Builders will tell you that cracks need to be dealt with. In fact, they advise that a crack in a plaster wall actually needs to be enlarged, with the edges broadened, and then the whole fracture should be filled with joint compound (modern plaster), so that the entire area is made stronger. If a crack is merely papered over, it will simply extend and enlarge, weakening the structure.
Relationships are similar in that, if minor controversies or fissures are continually ignored and dismissed, rather than resolved, an extreme stressor can cause collapse. “Getting a divorce over the uncapped toothpaste tube,” is a well-known meme, begun decades ago by an advice columnist. If irritations, resentments, and secret sorrows accumulate in silent misery, the eventual meltdown and explosion may be irreparable.
The U.S. today is a country of deep divisions; we see that every day. Class and wealth differences, religious divergences, and most glaring recently, political disagreements. Of course, in some cases, the religious and political convictions follow the same fault lines.
The tectonic plates of the right and left rumbled last week, sending shock waves through the country. The edifice that is our government teetered for an instant, but quickly stabilized. Most of us were traumatized. Some were aghast at the severity of the disturbance. Others were unsurprised, because the signs were there, in bold type. A large handful helped create the conditions and the impetus (Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, to name the two worst). Still others reportedly did their parts to set the rumble in motion (Representatives Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and Mo Brooks). Of course, the person in charge at the White House triggered the plate shift itself.
As the aftershocks continue, the legislative branch of government is facing the dilemma of what to do about the tremors targeting its collective person, its People’s House, and its capacity to do its job. In essence, one part of the coequal triumvirate that runs the country detonated a bomb that opened up cracks in the structure as a whole. The Constitution provides two remedies for such a bomber: the 25th amendment and the impeachment process. The first option relies on the cooperation of the Vice President, along with the Cabinet and Congressional leaders. The second option involves initiation by the House and trial by the Senate.
Vice President Pence has already indicated that he will not invoke the 25th amendment, though many in the House and even two in the Senate (as of this writing) have called for him to do so. His reasoning for protecting a man who effectively called for his head is obscure; I can only speculate it’s due to a warped party loyalty that continues to hold sway among most of the GOP.
The House, having filed an article of impeachment, has said that, failing action by Pence, it will vote on impeachment likely by the end of the day tomorrow (January 13, 2021).
As usual, press and punditry opinions are all over the map. The two camps seem to be composed of those who are convinced that impeachment at this late date will accomplish nothing and will create more hostility between the right and the left; and those who believe that, no matter what, the incumbent’s actions last week cannot stand, that there must be accountability.
I fall solidly into the latter camp. Yes, the cult surrounding the incumbent is strong, vocal, and vicious. They have infiltrated both law enforcement and government. They will not rest until the object of their devotion has his way. They are not the first cause of the right/left fissure, but they are responsible for widening it and upsetting the tension that keeps the plates in line. Letting the events of January 6th subside into an uneasy, temporary stasis is ignoring the potential for further rumbles. Instead, all of those responsible for the shake-up must be held out in the sunlight and called what they are: seditionists and insurrectionists. That label encompasses the Orange Menace, who represents the bomb that could set off the Big One. Those who vow to create more quakes must be confronted head-on and made to understand that they will not shake the country apart. Try as they will to create a schism powerful enough to shatter the government, they will not succeed, and will face justice for their attempts. We must do the necessary and repair the fissures firmly, taking the measures necessary to ensure stability, even if major repairs need to be undertaken, however difficult to execute. Those who seek to cause more shockwaves must be rendered incapable of doing so.
If we keep papering over the cracks in our society, pretending they don’t exist or are inconsequential, the next cataclysm may bring the entire building down.