Impeachment: A Fair Fight?

Care what you will and say what you want about President Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi’s decision to move forward with Articles of Impeachment will only solidify the base of the anti-Trumpers and the pro-Trumpers. In the meanwhile, Washington’s “Great Distraction” will paralyze the nation. I’m tired of feeling like I need to choose a side in the moral morass of our modern culture whether it’s about Trump, or anything else.

I want to pull a Rip Van Winkle and wake up when all the distractions are done. Of course, this isn’t an option for either a good citizen or Christian who wants there to be justice and change for the better. I cannot be like the ostrich that buries its head in the sand and says, “Because I can’t see it, it’s not happening.” Now we know it’s happening, but what are we going to do about it? Are we going to go quietly into the night, stay on the sidelines, or are we going to do something productive?

Someone recently said that the greatest threat to democracy isn’t vitriol, it is civility. In this impeachment climate, I long for rational civility, but civility and tolerance has made us more divided. If we believe that some things are right and some things are definitely wrong, no matter what the context or who it involves, then civility is the enemy of truth and justice. For “nice” moral people to be quiet and acquiesce to the rancorous squeaky wheels on the extremes is a dereliction of duty. Following St. Paul’s dictum, “In your anger, do not sin,” does not mean that people who believe in Absolute Truth should roll over and play dead when attacked as bigots.

I’m all for everyone’s civil rights including free speech and the right to assemble, but the first rule of common law and parliamentary procedure is that, “The minority must be heard, but the majority must prevail.” The problem is that the loudest voices on the ends of spectrums have silenced the majority of those of us in the middle, and they have stalemated any hope of clarity or unanimity in important matters.

To say we need more vitriol doesn’t mean that we need to hear from the extremists, but from the folks in the center. What do they or we have to say? In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. famously lamented the “white moderate” who “prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” He also acknowledged the importance of tension to achieving justice. “I have earnestly opposed violent tension,” King wrote, “but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” Americans should not fear that form of tension. They should fear its absence.

So, we need to embrace tension because it helps reveal our core values. Tension provides clarity about what’s really important to us. Tension can lead to open honest dialogue rather than strong-arming or shallow hail-fellow-well-met pleasantries. In authentic democracy there is due process that makes room for both differences of opinion and fairness. Civility without enough vitriol makes people hide their real feelings, and sides just get more and more entrenched.

Maybe you’ve heard the story of the guy who fell overboard into the water. Another guy tried to rescue him, only to grab arms, legs, whatever and finding each time that a prosthetic appendage came loose. The man in the water kept yelling, “Save me!” In frustration, the would-be rescuer said, “I would, if you would only stick together!” I wonder if that’s an analogy for the United States and what God is trying to say to us and our two-party system. Can we stick together for our country’s sake while we embrace a little vitriol? Is it possible to have a fair fight? We will see soon enough, won’t we?

9 thoughts on “Impeachment: A Fair Fight?

  1. Thanks for these thoughts, Tim. The essence of what you have written also applies to the UK! Is this the next evolutionary step in Western democracy? Or the end of empires?? Shalom.

    1. John, Help me out and give me the similarities with your UK experience. The rancor I hear in the House of Commons is certainly similar. Tension can be good, but what do you mean by “evolutionary progress?”

      tim

      1. In 50 years of watching and at times being involved in UK politics I can not remember a time when political life was so polarised. Our ‘right’ is not dissimilar to yours; our ‘left’ is way further out – so where do those of us in the middle ground, either centre-right or centre-left place their vote? The most dispiriting voice I hear more and more is one of disenchantment with politics and politicians – it will be interesting to see the turn-out figures on Thursday, and I pray that the young generation of first time voters may rescue us. But my evolution comment is a question over how valid our liberal democracy now is, with the current polarisation, and the rise of nationalism – “Make ???? great again” across the world. As a nation we seem to be trying to convince ourselves that we can survive better on our own, without the help of those from other countries, or economic links to our close neighbours. Even though the strong evidence is that neither is the case. I believe that the very “united” kingdom is at stake … we shall see! Friday could see the UK be a very different place!

  2. I voted for Trump in 2016 and will again in 2020. Sometimes you have to weigh the good someone does with the loose tongue that gets them in trouble. In my mind Trump fits in this category.
    The rest of the world would like to have what we have and it looks many times Trump is the only person standing in their way of them taking it.

    1. Steve, It’s high time to have our UM bishops to stand up for the right things. It’s more important to do the right things than do things right. Trump breaks the mold and some people don’t like it. The results speak for themselves. It’s a good tension that quick starts us past the inertia that good people often get stuck in. At GC 2020 we need to get the whole MTP passed! Appreciate you, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

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