Reflections on Capitol Hill During Impeachment

After weeks of pointless delay, the House of Representatives finally voted on Wednesday to deliver the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, which they did a little after 5:30pm. With solemn ceremony, a procession marched from one wing of Congress to the other, where Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) laid out the ground rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump.

I watched live news coverage as the House procession wound its way through corridors and the Capitol rotunda, where I had been just yesterday. My mother-in-law was visiting, so my wife and I took her to Washington, DC, where she had scored us a tour of the White House and the Capitol Building. Tuesday’s weather was gloomy, but today was bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm.

There couldn’t have been a greater contrast between the mood inside the Capitol and the mood outside. Outside, tourists went about their usual business, laughing, having fun, jogging, walking dogs, and snapping pictures. We even saw a troupe of Buddhist monks taking selfies at the Lincoln Memorial. Our Uber drivers were chatty and talked about how long they had lived in DC.

Aside from one young woman wearing a pro-impeachment t-shirt, there was nothing to indicate a momentous event was underway in the Capitol. No one was arguing, looked sad or somber, protesting, or fighting in the streets. Just a bunch of people enjoying beautiful weather in our nation’s Capitol, like it was any other day.

Unbeknownst to us, Nancy Pelosi was busy inside the Capitol signing the authorization to transmit the Articles of Impeachment with multiple engraved pens—souvenirs for her supporters. I half wonder whether her delay to transmit them was just because she was waiting for those pens to be shipped to her office and not part of a grand strategy.

After enjoying the day strolling among towering granite buildings and monuments, thinking about that lonely procession walking through the echoing halls of Congress, I imaged Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and their entourage must have felt very small.

Something happens when you step into the towering marble and granite halls of these enormous buildings. You realize the buildings, the institutions are larger than a single person or political party. The people who pass through these halls are temporary residents. Statues of great figures from American history are everywhere, reminding us of past people who made momentous decisions in times of crisis.

When all is said and done, and the Senate acquits President Trump (which it most likely will), and all the furor dies down and these Congresspeople and Senators move on, what will everyone think of this historic drama playing out before our eyes, the course of which seemed so predictable from the beginning? If what I saw in Washington, DC over the past few days is any indication, it will be a giant, collective “shrug.”

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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