The dust has hardly settled. Maybe it will never settle, but I for one want to publicly thank U.S. Rep. Lacey Clay for his vote to authorize the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald J. Trump. It was not a waste of time.

Clay’s vote may be the most important vote of his lifetime. I watched the trial hoping to hear stirring oratory that might rival what was captured in Steven Spielberg’s movie “Lincoln.” The movie showed Congress debating a measure to abolish slavery permanently through the 13th Amendment.

There was notable oratory in this 2020 trial, although most St. Louis residents probably did not hear it, since local TV stations relegated it to a cable television sideshow. This was a remarkable departure from the impeachment hearings of Richard M. Nixon in 1973.

In the summer of 1973, I watched it all while painting my college’s dorms, a job I secured along with my roommate from Chicago. We had much to discuss, to criticize and admire, while wielding our paint brushes and rollers.

There wasn’t any – “What did the President know and when did he know it” – during this 2020 impeachment round. It was pretty clear what the President did, despite a partisan vote to prevent witnesses from testifying.

Nevertheless, there was stirring testimony and observation:

“We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again,” Sen. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told the Senate. “He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him.”

Schiff, the lead House manager in the trial, continued:

“Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in [this] very election? Can we be confident that Americans and not foreign powers will get to decide, and that the President will shun any further foreign interference in our Democratic affairs? The short, plain, sad, incontestable answer is no, you can’t.”

Attorney Alan Dershowitz with the Trump defense team, offered this:

“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And if a President does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Rep. Clay’s Disappointment

Our Rep. Clay did not mince words in his distress over Senate Republicans voting for acquittal with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

“This was not an exoneration, it was a spineless perpetuation of a dangerous cover-up,” said Clay. “Republicans in the U.S. Senate turned a blind eye to the facts, refused to allow witnesses and documents that would have uncovered the whole truth, and surrendered congressional oversight to an amoral president who tramples on the Constitution, puts national security at risk for his own benefit, and repeatedly places himself above the Rule of Law.”

I wrote our Sen. Josh Hawley about my own concerns, and he offered this:

“House Democrats gave us the first purely partisan impeachment in our history and the first attempt to remove an elected president without even alleging unlawful conduct. It’s clear that the political class in Washington cannot accept the verdict of the people in 2016, and so they sought to overturn an election and entrench themselves in power. That’s what this was really about and that is why I voted to acquit President Trump.

“It’s been clear for a long time that impeachment is not a priority of the people, but the pipe dream of politicians. When House Democrats forced impeachment on this country, it diverted our attention from critical issues such as the crisis of suicide, rising health care and housing costs, and the lack of internet access in rural areas.”

I am not sure most Americans even begin to realize the gravity of the history that they have just lived through. In any case, onto the important business of internet access in rural areas.