To the editor:
Last year, just before leaving for Costa Rica, I wrote a letter to the editor in which I expressed concerns that by the time I returned to Gloucester in the spring of 2019, the world would be a far more dangerous and unsettled place than it was when I headed south the previous fall.
Sadly, last year’s concerns have become this year’s all too harsh realities.
As left-of-center a liberal as I am, I would love to lay all the blame for the current dangerous and disheartening state of the nation and the world entirely at the feet of Donald Trump. Lord knows, he has made several already bad domestic and foreign situations much worse. But he cannot be blamed for all the ills confronting us today, given many of those ills are as much the result of policies of past administrations, both Republican and Democrat, as they are any recent actions taken by the Trump administration.
For example, the roots of today’s Honduran refugee crisis, and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, are squarely planted in the actions and policies of the Obama administration.
It was the Obama/Clinton foreign policy team that aided and abetted the 2009 military ouster of Honduras’s democratically elected president -- an action that set Honduras on a downward political, social and economic trajectory from which it has yet to recover.
A few years later, it was the Obama/Kerry foreign policy team that gave the Saudi royal family the wink, the nod, the money and the weapons to unleash what many human rights and non-governmental organizations are today referring to as the “Yemeni genocide."
Now, to be sure, the xenophobia, racism, religious intolerance and outright corruption that permeate many of the Trump administration’s policies, actions and rhetoric regarding these issues have made numerous bad and dangerous situations exponentially worse. But for Democrats to refuse to even acknowledge, let alone take any responsibility for, the role some of our party’s leaders have played in contributing to the myriad crises confronting the world today, is beyond disingenuous -- it borders on the dishonest and the hypocritical.
But that said, as I watch events unfolding from el Caribe Sur de Costa Rica this year, the issue that has me convinced the nation and the world will be far more dangerous and unstable places when I return in April than they are now is impeachment.
Donald Trump ought to have been impeached by the House, and tried, convicted, and removed from office by the Senate more than a year ago. But the complexities of the multiple offenses he was accused of and the reality TV show nature of his presidency made it difficult for many Americans to grasp the seriousness of Trump’s actions or the damage he was doing, not only to the Constitution and the principles upon which the country was founded, but to the nation’s security itself.
However, the revelations about his attempts to extort the Ukrainian government by withholding military aid duly appropriated by Congress, unless the Ukrainian president helped dig up dirt on Joe Biden, is such an egregious abuse of presidential power, and a direct threat to our own national security, given the aid was part of a strategy to help thwart Vladimir Putin’s expansionist policies and efforts to splinter the NATO Alliance, that formal impeachment by the House and a speedy trial in the Senate that results in both conviction and removal from office ought to be a no brainer.
But Donald Trump’s incendiary tactics and rhetoric, coupled with the unwillingness of the majority of Republicans to confront him on his behavior, have so deeply divided the American electorate that the impeachment proceedings may exacerbate those divisions to the point where they become irreparable.
Political violence may yet become a by product of Donald Trump’s style of divisive and corrupt governance.
Way back in 1788 in one of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote that impeachment would one day prove a necessary tool to hold an executive accountable for engaging in a variety of abuses of power and “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but that invoking impeachment would also polarize the nation.
His exact words were impeachment “...will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases, it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of the parties, than by real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”
Hamilton may have penned those words back in 1788, but they are as applicable today as they were back then.
We are sailing , thanks to the divisiveness already roiling the country before the decision to move forward on impeachment, into some stormy and dangerous seas that, in many ways, are truly unprecedented.
Add to that the multiple foreign, environmental, and military threats confronting the globe, and it becomes clear there could not be a worse time for the US to be bogged down and divided by the kind of domestic political crisis we are facing today.
Yes sir, the stakes are even higher than they were last year, and there is no guarantee things will get any better as we move toward what will undoubtedly be one of the ugliest presidential campaigns in the nation’s history -- no guarantee at all.
Winter well, Gloucester. Say your prayers and keep your fingers crossed, because we are going to need all the help and luck we can get to muck through what’s coming.
Puerto Viejo de Limon