There are those moments in American governing where if you just stop and listen, closeout everything else that is happening around you, and simply listen to the words being spoken you will hear the echoes of the Founding Fathers. I know that all sounds rather dramatic and something akin to what Billy Wilder would frame on a movie set.
But late Thursday night that mood, tone, feel and imagery was what played out over our television sets at Congressman Adam Schiff spoke not just from notes at the lectern in front of the United States Senate as the Impeachment Trial for Donald Trump continued, but more importantly spoke from that place in the American conscience that we all have to hope is still alive.
For roughly ten minutes I was struck how the power of words, the essence of the Founders, the basic integrity of the nation, and the decency of our national character were combined as Schiff gave a powerful summation for the day’s testimony.
Closing our eyes and just listening to the words and phrases such as “Right matters. And truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.” allows for the images of Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson with their grand hopes and designs for the nation to again stand before us. They were not sure what they had drafted in the Constitution, and worked for all their lives to lift up, would result in a new republic or a crumpled experiment that failed. But they pressed forward all the same based on faith and hope.
The Founders knew well the failed state of man, and placed within our living Constitution the checks and balances, brakes and devices, to make sure that corrupt men and passions running wild would not wreak havoc on the nation. The final ten minutes of Schiff’s presentation was nothing short of extraordinary as he allowed the dreams and yes, fears, of the Founders to have a voice for a nation that needs to hear them again. He made the most compelling case yet as to why leaving Trump in office endangers us all. We all know we can’t count on Trump. To do what’s right not for him but for us all.
It was a gut punch that made me sit straighter and I noticed my breathing was more intense as what was being said, with the Founders and their history in obvious context, was so perfectly stated for a nation that needed to hear it.
It was an emotional ending that I have no doubt will reverberate around the nation over the days to come. This night will be recalled by historians as one of those moments when an orator made Washington buzz, and the nation stopped to listen and reflect.
Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and the cast of others are surely wondering if we have lost our way, our conscience. I pray we have not.