In the Suburbs: I should be excited

Next Wednesday, Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the first female vice president and the first woman of color and Indian heritage to hold the office in our history.

I should be excited! I really have tried, but the events of the past months, and especially last week, have me worried and scared about how this new administration is going to have to begin its work to unite this heavily divided nation.

As a Democrat, the good news for me was knowing by December that a majority of the American people had helped Biden secure the necessary Electoral College votes to make him our next president. And last Wednesday, Jan. 6, the day those votes were certified, should have been a day of excitement and celebration.

Instead, that day turned into an unforgettable nightmare that will forever be etched into our history books. Crowds of rioters and protesters stormed our nation’s Capitol during the early stages of the Electoral College certification process, attacking Capitol security and causing members of our House of Representatives and Senate to run for their lives.

Fortunately, a few people had the good sense to grab the containers of Electoral College votes as they fled the chamber and ensure that none of the members of the violent protests could tamper with the contents. And within hours, Congress, in the purest form of democracy, resumed certifying Electoral College votes. By Thursday morning, Biden and Harris were officially declared the next president and vice president of the United States.

Meanwhile, more eyes focused on our soon-to-be former president, Donald Trump, and the alleged role he may have played in inciting the riots on Wednesday. After all, he had held a rally in the very area where the inauguration was to take place on Jan. 20 and his words certainly seemed to have encouraged loyal followers to march to the Capitol and take back our country in his name. Protesters carried confederate flags, many wore sick t-shirts labeled “Camp Auschwitz” and others displayed racist and anti-Semitic paraphernalia and screamed hateful epithets.

As the grim statistics about casualties and wounded victims emerged throughout the next day, Congress faced an unexpected postscript to this tragedy — the need to remove this lame duck, vengeful president from office before Joe Biden took the oath next week. But more complicated than the task of removing our current president was how to accomplish it.

Ideally, President Trump could simply resign. Of course, I knew that would never happen. Another solution was for Vice President Pence and a majority of the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would remove the president from office due to his inability to properly perform his duties. The vice president sent a polite letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejecting that idea. A few members of Congress recommended censuring the president, which also didn’t happen.

That left only one solution — a possible second impeachment of Donald J. Trump. And on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, legislators completed debates in the House of Representatives on a single article of impeachment — inciting insurrection.

The impeachment resolution, according to National Public Radio, “includes one article, citing ‘incitement of insurrection.’ Sponsors of the resolution maintain they have the votes already to pass it. The resolution states: ‘President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.’”

On Wednesday afternoon, the House voted to impeach Trump. This impeachment makes him the only president to receive the rebuke twice in history. Unlike the impeachment 13 months ago, this time the decision was more bipartisan. Some GOP lawmakers joined Democrats at pointing the finger at the president for using rhetoric that helped spark a violent insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday that left at least five dead.

Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)has indicated he is in favor of the impeachment, because removing Trump could clear a path for rebuilding the Republican Party. But at the same time, he was not willing to begin an impeachment trial in the Senate before Jan. 19. That seemed a little bizarre to me.

So here we are, a week away from what I hope will be the dawn of a new administration uniting our country and suddenly the current president is about to be impeached and the COVID-19 cases are even worse than the first wave last March. Despite security being beefed up 10-fold for the Inauguration, I cannot help worrying that some domestic terrorist or some group of anarchists might try something.

This past Monday, the Biden Inaugural Committee announced that the theme of the event will be America United. The committee said, “At a time of unprecedented crisis & deep divisions, America United reflects the start of a new journey to restore the soul of America, bring the country together, and create a path to a brighter future.”

While I love the words and I am desperately trying to muster the excitement to believe them, I cannot help but be wary that the damage and disappointing legacy of this outgoing president will create some very tough hurdles for the Biden administration to overcome. Nevertheless, I still have hope that America’s future will be brighter and, I hope, more peaceful, under President Biden. Only time will tell.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.