"The acquittal in itself is democracy at work."
Former United States president Donald Trump was acquitted anew in an impeachment hearing at the Senate. Democrats failed to muster the 67 votes needed to convict Mr. Trump on grounds of high crimes and misdemeanor for his role in inciting the mob that stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6.
In their arguments before US senators, House impeachment managers played never-before-seen footage of the riots that took place as Congress was certifying the election victory of Mr. Trump’s opponent, now-President Joseph Biden.
They also showed how Trump’s words directly caused the rioters to do what they did —in a series of tweets and pronouncements, he consistently said that the elections had been stolen from him, and that his supporters needed to do something to take back their country. During and after the riots, Trump never showed remorse. He only belatedly asked the rioters to go home—while also telling them he loved them and that they were very special.
Of the Republicans who still voted to acquit Trump, some claim that while they believed Trump to be accountable for the violence—five people died and more than 140 were injured in that assault on the seat of American democracy—there was little sense in convicting somebody who was already out of office. Efforts, they say, should be focused on addressing the lingering effects of the coronavirus on homes, health systems, and the economy.
But what is to bar the efforts to contain the effects of the virus while demanding accountability from a man who has thrived on lies and pettiness and hatred? Remember that more than 70 million Americans still voted for Trump in November. While he has been denied access to his social media accounts, he is still a force to reckon with among those who choose to believe his lies, who refuse to act based on science and facts. This is very clear with regard to those who ignored Trump’s role and decided he was not responsible and that he could still run for office in the future.
What happened in the US shows that even in the face of impunity and blatant disrespect for the foundations of democracy, personal and political interests still trump logic, common sense, fairness and decency.
What this essentially tells people like Mr. Trump is that they can get away with the highest forms of misdemeanor just because they were occupying top posts when they committed them.
Then again, this in itself is democracy—there were not enough votes to convict, just as there were not enough votes to convict Trump last year when he was impeached for his dealings with Ukraine.
Thus, the public should accept the results, remember where their leaders’ loyalties truly lie learn from this episode—and know better next time around.