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Trump impeachment acquittal is bad news for democracy, but history shows us how to cope

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tags: democracy, impeachment, Trump, acquittal



Frederick E. Hoxie is professor emeritus of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His latest book is "This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made."

For now, it seems that President Donald Trump has gotten away with it. He stonewalled congressional investigators, he successfully bullied every Republican senator except Mitt Romney and, right after the acquittal votes, he tweeted that he would discuss "our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!" at noon the following day. At present, political maneuvering, legal sophistry, lies and intimidation appear more powerful than the rule of law. This turn of events is bad news for our democracy. What's next?

History, of course, is a guide. There are other moments in our past that were similarly dark:

March 1857. With John Brown advocating the use of violence to end slavery, and settlers in “bloody” Kansas fighting a guerrilla war over human property in that territory, Chief Justice Roger Taney announced in the Dred Scott decision that African Americans could never be citizens. President James Buchanan and his fellow Democrats applauded the decision; members of the new Republican Party despaired.

January 1890. Using new technologies that enabled him to publish intimate pictures of New York tenement life, Jacob Riis published "How the Other Half Lives," a searing portrayal of urban poverty. While the book made Riis a celebrity and shocked some, most of the public shrugged, and it took many years for meaningful reform to occur.

Read entire article at USA Today

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