Another impeachment trial has concluded. Senators once again failed to convict Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. Sadly, both of Oklahoma's senators hid behind an erroneous technicality vote with the minority that shielded the former president from full accountability.
Yes, a minority. Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, acknowledged the reality that Trump helped incite the attack on the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Only 43 voted in Trump's favor, with some saying later their vote was based on the same incorrect reading of the Constitution as Oklahoma's senators claimed. At least the result mirrored public opinion, with 57 percent of Americans wanting to see Trump convicted.
The technicality that Republican senators are hoping buys them breathing room with swing voters is based on the theory that officials cannot be impeached after they leave office. Despite the majority of opinion of constitutional experts - and the weight of common sense - saying otherwise, they clung to that narrative. They insisted that even though the actions in question occurred while Trump was still president, and that the House of Representatives had impeached him while he was still in office, the Senate was incapable of hearing the charges.
Then, when judgment day arrived, they insisted they were not technically able to act, since Biden had become president during the intervening period. Never mind that the Senate had acted twice before in similar circumstances and that the Senate had dispensed with that question twice before the trial began. Republican senators were not in the mood to show leadership by using their power to disqualify someone from holding federal office.
That is what was at stake in the trial. A majority of both the voting public and the Electoral College have already removed Trump from office, so the only remaining consideration was whether he should be able to seek one again. The answer is no, he should not. That answer is not based on policy differences, if for no other reason than Trump has no coherent set of policies other than self-interest. It also is not based on how terrible a person he is or on a distaste for his belligerency. It is based on how those things all came together to cause him to try to disrupt the certification of the votes that would remove him from power. And that he did it by fomenting acts of violence.
A tapestry of behavior makes it clear that America elected a sociopath to the presidency. Just as you might expect from a sociopath, he was desperate to cling to the power that not only fed the egocentrism, selfishness, and need for control over others intrinsic to that personality disorder, but that also served as a shield against the repercussions of previous behavior to which the disorder had led. Those behaviors should be considered in their totality.
Unfortunately, space limitations prevent a full accounting of the anti-democratic (lowercase "d") actions that threaten the foundations of our republican (lowercase "r") government. Even taken in isolation some of the actions that would make the list would merit removal and disqualification for office. Taken together, there can be no legitimate doubt of the need to bar Trump from "hold[ing] and enjoy[ing] any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States." His presidency was a disaster. His political philosophy, if self-aggrandizement can be called such a thing, is a cancer.
Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to do the right thing again once again. Fortunately, one half of the remedy offered by impeachment has been decisively applied by voters.
Jason Nichols is District 2 Democratic Party chair, an instructor of political science at Northeastern State University, and former mayor of Tahlequah.