On behalf of US

Dear President Biden,

Whenever the WP’s Robin Gavhin contributes an editorial I try to save it for last so that I can take her with me into whatever I’m doing next. She has a way of being able to do her truth telling quietly – no bombast, no righteous indignation, no loudness whatsoever. I’m sure she has her moments, and who knows, maybe she does a fair lot of editing to get the tone of her pieces just right, but what comes shining through is a steely determination to say what she knows needs to be said in a straightforward, calm, compassionate manner.

I hadn’t put all this together about her writing until this morning when I realized that she was doing exactly the same thing she described the House Impeachment managers doing in her editorial describing their presentations yesterday. Here is her opening paragraph:

“On Wednesday afternoon, when each of the House impeachment managers stepped to the microphone to help lay out the case against former president Donald Trump, none raised their voices. Some of them even reduced it to a near whisper. They resisted the temptation to express fury in the form of spittle-spraying speeches or wild-eyed monologues full of moral indignation. They spoke precisely and calmly as the horror of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol played out in one exhibit after another.”

She goes on to remind us that:

“These House managers were lawyers and witnesses and victims simultaneously. And as they spoke to the American public, they emphasized their multiple roles as victims and witnesses, while noting that some of the very people sitting in the Senate chamber are accomplices, too.”

Laura and I were talking last night about the Impeachment Managers having decided not to call witnesses during the Impeachment Trial and at that point in the evening I was sorely disappointed by this decision. As I was falling asleep, though, I maybe started channeling Givhan and realized that while they could have called people like Brad Raffensperger to speak on the pre-funk aspects of the self-coup, they didn’t need to call witnesses about the insurrection itself because everyone present during the Trial was a witness (if not also an accomplice). The people presenting the case, the people casting their votes on the verdict, the people taking verbatim notes of the proceedings, the people guarding the doors, the people making sure there’s fresh coffee, the people cleaning the bathrooms – they are all witnesses, they are all victims. And some of them are accomplices.

I don’t know whether any of the Managers made the explicit connection to those tricky co-identities that a large proportion of the Republicans embody – witness/victim/accomplice – and the very (very) strong likelihood that had the mob been successful in locating either the House or Senate chambers before all of the lawmakers were evacuated, the mob would not have differentiated between them and their sibling Democrats. They all would have been in grave danger. I think maybe it was Swalwell who said something along the lines that the mob was hunting all of them, but it would be helpful to make even more explicit that once you set something like this in motion, you are likely to be taken down by it yourself. An angry mob isn’t about to stop to ask the person wearing the Congressional pin or the staffer hiding behind an over-turned conference room table whether they are friend or foe – they are just going to lash out. Once lizard brain is engaged and frontal lobes are disengaged the ability to do any meaningful sorting flies out the window.

Givhan didn’t comment on it in her piece, but the picture at the top of the column shows Representative Madeliene Dean leading the Impeachment Managers in prayer. Whether one believes that prayer actually works to pull in divine positive energy or that it’s a tool for pulling people together in common cause, I find it soothing and hopeful that this is how they started these incredibly consequential days – (presumably) asking the universe and one another for the strength and the support they needed to carry out the most important work of their lives on behalf of US.

May we all be safe from political calculators who would throw democracy under the bus.
May we all be willing to hold such cowards to account.
May we all have the strength to deal with whatever comes of the trial.
May we accept that a significant portion of US is lost in a very dangerous alternate reality.

Tracy Simpson

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