This week the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate is going to refuse to remove from office the President of the United States, bringing an end to the impeachment trial.
Perhaps because the charges against the President involve matters of foreign affairs and national politics they have not jolted us like similar allegations against local officials would.
After all, few of us profess to hold a great deal of expertise in matters of international diplomacy. So let us bring it closer to home with a thought experiment featuring a local official to test how we would react in situation squarely within our everyday experience.
Let us think about corruption and an abuse of power in a hypothetical situation involving a local sheriff.
A lot of people in our area are avid supporters of the right to bear arms. A considerable number seek to assert that right by acquiring a so-called concealed carry permit.
As many of you know the county sheriff is the public official you go to to apply for such a permit. There are established legal criteria you must meet to qualify for for the permit.
The sheriff takes your application and then orders a background check to determine if you meet the qualifying criteria.
If you do, the sheriff must issue the conceal carry permit.
It is his official function and duty to do so.
He can’t — in his discretion — deny it to you.
He can’t, for example, withhold it until you do him a personal favor.
But in our thought experiment let’s assume the sheriff does just that. He tells you that you won’t get the permit until you do him a favor.
This hypothetical sheriff is running for re-election. It is a close race. His opponent is quite popular with the electorate. The sheriff wants a favor from you to help tilt the balance in his favor. He wants you to publicly smear his opponent by starting a rumor on the internet that his opponent beats his wife and children.
If you do that you will get your permit. If not, you won’t.
Is the sheriff corrupt? Has he abused his power?
Should he be removed from office?
If your answer is yes to all three of those questions,then, I have a modest suggestion.
Call Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and tell him you want him to vote for conviction and removal from office.