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One Year Later

Banned from social media, impeached for a second time, former President Donald Trump might have disappeared in the sunset. And there are days when it almost seems as if he has, at least for those of us who aren’t looking and listening.

But make no mistake. He is still there. He may be the Democrats’ best hope going into the midterms. And that is really pitiful on all sides.

One year after the worst insurrection in our collective memory, an insurrection encouraged if not incited by the man entrusted with upholding the Constitution, the man responsible is as popular as the current president, and his critics — all 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him — are all in political trouble.

How can that be? How can it not be?
In fundamental ways, we are in precisely the same position we were a year ago. Or worse.

A year ago, we were in COVID-19’s grip, and admit it or not (and I hate to), we seem to be there again.

A year ago, we bemoaned the lack of leadership
from Washington while holding out hope that vaccinations would end COVID-19 once and for all.

The moans are still there; the hope isn’t.

To be honest, I have no idea what President Joe Biden should have done — what steps he could have taken but didn’t, what he should have said, how he could have led.

Maybe it’s just the
sense that, unlike his predecessor who spent
his days in our face, we rarely catch a glimpse of Biden, or hear a memorable clip, or find ourselves talking about a tweet.

Talk about Biden? What would you say? Dear Joe: Five dollars is too much for gasoline, and how much should a chicken get for laying an egg? Biden doesn’t command our attention, and so he doesn’t get it. At first, it was almost a relief. But as the country reels from crisis to crisis — and I mean from COVID-19 to inflation, from shortages to higher prices, from higher interest rates to slower supply chains — it would be nice if someone were to give us some sense of direction, remind us where we are going.

The memories of where we were just a year ago seem painfully close. Democracy did survive. Prosecutors have brought charges. The rule of law has not been lost, and it might have in even more danger. So we made it, which may be more than can be said for those Republicans courageous enough to stand up to their president.

All 10 of them.

Here is my question: How many would there be today?

How many regret their gutlessness, and how many just think of it as “politics”?

The tapes of what happened on Jan. 6 are as stark a reminder of the dangers of demagoguery as any we have seen. But will we remember them come November? Do we really remember them now?

“Turn on the TV,” my sister said to me, in the same tone my friend Annie used early on the morning of Sept. 11. I literally could not believe my eyes. I have loved politics since I was a little girl. I used to stay up late to watch conventions. My father’s best friend from law school was Ed Brooke, and my first campaign (where I got lost in the parade) was for him, a Black Republican running for attorney general in Massachusetts. He won. He later was the first Black senator since Reconstruction. How could I not love politics?

I watched in awe when President Richard Nixon tried (three times before he succeeded) to fire Archibald Cox as special prosecutor. Archie was my hero.

How is it that we have sunk so low? Where is courage now?

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