It is hard to imagine that Donald Trump has been president for only seven months and that we have three and a half years left to go. Our nation and our people should not have to wait for his term to end. Donald Trump must go now.
Donald Trump has lost the moral authority to lead our nation. His words and actions have weakened our country, given safe haven to hate and bigotry and diminished the United States in the eyes of the world.
America relies on its moral authority to lead. Countries respect our military might but, more importantly, they respect our commitment to equality and democratic principles. Donald Trump has showed disdain for those principles and is seriously damaging our standing in the world.
I am not someone who takes the issue of impeachment lightly. Although I never even considered voting for Trump and wanted him to leave from the time he raised his hand and lied that he would “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” I have always viewed impeachment as the last possible resort – the nuclear option.
But from his first days in office, Trump has shown disdain for our country, our laws and our people.
Trump has used his position to stuff his own pocketbook in a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Knowing that people like to rub elbows with the president, he raised the fees at his golf courses, accepted payments from foreign governments at Trump hotels and was granted approval by China for 38 Trump trademarks after being consistently denied these trademark approvals over the past decade.
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To show that he was in charge, Trump backed out of the Paris Accord and threatened the climate of our entire planet. His administration has stripped national protections away that are designed to clear our air, clean our water and preserve our national parks.
Trump’s capitulation to Russia and fawning over Vladimir Putin has weakened our country. Further, there is growing evidence that members of his campaign, as well as members of his own family, have colluded with the Russians during the election. His brazen firing of FBI Director James Comey was a clear attempt to obstruct justice.
And then there was Charlottesville.
Facing a tragedy, a leader’s job is to bring people together and to focus on what matters most. In this situation, Donald Trump’s first attempt to respond missed the mark.
Trump’s second attempt, aided by his staff, was much more effective. But then Trump did what he always does: He let us see who he really is. In anger, Trump lashed out and showed us the darkness in his heart. He left most of the country speechless.
Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville was not a mistake. It is precisely who he is and who he always will be.
Much has been written about the domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville. For me, the juxtaposition of separate demonstrations was telling.
On Saturday, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched along a path that ultimately led to the death of a young woman who peacefully stood against them. She was run down by a car driven by a coward – an act reminiscent of recent terrorist attacks across Europe.
Two nights later, more than 1,000 men, women and children came to the same place to remember the life of Heather Heyer and to honor what she stood for. These two events could not have been more different.
Instead of racist chants, those who came to honor Heyer sang songs to bring people together.
Instead of torches in the daytime that brought back images of the KKK, they carried candles at night to light their way.
Instead of hate in their hearts for Jews and people of color, they brought love, understanding and a firm resolve to treat everyone with respect.
The mourners who came to honor Heyer did what President Trump had failed to do. They showed us the light; they focused us on what matters.
In the wake of the Charlottesville attack, others are stepping in to close the breach of leadership left open by our president. CEOs on the president’s advisory boards have resigned in protest. They wanted no part of Trump’s bigotry.
Tech companies such as Google, Facebook and PayPal have decided to banish a growing list of hate and extremist groups. Always viewed as protectors of free speech, these companies have resisted for years calls to take action. The events in Charlottesville pushed the companies into action.
It is hard to predict how our elected leaders in Washington will ultimately react to recent events. While a handful of Republicans have called the president’s words unacceptable, unless there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, I think that it is highly unlikely that a Republican-controlled House of Representatives would vote for articles of impeachment.
In April, I wrote that any effort to impeach Trump would lead to chaos and likely to violence. Even though Trump’s approval rating is historically low, people who support him are zealous in their defense of their president.
If history is any judge, this process would likely take months. During that time virtually nothing else in Washington would get done.
If the House votes for impeachment, the matter moves to United States Senate for a trial. Two-thirds of senators, 67, must vote for removal or the resolution will fail. Forty-eight senators vote in the Democratic caucus. Given that Republicans could barely find three Senators with the courage to save healthcare for millions of their fellow citizens, finding 19 brave Republican souls in the U.S. Senate willing to challenge Trump is unlikely.
Nevertheless, despite the odds, we must begin the process to remove Trump from office.
Of course we still have Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which is proceeding and could form the basis for an impeachment effort. But, in my opinion, we cannot wait for the investigation to conclude and the corresponding criminal charges that may be coming.
Beyond that, we do not need criminal charges to know that Donald Trump is unfit, both mentally and morally, to lead our nation. In his seven months since taking the oath of office, he has shown everyone exactly who he is and who he cares about – himself.
In an April column, I warned about the prospects of having Mike Pence elevated to the office of president. Pence wants to remove LGBTQ rights, roll back women’s rights and the rights of workers.
Pence has supported legislation to limit a woman’s right to choose, and tried to defund Planned Parenthood.
In a perverse way, there is an advantage to having Trump over Pence. Trump is totally undisciplined and therefore transparent. He blurts out what he thinks. He seldom hides behind carefully crafted words – at least not for very long.
Trump wears his bigotry on his sleeve. Pence tries to hide his or cloak it in softer language.
Nevertheless, the pain that Donald Trump has caused and his callous disregard for the people of our country have completely stripped away any moral authority to lead. Increasingly, the vast majority of Americans find him to be an embarrassment, a stain on our government.
A personal experience
I remember a time about 25 years ago. I had taken my family on vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At night, the local news ran a story about a public demonstration being held the next day by citizens who were against having the Confederate flag displayed at certain public buildings.
The next morning, I took my oldest son, Raymond, with me to the demonstration. He was about six or seven years old and I wanted him to see people peacefully standing up for their beliefs. As we drove to the demonstration, I explained why the Confederate flag was such a painful symbol.
Unfortunately, because I was so unfamiliar with the area, it took me much longer to get to the site of the demonstration. By the time we arrived, activities were winding down. Nevertheless, it was a chance for me to talk to my son about our country and our struggle with equal treatment for all of our citizens.
Now Raymond is a father with two sons of his own. What do I tell my grandchildren about our country – a country where the president is cheered by neo-Nazis and white supremacists?
For the sake of our country, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, for the sake of all Americans who might be different from us – different in the color of their skin, different in their religious beliefs, different in their sexual orientation, different in any way – Donald Trump needs to be removed from office.
Our national nightmare must end.
Raymond V. Mariano is a Worcester Sun columnist. He comments on his hometown and global issues that impact it every Sunday in Worcester Sun.