This month, 2,070 years ago, a provoked Julius Caesar marched his army across the border (the Rubicon River) and invaded Rome itself. A vindictive Roman Senate had been determined to prosecute and ruin Caesar upon his imminent departure from office for crimes he allegedly committed in Gaul. (Caesar was probably guilty).
To what end? Thousands died in the civil wars that followed, Caesar was assassinated, the power of the Senate was destroyed, and the Roman Republic crumbled into an imperial autocracy.
Three hundred fifty-nine years ago this month, the body of the usurper and regicide Oliver Cromwell was exhumed from its place of honor in Westminster Abbey. (Clearly Cromwell was guilty). The two-year dead ex-Lord Protector was posthumously tried and condemned, his corpse beheaded and his rotting body parts publicly displayed.
To what end? Within a generation the vengeful Stewart royalists themselves were swept into the dustbin of history, and a new (non-Stewart) royal dynasty was invited to take their place.
Democrats have announced plans to impeach and convict President Trump even after his term of office ends next week. Trump allegedly incited civil unrest which led to the U.S. Capitol’s desecration and the deaths of at least four people. Although Trump’s personal culpability is unestablished (guilt or innocence would be determined in a Senate trial), no person seriously could deny that, if true, the charges certainly would constitute an impeachable offense. So, should the soon-to-be ex-President be impeached, and if so, to what end?
In a remarkable display of political courage, President Ford in 1974 ended “our long national nightmare” by pardoning another former President who certainly would have been impeached and removed from office had he not resigned. President Ford paid a high political price for his courage, being defeated in the next Presidential election largely because of the pardon. Yet, his noble aim had been to end the “nightmare” and allow America to heal. That was, for Ford, priority one.
Joe Biden also says he wants to bring Americans together and begin the healing process. If he does, I for one will hail him as a great President. In its hour of great need, America does not need a Senate as vengeful as the Roman one. If Americans come together as one, what is required is a “Ford moment” from the incoming President and Congress. Hopefully our statesmen possess the political courage and the patriotic wisdom to make it happen.
Submitted by Greg Snowden. He served 20 years representing Lauderdale and Clarke counties in the Legislature, the final eight of which he held the gavel as Speaker Pro Tempore. Snowden, a Republican, practices law with the Meridian firm of Barry, Thaggard & May.