A new civic battery will help us restart

It’s 18 below outside. The car wouldn’t start and the furnace faltered a few days back. A new battery and furnace filter later, we are confined with an impeachment trial on the television. Homebound by a wind chill of 45 below, not to mention a pandemic, you dwell on the phone call: “Who the @#&! do you think you’re talking to?” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said to President Donald Trump as the terrorists banged on his Capitol door. This is what Washington discourse has come to. 

I bumped into a friend down by the lake. Our discourse revealed that the ice was 17-20 inches thick, that the walleye action was fair, and that a guy should set up probably on the east side since that seems to be where the action is. When it’s that cold, you get to what is urgent and move on. 

Impeachment was a foregone conclusion, as it was the first time around. We knew that our senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, were in the tank for Trump. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did his dance around the moral issue of the commander in chief standing by while Congress was under assault from his mob. McConnell made a stern statement rebuking Trump after acquitting him. 

It was a necessary exercise, if not an exorcism. 

Most Americans know the story: Trump is a loser and a con man. There were 57 votes in the Senate against him. Let the DAs in Atlanta and New York sort out Trump’s criminality with their grand juries. Let the record show that Grassley and Ernst confirmed themselves to be mopes. 

Maybe we can start to move on now. 

Our groundhog, a York shire named Arnold and not Phil, says that spring will come sooner or later, and we are in this damned polar vortex because of a melting Arctic ice cap. So we need to deal with it. People like me, children at the twilight of the oil era, are starting to figure that out. Webster County soon will have a solar array on 960 acres powering 30,000 homes. It’s happening. 

I do not sense that people want to talk so much about impeachment, or even Trump (although here I am talking about him, such is his malign magic). They want to know when a vaccine will show up. Doses are starting, just starting, to arrive in increasing supply. They want to know how the economy will rebound. And they wonder if, after it snows even while sub-zero, we will be beset by drought this spring. They would like to know that rural communities can prosper and that their kids have a future. 

Who really wanted to watch that impeachment? You could barely stand again to see that Capitol Police officer squeezed by the door in the mob and screaming for mercy. It’s hard to turn away when you are trapped. The senators themselves turned away after having been trapped. Grassley fiddled with his laptop while the horrific video rolled. In the end he and Ernst voted to just walk off with presumed impunity themselves. 

We moved on from the first impeachment with an acquittal and a public verdict in an election. We will move on from this impeachment with a President Biden who has a nose for the center that will serve us well or even save us. 

The forecast says we should get up to around 30 degrees by the weekend. We’re just a month shy of the spring equinox March 21 when we have more daylight than darkness. April could bring us a shower of doses. Relief checks will be in the mail. Congress might soon pass an infrastructure package with bipartisan support. I should be free of my home gulag on Irving Street by the time the crappies bite and the lilacs bloom. 

Grassley and Ernst tell us that Iowa has not yet quite moved on from Trump. 

My friend down at the lake is a Trump supporter, honest as the day is long and generous to a fault. We will move on. Of course, we have to. We’re lifelong friends. There is work to do. Snow to move. A lake to protect. Roads to fix. Wildlife habitat to enhance. A community to build and fish to catch. 

It will be easier to have those conversations again with Trump out of the way, once this polar vortex pulls out, and this virus is beaten back. Spring is something we can look forward to. The Iowa Legislature will adjourn perhaps without causing permanent damage. The Twins should win the Central Division. We start among each of us cooling down the temperatures by letting this history sort itself out as it will, while we consort in goodwill. We really must get together when this deep freeze gives way. It will. 

Art Cullen is the publisher and editor of The Storm Lake Times.

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