I am fond of recalling the words of a brand new president who took office in the wake of a dark time in American history.
Gerald Rudolph Ford placed his hand on a Bible, recited the presidential oath of office, then stood before the world to declare that “our Constitution works.” He succeeded Richard Nixon, who quit earlier that day to avoid being impeached. The Watergate scandal brought down the Nixon presidency.
Yes, the Constitution worked just as it should during that time.
It is working now as another president faces the unforgiving assurance that every morning he awakes for the rest of his life, he will be an “impeached president.”
Yes, the Constitution works, just as President Ford declared on Aug. 9, 1974.
No matter the outcome of the Senate trial that is pending, the Constitution will have done its job. If the president is cleared, it will have worked. If he is convicted and removed from office, it will have performed as the framers constructed it.
Almost no one believes the current president will be kicked out of office. A failure to convict him doesn’t mean failure for the Constitution. It means only, to my mind, that an insufficient number of senators were willing to put duty to the nation ahead of fealty to a president. That doesn’t besmirch the Constitution, under which the House impeached Donald Trump and the Senate conducted its trial.
It is good at times like this to take a step back and look at the big picture. The framers crafted a brilliant governing document. It’s a bit clunky at times, but that’s the nature of a representative democracy, which is as Winston Churchill described it: a lousy form of government, but better than anything else ever produced by human beings.
My faith in the system remains as strong as ever, regardless of the outcome that more than likely awaits the nation at the end of this process.
I shall cherish the words that President Ford spoke moments after assuming the nation’s highest office: Our Constitution works.