Betrayal Cuts Deep, Wide, and Long

Pelosi says Trump has exercised betrayal

It’s probably fair to say that most of us have experienced betrayal in some way and at some time in our lives. We’re no stranger to its stinging effects which endure far longer than we want. We blame. We defend. We take sides.

It was significant that on September 24th, House Speaker Pelosi told the nation that Trump’s actions were a:

…betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

Some are delighted she affirmed that the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. Others are incensed. The middle political ground is becoming ever more isolated. It’s a space that bears resemblance to a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), common to battle fronts. Each political side is digging in, reinforcing their perspectives. Impeachment promises to further politically divide the nation. Betrayal, be it cause or result, wounds us.

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Impeachment is a dangerous process

David Frum of The Atlantic, in his article, “A Realist’s Guide to Impeachment,” outlines what lies ahead for Trump’s impeachment. He cautions:

Trump supporters may be mobilized, Trump opponents demoralized, and Democratic presidential candidates distracted from issues that may be more potent at the voting booth.

Impeachment involves all of us

Mr. Frum tells us that, “An impeachment of President Donald Trump is both deserved and dangerous.” Accordingly, we must be mindful of more than just the process. The event is not simply relegated to Washington. Impeachment is not cleanly left to legal workings. It involves all of us.

Our political parties need to be healthy and functional to serve our nation well. Disagreement and conflict, being part of our national DNA, serve us if they foster constructive and positive futures. It seems fitting to remind ourselves to guard against reactive emotions that are disrespectful, destructive, and aimed at further harm. As the impeachment plays out and our futures are affected, we must recognize who we are. We must be mindful of our thinking and our words.

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Claims of betrayal do not give us license to further the political divides in our daily lives. As we sit around our kitchen tables, we as family may be in agreement over these political events – maybe. As we interact with neighbors and day-to-day associates, we may be at more risk of taking sides and blaming, even harming, each other. Distant relatives may feel estranged from us because, in their perplexed views, we’re no longer who we seemed to be in times past. Our sentiments become cemented to a political malaise that tears us apart interpersonally as well as politically.

The impeachment process promises to take some time with its effects touching all of us for years to come. What will our individual and collective sentiments be? How will these sentiments affect our nation? How long will we, as a nation, remain divided – untrusting, abused, and even vengeful?

Our sentiments affect our nation

Public sentiment is important, even vital, for this nation. As impeachment looms ahead, will we express patience and a bit of grace for counter perspectives? Will we gloat or be defensive? Will we raise our voices and become snide (from either side), forgetting we’re talking with those whom we would otherwise respect and maybe even love?

I’m pointing this out because I, too, am vulnerable to my own destructive sentimental pull. The caution I raise is because I know only too well how painful it can be to our vital (almost sacred) relationships if we allow the darkness of the impeachment pull us apart. Such darkness will adversely affect and color our collective future far longer than needed if we succumb this way.

Thirteen months from now we will cast our ballots for the presidency. Will our votes reflect the pains we bear from Trump’s betrayal or from his defense? Will we vote in accordance with our anger; or, will we be counseled by an eye to the future where hope can be better manifested? How will we use these few months until the nation calls for us to maturely decide?

Voting is a core democracy value

Voters are betrayed if they are prevented from casting their ballots (voter suppression). Voters are likewise betrayed if their votes, once cast, are not represented in the Electoral College (vote suppression). Both forms of betrayal should capture our attention, much as impeachment does. It puts our national democracy at risk.

Our voting process matters. When we abuse the voting process by obstructing the sacredness of the ballot, we rightfully cry foul and rush to protect it. Voting freedom is sacrosanct to our democracy. Likewise, when we disenfranchise voters after they have voted, democratic representation fails. Tens of millions of presidential ballots (63+ million in 2016) commonly never see representation because the winner-takes-all approach successfully hides them.

We are now called to endure this dark time of impeachment; the outcome of which will affect our voting. Will our votes help calm the nation, keeping it intact; or, will betrayal cause us to be destructively reactive?

We must guard against the divisiveness of impeachment. It’s a challenging responsibility. Can we restrain our reactions and emotions lest they erode the harmonies that make our families, our friends, and our nation special?

Our nation depends on our response in the next few months. Let’s not betray her.

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By Jerry Spriggs & the Equal Voice Voting Team