Looking back on America in the early 21st century, it's clear that one of the great near-misses for democracy was the short-lived presidency of Donald Trump. A con man through and through, Trump flaunted his power like cokehead tweeting porn at three in the morning, daring anyone to challenge him.
After only a few weeks in office, however, Trump's house of cards began to collapse, revealing a rotten core indecency and corruption. Political soldiers of every stripe were put to the test. Would they rally behind the clothes-less emperor ... or would they fight for America's democracy. Initially, those two camps split along party lines, but then something happened. A few honorable Republicans openly questioned the integrity of Trump's regime. And all hell broke loose. Trump was impeached, but not before he pardoned six of his top aides who would have been found guilty of treason.
Two men from North Carolina were bit players in the drama. Senator Richard Burr, chair of the special committee on intelligence, had the opportunity to investigate Trump's crimes and corruption, but failed to act. He might have earned a place in history, he might have been mentioned when people talk about profiles in courage. But alas, that didn't happen. Burr remained silent, complicit in every way with the spread of kakistocracy.
Thom Tillis, another Senator from North Carolina, had a less significant role in the great unraveling, but was equally culpable. He had a thousand chances to speak up, and he didn't.
People who lived at the time wondered why Burr and Tillis, representing the great and loyal state of North Carolina, failed to act in the interests of the country. When all was said and done, the explanation seemed simple. One part laziness, three parts cowardice, with dash of arrogance for good measure.
Burr and Tillis. Two hapless souls who failed us all.