Dear Madams and Sirs,
It has come to the forefront of the minds of the people that most of your decisions in this once, maybe twice in a lifetime trial will be based on party, at best, or reelection chances. The theory in the news right now is that most of you will vote on party, and those who are particularly sure or particularly unsure about reelection may diverge in many cases in order to secure votes (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/01/senate-republicans-trump-impeachment-trial/604513/).
This seems, pardon me, extremely short sighted and uninformed, let alone dangerous and irresponsible. I know you have heard quite enough about the latter two, however, please allow me to explain the former descriptors.
The fact of the matter is, your loyalty to your party will mean absolutely nothing in 2120 or possibly even 2070. I assume that you are motivated by being remembered. This is not to say that you are pulled by power and fame. It is to say that most people who strive to make a difference do not want to do so without causing a ripple or two. I am sure you understand that the light you are remembered in is a factor in your long term influence. As such I believe someone must remind you of certain historical context and lessons.
First let’s take a lesson from a somewhat recent event that I’m sure we can all laugh about: Kanye West’s pronouncement in support of Trump that the Republican party was the right choice for black voters because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. (https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/8412985/kanye-west-republican-freed-slaves-lincoln). We’ll talk briefly about the historical reason why that is meaningless later, but first let’s use this as an example of how your actions alone matter more than your party allegiance. Lincoln is remembered as the man who freed the slaves and not because of his party affiliation. It really doesn’t matter how loyal of a republican Lincoln was. I could google it, but I doubt there would be all that much there. Why? Because a politician is not remembered by their ability to follow the crowd. Rather, they are remembered for the opposite. Think of your political heros. Can you honestly say that this doesn’t apply to them?
I shall be brief about the possibility of political realignment as you are of course familiar with the concept (https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/07/14/331298996/why-did-black-voters-flee-the-republican-party-in-the-1960s) .
Some say that the realignment of the 1960s was a complete switch. Others say it is far more nuanced than that. Regardless, it shows that political parties are changing, evolving, and may easily evolve into something you don’t actually want to be associated with. Some believe it is happening again at this very moment. (https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/are-our-parties-realigning) Political parties are not something to throw away your values for, to throw away American values for.
You must also consider how your actions will be used as justification in the future. You must remember that allowing is not far from normalizing. In Rachel Maddow’s Lev Parnas interview, he claims that he didn’t know anything was wrong with what he was doing because that’s how they did business in the Ukraine. As Schiff said, “That’s what they do in the old country, that Colonel Vindman’s father came from, that my great-grandfather came from, that some of you may come from.” You very well may go down as those who made this statement untrue, who began the allowance of bribery and extortion by American political officers for personal gain. You may not think that what Trump did matters because it didn’t go through, or because he was withholding aid instead of attacking, because no permanent damage was done. Things like this grow once they are seen as acceptable.
When children learn about political figures, they learn about their family, their actions, and the years they served. Their party is one word on the flashcard and usually easy to forget. What they stand for and who they were, those are the things that matter.
Jade Laurén Neal