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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Closing Argument

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of lawThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Rep. Adam Schiff closes the House argument in the impeachment trial:
History will not be kind to Donald Trump--I think we all know that-- not because it will be written by Never Trumpers but because whenever  we have departed from the values of our Nation, we have come to regret it, and that regret is written all over the pages of our history. If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history; but if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath. If only you will say ``enough.''
We revere the wisdom of our Founders and the insights they had into self-governance. We scour their words for hidden meaning and try to place ourselves in their shoes. But we have one advantage that the Founders did not. For all their genius, they could not see but opaquely into the future. We, on the other hand, have the advantage of time, of seeing how their great experiment in self-governance has progressed.
When we look at the sweep of history, there are times when our Nation and the rest of the world have moved with a seemingly irresistible force in the direction of greater freedom: more freedom to speak and to assemble, to practice our faith and tolerate the faith of others, to love whom we would and choose love over hate--more free societies,
walls tumbling down, nations reborn.
But then, like a pendulum approaching the end of its arc, the outward movement begins to arrest. The golden globe of freedom reaches its zenith and starts to retreat. The pendulum swings back past the center and recedes into a dark unknown. How much farther will it travel in its illiberal direction, how many more freedoms will be extinguished before it turns back we cannot say. But what we do here, in this moment, will affect its course and its correction.
Every single vote, even a single vote by a single Member, can change the course of history. It is said that a single man or a woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you who will say ``enough''?
America believes in a thing called truth. She does not believe we are entitled to our own alternate facts. She recoils at those who spread pernicious falsehoods. To her, truth matters. There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than the idea that there is no truth.
America also believes there is a difference between right and wrong, and right matters here. But there is more. Truth matters. Right matters. But so does decency. Decency matters.
When the President smears a patriotic public servant like Marie Yovanovitch in pursuit of a corrupt aim, we recoil. When the President mocks the disabled, a war hero who was a prisoner of war, or a Gold Star father, we are appalled because decency matters here. And when the President tries to coerce an ally to help him cheat in our elections and then covers it up, we must say ``enough.'' Enough.
He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What is right matters even less. And decency matters not at all.
I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him but because we have proven our case and it matters to you. Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.
In Federalist 55, James Madison wrote that there were certain qualities in human nature--qualities I believe, like honesty, right, and decency--which should justify our confidence in self-government. He believed that we possessed sufficient virtue that the chains of despotism were not necessary to restrain ourselves ``from destroying and devouring one another.''
It may be midnight in Washington, but the sun will rise again. I put my faith in the optimism of the Founders. You should too. They gave us the tools to do the job, a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain: impeachment. They meant it to be used rarely, but they put it in the Constitution for a reason--for a man who would sell out his country for a political favor, for a man who would threaten the integrity of our elections, for a man who would invite foreign interference in our affairs, for a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies--for a man like Donald J. Trump.
They gave you a remedy, and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath, and they meant for you to observe it. We have proven Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him.