guilty?” “How can Trump be found culpable if almost half of the jurors are possible co-conspirators, deciding he’s innocent?”
There are two factors at play here. The one which should be dominant, that our system was designed to be run by men and women of strong personal honor, is not. This has been seen repeatedly in the highly partisan impeachment splits of Clinton and Trump’s first impeachment. The second factor is the populace.
With people watching, including the most rabid proponents of those impeached, Senators are feeling extra pressure to vote as their constituents want rather than what any conscience they might possess would demand. This normally plays to their existing biases, firming the likelihood that Senators vote as their state most recently voted on the Presidency.
This case is special. Not just because of the severity of the action which led to charges, but because the President in question is out of power and because many of the Senators were personally endangered. Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he is not going to pressure Republican Senators to vote in line, meaning that the only influences they should feel are the voices of their constituents and donors.
If enough people watch the proceedings, are outraged, and call their Senators to demand action… we may yet buck the odds and see Trump pay an immediate penalty. The chances are low – partisanship is a nightmarishly difficult monster to beat – but the possibility is there.
This is why the most Trump-centric Senators are visibly ignoring the evidence and speakers or trying to raise cheap points of deflection (looking at you, Mike Lee). They’re telling their people not to watch, not to listen, and to simply pay attention to what they’re told by their talk radio or television masters. The best counter to that is to watch, and encourage all of your friends and family to watch, and to thus encourage everyone to demand action from their legislators.
Democracy can still work, but people have to be engaged. And with that said…
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