January and February are the nadir of the calendar year. It is dark and cold and punctuated only by the revolting holiday of vulgar American consumerism that is the Super Bowl. I am likely to fall into a depressive spiral this time of year, made worse in recent years by political events.
After coming back rested from his golf holiday, Trump likes to start the new year with his most blatant actions. In 2017 it was his post-inauguration onslaught, including the ban on travelers from majority Muslim nations. Last year it was a government shutdown over the wall. This year it is the double whammy of escalating the conflict in Iran and trying to sabotage the impeachment process.
In this fourth discontented winter of the Trump administration, which I pray will be the last, I feel like the nation is being confronted with its complete and utter loss of coherence. It is obvious for anyone to see that Trump has committed crimes. His refusal to cooperate with Congressional investigations is a crime on its face, of course. We also have clear proof that he tried to force the Ukranian government to investigate his domestic political rival, and in doing so unlawfully withheld aid to Ukraine apportioned by Congress. None of this even touches on his brazen use of his office to bring money to his properties, the many credible allegations of sexual misconduct women have leveled against him, and his campaign's links to Russian intelligence.
Despite the obvious and unambiguously clear evidence that Trump has abused his power like no president before him, we are all assuming that the Senate will not convict him. In fact, the Senate might not even allow a real trial to even take place. We are not surprised because we all know, deep down, that our institutions have completely failed. The Republican Senators don't care a whit for the law or Constitution, only for raw power. Anyone who denies this is a fool.
I don't believe we have given needed thought to the implications of this. For an openly criminal president to escape scot free with the aid of his party effectively means that we don't really have a democracy in this country. That cabal's use of gerrymandering and voter supression to win elections when they are in the minority has made this clear, but acquital will make it visible to even the most complacent person.
So what happens then? I get the feeling that the reality of the current situation will just be met with denial. I already know Republicans who never liked Trump but voted for him who have put their heads in the sand and have refused to acknowledge reality. Plenty of Democrats who want to think we can simply go back to the way things used to be, or "work with Republicans" are also willfully blind.
Like authoritarians who have toppled countless other democracies, America's conservative leaders assume that their opposition is too weak, divided and uncommited to stop them. Right now, in this fourth winter of discontent, I have to agree with them. Back in 2016 I worried that we would not learn from our mistakes, and I was right. Twitter is burning up with stupid petty arguments between partisans of different Democratic candidates while the world burns. Instead of taking to the streets we've got our heads shoved up our own asses. When the Senate refuses to convict Trump, I doubt there will be much public reaction. I think deep down most of us already know that the die was cast in November of 2016. I am going to spending this winter of discontent trying to figure out how the hell to move forward from this situation, or just giving into it myself. Maybe I'm the foolish one for believing that this country has a future.