No reconciliation without truth

Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Opinion

No reconciliation without truth

courtesy WBEZ

by New Maine Times Editorial Board

Many Republicans oppose efforts to bring President Donald Trump to justice in the wake of the Capitol riot, using the term "reconciliation" somewhat, shall we say, liberally.

But when there has been such injury, there is another half of the reconciliation process. That's the truth process.

Truth and reconciliation is a means by which forging unity is possible, though not guaranteed. Until both halves of this hard work is done, unity is not possible, or it is so fragile that it may not survive the process.

In any case, Trump should face justice. Impeachment and conviction, followed by disqualification from any further high office is the smallest price he should expect to pay for the five deaths and multiple severe injuries, to say nothing of the terrorism of the 535 lawmakers inside, their staffs and guests, and members of the press, and the rank attempt at insurrection and sedition.

He should also face civilian justice, in our view. The new Attorney General and the Justice Department may very well have some strong ideas about investigating Trump, his immediate family, his attorney, and others who had a hand in this latter-day Reichstag Fire. If evidence can be found, these individuals should be tried and convicted, and imprisoned. Civil penalties such as accountability to those who died, were injured, were exposed to and infected by COVID-19, those who were merely terrorized for six long hours, and those who had belongings trashed and stolen will also fall due and should be paid in full.

Trump is soon to face a host of other issues, including state charges in New York for falsifying business records, possible criminal charges for election tampering in Georgia, financial disaster piled upon financial disaster, and personal problems stemming from his time in office and his behavior toward family and people who once counted Trump among their friends. Politically, on his watch, he lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency. But none of those problems are enough payment for his obvious attempt to overthrow the government on Wednesday.

Here are the issues that Republicans must deal with before the process can move forward with justice to the victims.

1. Accept that the election was free and fair. This is among the most important issues, and Trump must also admit to this truth. The rioters believed, in their heart of hearts, that the presidential election was stolen. Trump and his minions, including those in the House and Senate who enabled them, must state, categorically, unequivocally, that this belief, promulgated by Trump himself, was misguided and is untrue.

2. Accept responsibility for the harm done in every aspect of Trump's presidency, from the policy to rip children from their parents at the border, some five hundred still not reunited, to the attempt to equalize the actions of the white supremacists in Charlottesville with the actions of those who protested them, to the tepid response when Black Americans were abused and murdered by police, to the truth behind the Mueller Report and Trump's first impeachment, to the disastrous incompetence surrounding COVID-19 response and the actions taken by the president during the 2020 election, to the incitement to insurrection that led to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. 

3. Once there are sincere apologies for all of these things, and Trump and his creatures hear how their victims were hurt by these actions, then, and only then, can there be a movement toward unity. That doesn't  mean there won't be other penalties, but the abolition of the GOP  need not be among them.

We call on our own Republican senator, Susan Collins, to acknowledge the pain and suffering that these actions have caused Americans, including Mainers, and at the very least, vote to impeach and disqualify Donald Trump when the inevitable trial occurs. Trump did not "learn his lesson", and may be beyond saving, but his example will inform how American government continues. If it continues.

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