At the end of apartheid in South Africa, a court-like commission was established to bring peace and greater unity to that country. There was no reconciliation without exposing the truth as an inherent part of the process and truth could be told without retribution. We have nothing like that in the US, but the impeachment trial of Donald Trump may serve that purpose, whether or not he is acquitted of inciting the insurrection of January 6 and attempting to force state officials to lie about the presidential vote tally. Reconciliation would have been useless without both sides of the conflict in South Africa having a chance to air their version of the truth and the truth was aired in a courtroom setting where the public could hear the parties present their cases. Not all minds were changed or was reconciliation total, but it was still effective enough for the country to heal sufficiently and to move on. The lesson learned: without the truth being exposed in a trial-like setting where both sides were fairly heard, a critical degree of reconciliation would not have happened.
The impeachment trial in the Senate will give us that same opportunity. Now that the GOP has lost the White House, tied and in effect lost the Senate, and failed to turn the House red, they are the ones calling for unity and saying the impeachment trial will make the country more divisive. It probably is a good thing the trial is delayed until early February for several reasons: It will give a chance for the Biden administration to get its cabinet in place through the Senate process (avoiding the "acting" appointee practice Trump favored. The Consitution had given the Senate the power of advice and consent in cabinet appointments,). It will give time for more evidence on either side to come forward. The evidence will be presented under oath and in sworn testimony. It will give a sense of fairness, permitting Trump forces to plan and mount their defense. If there is no fairness in the proceedings, its value would be virtually useless in shaping public perception of what the truth is.
What is at stake in not life and death or financial deprivation or prison for Donald Trump? It is whether he can be a candidate for federal office again. That is as far as retribution goes. If he is acquitted on a partisan vote ( 2/3 of the Senate is required for conviction), he would not lose that ability to be a candidate in 2024. If he is convicted, a simple majority could vote on his eligibility to run again,, but he would have to be convicted in the trial first. He was already voted out of office through electoral college certification by each of the 50 states and the House, so removal is no longer an issue. The balance of power of the three branches would also not be affected. This is the GOP's only chance to diminish his power over them in the future by reducing his bully pulpit advantage he could get as a candidate. It is a chance for Biden to convince more that he was elected in a free and fair election and to accept the legitimacy of his power to govern. It is also a chance for all to hear from the Democrats: how close we came to having a dictatorship, the rule of a person, instead of the rule of law, and the end of democracy as we have known it. The impeachment trial will shape the future of both the GOP and the Democratic party, as well as to provide the truth element necessary for reconciliation.
Why is finding and exposing truth so important? It is because of our bifurcated media, and social media platforms, that too often see themselves as an advocate, a vehicle to shape opinions, not an impartial reporting of the facts, all of them, good or warts and all. Half of the country hears only half of the news, and the half they want to hear reinforces their beliefs without contradiction. They will now be confronted with evidence to which they had not been exposed before by their preferred media. Both sides of our political divide will be forced to hear the inconvenient truths. about this one issue, whether Trump tried to overturn an election by inciting an insurrection and threatening state officials to lie on his behalf.
Of course, the coverage of the impeachment trial by Fox and Murdoch media depends upon their followers' version of the truth and hopefully it will be
fair and balanced...(their old slogan). If you want to follow the impeachment trial unvarnished by any media pundits, follow it on C-Span.