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Where to now?

The U.S. House of Representatives made Donald J. Trump the first U.S. president ever to be impeached twice on Wednesday. There’s little chance that Trump, as a result, will be removed from office one second earlier than his allotted time. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he will not call the Senate back for an emergency session to hold the impeachment trial, so the Senate won’t hear the impeachment and vote on it until after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week.

So why impeach the president at all? Is it simply, as his most loyal enablers like Rep. Jim Hagedorn suggest, the latest in a long history of persecution, lies and harassment that his enemies started before he was even elected? Or is it because, as House leadership insists, Trump’s actions since the election and leading up to last week’s insurrection at the Capitol have finally tipped the scale of outrage and justice must be done?

There’s some truth in both positions. Trump has certainly invited criticism from the start of his campaign for his characterization of those seeking to enter the country from the south as criminals, murderers, drug dealers and rapists, his contemptuous words about a real American hero, Sen. John McCain, his inability to suffer any criticism without punching back, and his constant lying. But he managed to brazen it out until last week, when the mob of supporters he invited to Washington responded to his call to fight and to be strong against the authentication of the election results marched on the Capitol and laid siege to Congress. That action cannot be ignored.

So what now? As Trump prepares to leave office, this country seems as fractured as it has been since the Civil War. We have heard calls for unity and civility from both sides, but as long as a vast number of people continue to believe the Big Lie that Trump’s so-called “landslide” victory was stolen, there’s little chance of that.

Time, it is said, heals all wounds. It will take a lot of time, we fear, to close this schism.

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