Paul Thayer Florence: The American people will remember the day we acquitted a demagogue

There will be no hope for unity as long as Republicans stick by Donald Trump.

In this image from video, Bruce Castor, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, speaks after the Senate reached a deal to skip witness testimony during the second impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

The Senate’s vote to acquit former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday, while expected, was deeply disturbing to me.

As both the prosecutors and the defense wrapped up their arguments, many Republican senators thought that the prosecution’s presentation was good but it did not do enough to gain more votes for conviction.

First, the GOP senators went to the Constitution to find a wormhole for avoiding a debate on Trump’s actions. While many senators flaunted their belief of unconstitutionality as the main reason for Trump’s acquittal, nowhere in the Constitution does it ever say that you cannot try a former president.

Other Republican senators said that they did not see enough of a direct connection between the rioters and Trump to vote for conviction. The prosecution presented their evidence. Trump had talked about holding a rally at the Ellipse in Tweetland since November, even once quoted as saying “be there, will be wild!” How much more evidence does the GOP need?

If GOP members found the prosecution’s argument to be compelling, then what was holding them back? Many GOP members still believe that Trump is still the face of their party. If he is, then that is very dangerous. What worries me, besides this GOP crisis of conscience of whether to break with Trump or not, is what Trump would still have the power to do if he ran for office again.

As Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California and member of the prosecution team, said on Thursday, “I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.”

The Republican Party’s refusal to break with Trump is disturbing, and the American people will remember the day we acquitted a demagogue who would not concede an election because of false claims of widespread fraud and corruption and inciting his supporters on Jan. 6 to “fight like hell.”

If the Republican Party sticks to Trump, there will be no hope for unity and. in the words of President Joe Biden, “There is no unity without accountability.”

For those who voted to acquit Trump for his egregious actions, history will remember you for your lack of courage to act.

Paul Florence

Paul Thayer Florence, Salt Lake City, is currently a junior at Judge Memorial Catholic High School.

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