Two narratives on impeachment: 1) What is legal, constitutional? What builds up a responsible nation with checks and balances as a human community? 2) Can we avoid corrupt leadership by diverting attention, blaming others, claiming to be victim, complaining about the process? True — there is a mix of both sets of ideas in each narrative presented, however on the whole, #1 is the response of those who seek restoration (we might call it adult or grown-up) and #2 is the response of those who seek only retribution (the preadolescent response).
It is difficult to step back and see the larger frame of what is occurring in our nation just now. However, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson 161 years ago offers some perspective. Realities between then and now are nearer than is often seen or understood. Johnson said that the nation would always “by God,” be a nation of white men. Reconstruction had only begun and the fear of the loss of the dominance by Whites in the political process, along with the deeply embedded racism – both open and submerged — along with the appeal to authoritarianism and illiberal ideologies are as much in play now as then. They are made of the same core ingredients of human fear and desire to control.
Studies of racism over the past fifty years show a high correlation with authoritarianism, dogmatism and status concern. Not much change comes by argument or debate; even so, there is the need to say, “NO, go no further with the harm you are doing.” More likely, change comes to persons who carry different narratives when they meet one another, experiencing the world of an enemy in real time, real life. The stranger, sometimes ever so slowly, learns that he or she can also be neighbor.
Prayers this Advent are that the slow restorative work of seeking to transform a stranger into neighbor can move forward… with the aid of a flawed human process known as impeachment.