Hopp delivers a powerful argument as to how Trump supporters have directly influenced the polarization of American society and disintegration of American democracy over the past five years
By Gregory Hopp
Trump supporters have failed this country. I want to be clear: I’m not just accusing politicians. I am levying this charge against all those men and women, many of whom are my friends and loved-ones, who persistently and willfully give blind allegiance to this corrupt and noxious president. I don’t make this accusation lightly and I gave Trump and his supporters the benefit of the doubt in the beginning. Allow me to explain.
First, let us establish that Trump is clearly guilty: his lawyers mounted no coherent defense and they change their arguments every time Mitch McConnell coughs. The defense attorneys have, in fact, admitted that Trump committed the acts the House accused him of doing, though they deny that he ought to be impeached for them. The president now brags, openly and loudly, about his obstruction of justice at international events. There is no questioning the facts of the case or his guilt. As to whether or not he should be removed from office, if he should not be impeached for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, there exist no acts for which a president could be removed. Alexander Hamilton made clear in the “Federalist Papers” that impeachment and removal from office were for political offences, such as offenses against the polity or offenses that threaten the independence of our democracy and the balance of powers. These offences do not even have to be crimes, as was the case in the first-ever removal of a federal official from office. Judge John Pickering was impeached and removed for drunkenness and unlawful rulings, neither of which are crimes, but both of which prevented the rendering of fair rulings. Let us turn back to the current president: When discussing the actions of a president, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress are crimes paramount. They entail a usurpation of authority, and demonstrate that he values himself over the law and his oath to uphold it. These are the crimes for which impeachment was created, and there is no legal, moral, or practical reason to not remove that man from office.
Given the nature of Trump’s guilt and the need for removal, I find there are three types of people who are against conviction. First, there are those who don’t understand the facts. I admit that at times it’s hard, even for me, to believe the times we are in and the events which have transpired before our eyes. Additionally, there is an immense amount of misinformation. In addition, many Americans have not been trained to spot bias and compare sources. Sometimes people are just too busy to investigate every news story, especially given the sheer mountain of controversies delivered to our phones daily. Towards these people I mean no disrespect and harbor no anger.
Still, some Americans have actively chosen to ignore the claims and statements of their fellow countrymen, knowing that many are credible, yet they choose to believe in a hyped-up media conspiracy. Their willful ignorance constitutes a betrayal of their all Americans. There are also those who don’t understand that sometimes abstract principles are more important than political disputes. The existence of our democracy is founded on certain principles, and they can seem abstract since we don’t normally have to discuss them. Even if we don’t discuss these principles, loyalty to the democracy and faithfulness of government officials are of the utmost importance for the continuation of our free republic. That word, “faithfulness,” is enshrined in the presidential oath, meaning that officials will exercise their power selflessly, solely for the good of the republic and restraining themselves from acting outside of the balance of powers. Sometimes, when we are discussing these virtues that Trump is accused of abandoning, certain Americans return to partisan issues, despite the fact that these are essentially lower in importance. If we are willing to give one man more power than is his lawful due because he is successful and brings the country good things (though I’m not saying Trump does), we will go the way of Venezuela. We ought to remember that Hugo Chavez was incredibly popular and his regime brought prosperity to his people for a time, but now those people are kept starving and in chains by their government. Again, there are some Americans who simply are not educated enough in the first principles of democracy to know that they must be defended above political gains. This unintentional ignorance is magnified by the fact that we have never had to fight for democracy or truth. Though we have fought wars, we have never been controlled by a monarch in our own land. We are in a near identical position to the Romans who crowned Caesar with laurels. Forgetting their ancestral oath to never again be ruled by a king, the populists in Rome gave more and more power to one man because he was successful, and after this the republic which inspired our own contorted into an empire. This apparently innate desire in democratic populations to give over power to a strong man is exactly why it is the duty of educated Americans to resist. Yet I remember, a few months ago as the accusations were heating up, one friend of mine posting to his Instagram story a campaign ad for Trump citing his low unemployment rate. This student knows the principles and the history which I have just discussed, and yet chose to ignore these and resorted to partisan talking-points. He and other students like him, just like those who choose their own facts, have abandoned their countrymen.
Finally, there are those that at the thought of whom my heart races and my stomach turns: those who understand all of it, who know the importance of faithfulness and know that Trump has broken his oath, and yet do nothing. There is no excuse for these people; they are guilty of desertion. The prime example is Senator Lisa Murkowski, who explained her decision to vote against allowing witnesses to be called in the Senate as follows: “Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.” To Senator Murkowski, let me be absolutely clear: the institution did not fail. You did. The Congress as a designed institution is fantastic, the people in it have failed us, and Senator Murkowski admitted it. She publicly announced that she will not fight for a fair trial. I recognize that this is a difficult time, but these people took an oath. If a soldier deserts during a difficult battle, no one lauds him or excuses him because he says, “I have come to the conclusion that there will be no victory in this war. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the army has failed.” Senator Murkowski and the other Republican senators who have purposefully aided the president in his obstruction are deserters, but this accusation is not just against them. Equally guilty of desertion are those Trump supporters at Fordham and other universities, who are obligated by their education to defend truth and our democracy, yet who turn tail and run at the notion of having to admit they were wrong.
In all honesty, and with no exaggeration, the people I have mentioned above remind me of drug addicts. In my family there are, unfortunately, several drug addicts and alcoholics quite close to me. They act in the same way these Trump supporters do. When confronted with the unpleasant truth of their behavior, addicts respond in the ways mentioned above. They choose to believe alternative facts, arguing that those facts are irrelevant because of some other circumstances, or they admit that they know what they’re doing and that it’s wrong, and that they just don’t care. They just don’t care. These Trump supporters are consigned to falsehood and are afraid to admit they were wrong in believing in Trump. Bluntly, they won’t fight for democracy, and they don’t deserve it. The rest of us, on the other hand, are like the family of a drug addict: we are duty-bound to care about them and for the common good to fight the consequences of their mistakes. The acquittal of President Trump will damage this country and public trust in the Congress for decades. Not just Trump, but Congress and even many of the American people surrendered their swords to vice and avarice, and some of them act as though they have been castrated. This is especially true of the droves of supposed Christians who equate Trump with the Messiah. Those of us who have not deserted will have to work with the mangled political system we have inherited, to not degrade Trump’s supporters, but to work with passion and good will to one day merit that great aspiration of an upright republic. I pray that out of our generation a class of patriots will be raised for whom we will have no reason to doubt our pride.
As I am currently in England, watching my country tear itself apart from across the ocean, I am reminded of John Adams who was in England when the Constitution was written. I will end by addressing any of the above-mentioned types of Trump supporters who might read this with a brief lesson from Adams’s life. President Adams, for all his flaws, when he saw what had become of his own party and that there was no excuse for their blatant efforts to suppress their opposition, threatened to resign. Were he to resign, his vice-president, Thomas Jefferson, would take on the office, a man with whom Adams and the Federalists disagreed on everything. Adams was willing to sacrifice all of his political goals to prevent his party from destroying this nation’s Justice. You are not willing to do the same. You put your party, your political goals, your pride, your stubbornness and your outright refusal to acknowledge patriotism in those who disagree with you over the carrying out of justice. And as far as I’m concerned, you don’t deserve to be part of this democracy or any other, because you are all cowards.