It was always a foregone conclusion that the impeachment trial of Donald Trump would result in an acquittal. The founders of our nation didn’t even want impeachment in the Constitution in the first place. They assumed that one who reached the highest office would be a person of great integrity and moral character that the people had chosen. But they were convinced by a few cynical members that some remedy best be included in case a demagogue rose to power, but they made it damned difficult so that pure partisan ranker could not undue the people’s choice of Chief Executive. They left it up to the Senate, a deliberative body of scholared individuals who would try the case of a President impeached by the people’s House, and directed those Senators to do impartial justice. They required a 2/3 majority to convict and remove, ensuring that only grievous acts, like treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors would bring about an abrupt end to a presidency.
There was never a chance that 67 Senators would vote to convict and remove Donald Trump, especially when the Majority Leader specifically stated he was working hand in hand with the President’s counsel and would himself not be an impartial juror. Senator Lindsey Graham of the fine state of South Carolina, himself a House Manager in the impeachment trial of William Jefferson Clinton, also publicly proclaimed he would not be adhering to the oath he would take before God. Most of the Republican Senators spent the entirety of the trial twisting themselves into mental knots trying to excuse away what the President had so obviously done. Their political futures in this earthly realm clearly more important to them than the future judgement of Almighty God in the spiritual realm.
But when the time for final judgment came, one Senator took his oath before God seriously. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a lifelong Mormon, gave a powerful and emotional explanation of his vote to convict the President as charged by the House of abusing his high office by extorting the President of Ukraine for a personal political pursuit of investigations into his political rival. It was one of the few moments in recent memory when I was actually moved by a politician. Congressman Adam Schiff’s closing argument was another. What can I say; I’m an idealist.
Senator Romney could not bear to live with the weight of his conscience after swearing to God that he would do his best to do impartial justice, so he took the trial seriously. He voted for witness testimony, but was in the minority, making this impeachment trial the only one in our history to have no witness testimony. He took copious notes, he studied precedent and the writings of the framers of the Constitution to determine what they meant by a high crime and misdemeanor. The retribution he would face for his vote to convict was all too present in his mind, but in the end, guided by his faith, he did what he firmly believed was the right thing. He stood up in front of God and country and found the President guilty.
It should be obvious that I think Mr. Romney is sadly deluded in his faith, but I have always respected those who are the true believers among us. There aren’t many in my experience, but they are out there. They live their lives as if their religious doctrines were literally true; a far cry from the hypocrites who claim to love Jesus but whose actions betray them. Mitt Romney is an intelligent adult and if he has concluded that his faith is important enough to him, that he believes it is true, who am I to protest? Now if he tried to legislate some of that faith into the public square we’d have a different discussion, but I’ve not seen him do anything like that, and as a statesman, I think he would respect the Constitution and acknowledge that the government shall not establish any religion.
I think I’ve established definitively that two Senators: McConnell and Graham, have no fear of retribution from Almighty God since they preemptively told the world they would violate the oath they would swear before Him. But what are we to make of Senators like Lamar Alexander, Marco Rubio, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Rob Portman who all publicly stated they believed the President was wrong in his actions, but they failed to do impartial justice and vote to convict him? I think they’re all closet atheists. Let’s face it, if you were terrified of spending eternity bathed in unquenchable fire for violating your promise to the Lord, you probably would go ahead and vote Guilty as Charged. No, the terror they felt was all too real; the terror of the reckless Twitter feed that sits in the Oval Office and his army of red hats.
So while atheists get a raw deal in public opinion polls when asked for support in political office, I have a sneaking suspicion that lots of members of Congress worry very little when they put their hands on a Bible and swear before the Almighty. After all, consider what Jesus himself told us all:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of the
judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,
shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall
say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
And of course, Revelation carries a pretty strict warning:
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Man, if I was a true believer, I don’t think I’d run for Congress. So help me God.