I end the day of Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress with tears in my eyes courtesy of Elijah Cummings.
“I know you’re worried about your family, but this is a part of your destiny,” the House Oversight Chairman said in his closing statement, which began slowly and built to a powerful end. “And hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to … a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America, and a better world. And I mean that from the depths of my heart. When we are dancing with the angels, the question will be asked — in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”
I’ll be damned if I’m going to. No way.
It has cost me relationships. It has had me questioning whether to squelch my own near-constant reservations about what is happening in the country I love. It has revealed some not very deep thinkers in my life. It has shown me how baffled I am by people who don’t have the guts to speak up.
From the moment Donald Trump won the 2016 election, many of us have felt emotionally tortured by the fact that the very worst impulses of our country had emerged and spoken. We felt at our core that the country had elected a fraud who had dishonest intent. What has unfolded since then has only served to reinforce this feeling again and again.
Now, today, in this moment, I am grateful for my Spidey sense that something has been very wrong for over two years. I am validated by the testimony of a man who is going to jail for lying to Congress and who enabled the unqualified and undignified Donald Trump to be in this position of ultimate power. As has been expressed by so many of my Evangelical fellow citizens, I too believe Trump’s election is the work of God; where we part is that I see it as a call to reflect on what it looks like when we are our worst selves and to rise up and find the best within us.
Like Chairman Cummings, I believe Cohen is on the road to redemption and ultimately realized the depths of the damage he has inflicted on the United States by virtue of his deeds. My opinion is based on the tears in his eyes when Cummings said the aforementioned words about his destiny and also on his own closing statement, most of which addressed Trump directly. This is just a part of that:
We honor our veterans — even in the rain. We tell the truth even when it doesn’t aggrandize you. You respect the law and our incredible law enforcement agents. You don’t villainize them. You don’t disparage generals, Gold Star families, prisoners of war and other heroes who had the courage to fight for this country.
This, of course, gets to the very essence of where we’ve gone off the rails. I didn’t particularly like George W. Bush, but at no point did I feel he was disrespecting the nation, flouting the rule of law, denigrating law enforcement or the military, or seeking to make money on the presidency.
This is not about losing an election, as we hear ad nauseum from Trump supporters. It is about drowning in so many lies that we’ve either got to disconnect to survive or let out primal screams that manifest in a myriad of ways. I have no issue with copping to Trump Derangement Syndrome; to me, the opposite of that is apathy and I want no part of that.
After the hearing dispersed, Cummings spoke to the press outside the room.
“This is a fight for the soul of our democracy,” he said. Then a little later, “Two hundred years from now, people will be reading about this moment.”
How do you want to be remembered?
I can only answer for myself. I want to be remembered as a person who opened my mouth, who fought for what I believe is right, who left behind these words, who had tears in my eyes when Elijah Cummings talked about dancing with angels.