Dear fellow Democrats,

An asterisk is just a punctuation mark. It denotes a footnote, an exception, or a caveat. It doesn’t usually provide anything more than background or context. But today it’s a victory. Because for only the third time in history, a president will forever live with one next to his name.

Trump has demeaned himself and the office he’s held for three years. We’ve watched as he denigrated women (grab them by the…), undermined the rule of law (obstructing the constitutional authority of Congress to investigate wrongdoing by the Executive), and sold out America’s interests to foreign powers (ceding Syria to Russia). The factual basis for impeachment was simple: the President cannot abuse his authority by withholding foreign aid until another country investigates his political rivals. Nor can he obfuscate and stonewall legitimate congressional inquiries. Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors extend far beyond the confines of those two allegations, but the evidence of those two was overwhelming and anyone who actually read or listened to the facts — not just how pundits spun them — could only arrive at the conclusion that they were well founded. And now every time Trump’s name is listed among presidents, he will have an asterisk denoting that he was impeached and seen for the criminal he is.


Of course, none of that will matter to the GOP or Trump’s cult-like following. Republicans have inextricably linked their fates and fortunes with Trump, spinelessly terrified of being the subject of one of the President’s impulsive late night tweets. His followers are so consumed with their irascible hatred of anyone or anything that challenges their Fox News manipulated worldview, no genuine facts could ever displace their unquestioning loyalty to the myth of a man they’ve built and accepted Trump to be.

Mitch McConnell has already confirmed that the Senate will not convict Trump on the impeachment charges. The Senate is controlled by Republicans so terrified of Trump’s nationalist fanatics that they will gleefully and vociferously abandon their oaths of office and vote to acquit, asterisk be damned.

Trump and his supporters will call his acquittal a vindication. And it will be a sad moment for constitutional checks and balances. Trump has loudly and frequently proclaimed the House impeachment process as a sham, but the real sham will be the kangaroo court of a trial in the Senate. Republicans have shouted about due process in the House impeachment process, but will be silent when the GOP Senate holds a ”trial” in which the jurors have already announced their intended verdict before the first witness is called. They’ll acquit because voting to convict would be tacit acknowledgment of their own guilt in propping up Trump’s lies, deception, and corruption.

And no asterisk will move them. But the asterisk isn’t for them. It’s for the rest of us who see reality for what it is and Trump for who he is. We know the asterisk won’t change the course of history today, next week, or next month. But it is history, and will stay there forever.

So while the outcome in the Senate is a foregone conclusion, I will take comfort in the asterisk. It will tell future generations that we knew, we saw, we understood. And for today, that will have to do.

John
New Hampshire

This letter was submitted to the ‘Open Letters’ series. If you would like to contribute by writing a letter of your own, please contact Greg at [email protected]