A month has passed since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and collective outrage over the siege is waning.
Many — even some Democrats — ask: Wouldn’t it have been better to let bygones be bygones, rather than irritating the nation’s political division by putting former President Donald Trump through an impeachment trial again?
Sickened by four years of poisonous politics, our country desperately needs healing that can be brought only by unity and a forward-looking posture.
But more than that, we need truth and we need justice.
The riot at the Capitol illuminated both the fragility of our democracy and the ability of a tyrant to twist the power of the Oval Office in an attempt to overturn a valid election.
If Trump could do it, future presidents could do it as well, particularly now that they have a template to follow.
So the second impeachment trial of Trump, set to begin Tuesday in the U.S. Senate, has deeper ramifications than the potential castigation of the former president.
The central question to be considered this time around is much more clear cut than in Trump’s first impeachment trial: Did he incite the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill?
Joe Biden campaigned for “the soul of the nation” and won. Now, it’s time for Republicans to reclaim the soul of their party. A few have expressed willingness to consider the facts objectively; the majority appear hopelessly entangled in the former president’s political web.
It’s unlikely that enough of the 50 Republican senators will vote with the 50 Democrats to convict Trump. A two-thirds Senate majority, 67 votes, is needed. Without conviction, there would be no path for the Senate to preclude Trump from running for president again in 2024.
But the impeachment trial itself, regardless of the outcome, will set an important precedent: Presidents who rally an insurrection in an attempt to stay in power will be impeached and tried in the Senate.
Hopefully, it will never come to that again. But, as Trump has taught us, you never know.
While it’s only natural that collective outrage over the Jan. 6 insurrection is muted by the passing of time, we can’t afford to forget the lesson learned.