The Profiles in Courage Award, inspired by President John Kennedy’s eponymous book and administered by Caroline Kennedy, is an award meant for someone who has shown courage in doing what they consider to be right and just despite consequences, including losing an election. In his award-winning book, Kennedy mentioned Edmond Ross as an example of a senator who voted to save President Andrew Johnson from conviction despite a strong universal animosity toward Johnson. Sen. Ross decided that despite Andrew Johnson’s ugly personality, it wasn’t enough to leave this sad mark on American history.
Former President Donald Trump deserved to be impeached and convicted — both times.
If Trump’s first impeachment trial was judged strictly along party lines, the second trial regarding incitement of insurrection was more bipartisan. Seven Republicans watched the horrific footage of Trump inspired mobs attacking their own U.S. Capitol and agreed that he was guilty of abrogating his sacred oath. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict. Other Republicans who voted for conviction, including Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, have been censured by state party officials.
The only Republican senator facing immediate consequences is Lisa Murkowski who has an upcoming election. She told reporters she “can’t fear fallout for her impeachment vote.” Sen. Murkowski, always something of a maverick, stated that if the people of Alaska decide “because I did not support my party that I can no longer serve them in the United States Senate, then so be it.”
To risk one’s future career takes courage. Why the Republican Party would condone and even support a president after he incited one of the most treasonous incidents in American history is truly puzzling. Even Sen. Mitch McConnell, trying to have it both ways, voted to acquit but delivered a savage attack on the former president’s appalling “dereliction of duty.” Five people died in the assault, and footage shows just how close the mob came to physically attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence. This was not civil disobedience for a just cause.
If Mitch McConnell’s senate seat is safe, Lisa Murkowski’s is at risk, though her moral courage is beyond reproach. Regarding her state Republican Party members censuring her, Murkowski said, “They can make that statement. But I will make the statement, again, that my obligation is to support the Constitution that I have pledged to uphold, and I will do that, even if it means that I have to oppose the direction of my state party.”
The Alaska Republican Party State Central Committee earlier this month passed a resolution opposing the Senate impeachment trial as “moot” and opposing a conviction. Glenn Clary, the party chairman, did not comment on whether or not the party is considering a censure of Murkowski who believes the Republican Party “was a pretty good party before Donald Trump, and I believe we can be a good party after Donald Trump.” She continued: “Right now, I think we’re still trying to figure out who we are. Because if we are the party of just one man, and not the party of good, solid principles, then that’s a challenge — certainly a challenge for me.” Senator Murkowski insists “she continues to be a Republican but not a ‘Trump Republican.’”
The Republican Party is in danger of being controlled and possibly fractured by a cult-personality leader and not inspired by a grand idea or principle. Unlike Andrew Johnson, Donald Trump enjoys devoted followers, even after the Jan. 6 assault, and judging from the reaction of many Republican senators terrified of these Trump supporters, none of them will be nominated for the Profiles in Courage award.
Perhaps Caroline Kennedy might consider Sen. Lisa Murkowski as a candidate for this prestigious honor.
Michael Corrigan graduated from San Francisco State with an Master of Arts degree in English and creative writing. He was active in theater and attended the American Film Institute. He retired from Idaho State University as an instructor of English and speech communications. He has written several books, including “Confessions of a Shanty Irishman,” “Mulligan” and “These Precious Hours.” NPR broadcast his play for two readers: “Letters from Rebecca.”