A few leadership reflections from the Trump impeachment process


Okay, I am very troubled by the way the impeachment process ended.

I can guess the two things you may be thinking:
1) Is Harry going to argue that the U.S. Senate should have voted to remove Trump from office? OR
2) Is Harry going to argue that the U.S. Senate made the right decision in not voting to remove Trump from office?

Here’s the possible surprise: I am not going to argue either side. After five months of discussions, hearings, testimony, conflicting evidence, speeches, arguments, etc, etc, etc, it is clear that intelligent people can look at everything that occurred and have very different opinions as to whether or not President Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own re-election. In addition, some have argued that even if he did, it was not serious enough to warrant removing him from office.

Okay, so what’s troubling me? I happen to believe that a person who is elected to be a U.S. Senator has a responsibility to look at all of the evidence on all sides (my favorite quote of “seek to understand before I am understood”) and vote for what they truly believe is the right thing to do. I will stop here for a moment. Yes, maybe my problem is that I am too much of an idealist or simply not practical. And again, I am not arguing about the outcome of the trial. However, think about the process. Maybe it is my mathematical mind getting in the way, but if the evidence was evaluated and understood from multiple sides, isn’t it amazing that EVERY SINGLE Democratic Senator voted “guilty” and EVERY SINGLE Republican Senator except Mitt Romney (whom I will come back to later) voted “not guilty”?? If these 100 Senators voted their conscience, and the results came out this way it would be like tossing a coin in the air 100 times and every time coming up heads!

Okay, so I know what you are now thinking, “Harry, don’t be so naive, it’s all politics.” Really, should it be all about the politics? Is this what our Founding Fathers would have expected us to do? Is this what true leaders would do?

I apologize if this sounds too academic, but as someone teaching values-based leadership, something seems very wrong. Again, I am not arguing about the conclusion. I would feel very differently if 10 or so Democrats voted “not guilty” and 10 or so Republicans voted “guilty.” The fact that the voting was strictly on party lines (other than Romney) is what I find very disappointing.

When I discussed this with a few folks yesterday I was told, “Harry, they had no choice if they wanted to get re-elected.” Really? So is the role of an elected official to focus on getting re-elected? Or are they supposed to be doing what is right?

Okay, one more important thought: Mitt Romney, a Republican, did vote Trump “guilty” for abuse of power. Interesting that only one person out of 100 did not vote on party lines.

Senator Romney explained his decision in a press conference as follows:
“Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me, for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.”

Whether you agree or disagree with his decision, I found the reaction to his decision very troubling:

  • Donald Trump Jr called for Romney to be “expelled” from the Republican Party.
  • President Trump called Romney a “Democrat secret asset”, and added, “I don’t like people who use their faith to justify what they know is wrong.” Hmmm, no comment.

Let’s hope that more of our elected officials will focus on “what is the right thing to do, versus what is politically attractive”… and just maybe this is what WE should expect of the people we elect to serve in our government and hold them accountable to it.

I always appreciate your perspectives.

7 comments

  • Well said Harry – my concern is the obstruction. How can there be a trial without information? Following an agreed upon legal process is essential for trust in a government.

    Never before had the Executive office stonewalled so completely. It is alarming in terms of the larger arc of history, and just bad collective judgment in my opinion. Even if the house’s output was purely political, the process is the process. And if you are innocent, then you should happily produce any information requested. Also, the fact that the senate leadership openly worked with the executive branch is certainly not in the spirit of what the framers intended. Lastly, I would have liked the judicial branch to have been more active. It didn’t seem like a trial at all. In general, whether whig, democratic or republican, it is very dangerous if the executive branch gets too powerful. The architects of the constitution knew that.

    The three branches ought to respect each other and the process outlined in the constitution. The constitution becomes just a frail meaningless document if not respected. Like the yellow sheets of corporate values in so many organizations – thumb-tacked up in the cafeteria and guard house – hardly read and not respected or followed. I’m glad a professor of leading with values took a stand.

    Thank you for taking the time, getting others’ perspectives, and for putting your own thoughts into writing this.

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  • I ironically am reading this on a flight home to Chicago from Washington, DC, after being there on business for a few days. My business meetings were just a few blocks from the White House. When I’ve visited our nation’s capital in the past, I’ve been awe-struck when I pass the monuments, the White House, and everything else that DC has to offer. It reminds me of the values our nation were founded on. It reminds me of the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices that were put in by so many to make our nation what it is today. It reminds me of the important role we’ve played in larger global affairs. My heart is normally bleeding with patriotism & pride. But this visit was different, very different. I saw the monuments and they made me sad. I looked at the White House, and I had a physical reaction. I immediately closed my eyes and looked down in disgust. What you just described with this impeachment process is a microcosmic example of how DC has learned to operate. It is terribly troubling. And to pile on to that, the media has become a complete joke.

    (Republicans + Democrats) x Media = Sickening and Disturbing

    I’ve been coached by a few great leaders to come to the table with solutions, not problems. And I struggle to do that here.

    Thinking through the lens of potential solutions, my sense tells me the overall structure our country is built on is solid – the balance of the Executive Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Legislative Branch. That seems to make sense & that power balance has proven to keep each other in check. And the concept of democracy & voting makes sense and has its own clear value place. It is the concept of the political parties that I believe is breaking everything down- they NEED to be dissolved – period. Without political parties, we’d have a far better chance of politicians thinking for themselves on what is truly right or wrong. Additionally for similar reasons, no financial contributions to politicians in any form or fashion – period. Just two small items to change ;-). If we can figure out how to tackle the impossible and make this happen, I do believe the structure will have made the adjustments necessary for long-term success.

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  • Thank you Harry. Very timely. In a recent discussion among our managers — not the BOD — about where Relevant Radio should build our headquarters, some people from Chicago were of the opinion we should build it in Green Bay and some people in Green Bay have the opinion that we should build it Chicago. At the end of the day that topic is still under study because we do not have a clear consensus. But I am grateful that our team members feel free to share their ideas.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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  • Values, Values. As a society for some reason we can accept a party line vote instead of a conscience value driven decision and that is were the real problem resides.

    We have become complacent and comfortable erasing the boundaries of right and wrong. I totally agree with your reflection and although it may flow as idealistic or naive, is absolutely correct your concern.

    As a society we deserve a political class with higher standards. Doesn’t concern you that these same people approve laws that can have a significant impact on our lives?

    I’m not against the prevailing status quo. I’m concern with the lack of political evolution towards a value driven decision making environment in our political arena.

    We deserve better !!! I’m with you, my comments are not based on the outcome but rather on the process. Wish you were more active in this medium. Great way to keep in touch.

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  • Thank you Harry! As always, I enjoyed reading your reflection. 3 thoughts from me … 1) https://gehlporter.com/. 2) Some things I read recently exposed double standards among members of our Legislative Branch. Sad to learn of them, glad they were exposed, disappointed that likely, no repercussions. 3) When someone misrepresents an event, everyone hearing that misrepresentation needs to object to the misrepresentation. Not an exact science, plenty of subjectivity, vulnerable to bias, but we need honest attempts of historical integrity.

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  • Harry,
    Thank you. As always, your insights are straight-forward, clear and reflect the values and integrity which we all admire. I agree completely that it is genuinely impressive to watch how Romney has consistently stood by his convictions and did not bow to the pressures of the party or the president. His actions are similar to John Kasich who also stood by his principles and stayed true to himself. Hey, how about a Kasich-Romney ticket!? (…they’ll have to decide who’s name comes first…!)

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