The question of the moment is greater than even the immediate fate of President Donald J. Trump. If what he has done to the nation doesn’t merit impeachment and removal from office, what would?
He is proof that no magic force protects the nation from the election of a demagogic president with the soul of a tyrant and an incandescent contempt for the Constitution.
Someday, there may be another.
In that event, what restraint will history provide? What example will this Congress set to the Congress of that day?
Will it teach that anything goes, provided this demagogue has enough congressional collaborators to excuse it?
The Senate set that example when it acquitted Trump last year.
Or will the lesson be that no one, least of all a president, can foment rebellion against our flag, our Constitution and our country without being called to account and to justice?
The House of Representatives answered those questions Wednesday in the only proper way with its vote to impeach Trump for the second time, 232-197. This time, Democrats were joined by 10 Republicans, the most representatives to ever cross party lines and vote to impeach a president of their own party. Now, the Senate has the opportunity — and the duty — to remove him from office, as some senators perhaps regret not doing a year ago.
He should be convicted of inciting this insurrection, even after leaving office next week, not only for the sake of the historical example but so that the Senate can permanently disqualify him from attempting to return.
That would be a noble service to the Republican Party as well as to the nation. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, seems at last to understand that.