The Catharsis of Impeachment

Speaker Pelosi banging the gavel on Article 1 of the Impeachment

Was the TRUMP impeachment a flaccid exercise in Congressional futility, a spit in the ocean, a tree falling in the silence of the forest? We saw TRUMP in his showbiz post-real mindset claiming it doesn’t “feel like impeachment,” or claiming it “impeachment-lite” as he blithely referred to how it felt to be only the third impeached president in American history. It might appear on the surface that nothing seemed to substantially change after the Congressional spanking was completed with the bang of Nancy Pelosi’s gavel.

But something did change. And very dramatically so. For the first time that I can remember, the dialogue in Congress was honing in on the core of democratic principles, it was unveiling the deep TRUMPological rupture in American values, it exposed, dramatically I dare say, the precarious state of a country teetering on the precipice of democracy and authoritarianism. No matter which side you are on, in that final hour of debate on Wednesday evening, December 18th, it was in its messiness all on the line, with everything at stake for both sides.

This was not an academic exercise in civics, this was the real deal. It felt as though we were witnessing a reenactment of the Founders ripping one another to shreds while formulating the constitution. Or perhaps it was closer to the bitter fights in the 1860s between the Republicans and Separatists arguing over the deep fissure of emancipation and the abolishment of slavery. All of these arguments over the course of history drilled down to the very root of what America is all about, or at least what it is supposed to be about. We have just witnessed in front of our media saturated eyes, via the televisual transmission, an existential battle to protect the rights and freedoms that far too many have bled for.

Yes, Wednesday was a battle between life and death over whatever remains of so-called American idealism. It was nothing less than cathartic. The essence of catharsis is to release emotions at the apex of conflict, in which we INTERNALIZE and ENGAGE a moment of heightened understanding and illumination: not as an abstraction but something we can hold on to for dear life as essential to being human.

That is how I felt as the impeachment hearing hurdled into the final hour of debate, watching the back & forth like a swinging pendulum between Democrats climbing the ladder of reason and the Republicans tearing it all down. Back & forth, up & down, left & right as the debate tore us emotionally, angered us, inspired us, frustrated us, moved us, twisted our ability to think, exalted our aspirations, undermining its own logic, releasing a torrent of hatred & pride in equal doses: crashing & burning as it exploded down the superhighway of a wasted electorate. The debate concluded as wreckage & revelation all at the same time. Catharsis.

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.” – Mick Jagger