As former President Donald Trump heads in to his record-setting second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, it is essential to remember one thing: if you are a conservative, you cannot support Donald Trump in any way, shape, or form.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. You can support Trump if you are a Republican. In fact, if you are still a member of the Republican Party now, you probably do. Before the 2020 presidential election, 89% of Republicans approved of Trump and his actions. By late January 2021, after the lethal mob attack on the Capitol, that number had dropped…to 87%.
If you’re a Republican, not only do you support Trump the president and Trump the man, you probably support the Trumpian world view: 74% of Republicans still believe, after scores of court cases, that newly elected President Joe Biden did not win legitimately.
So, if you are a Republican, your attitude going into this unprecedented second impeachment might be summed up in the following way: not only is Trump not guilty, the attempt to impeach him is unfounded, unconstitutional, and politically motivated. And again, that is a completely self-consistent Republican perspective.
But if you are a conservative, you must welcome this impeachment, and you are likely to stand with arch-conservative Liz Cheney in finding Trump’s actions and characters reprehensible and un-American. Regarding the impeachment, Cheney said, “The oath that I took to the Constitution compelled me to vote for impeachment and it doesn’t bend to partisanship, it doesn’t bend to political pressure. It’s the most important oath that we take.”
Like Cheney or not, that’s a gold standard conservative statement: allegiance to the Constitution guides conservatives to do what they think is right. By contrast, current lunatic shooting star Marjorie Taylor Greene sums up the contemporary Republican Party’s relationship to Trump: “the party is his and doesn’t belong to anybody else.”
Conservative= principles. Modern Republican = Trump. The difference seems clear. Stark, even.
In case it isn’t clear, let me sum it up. There are many ways to define the conservative tradition, but let me sketch some of them. American conservatism venerates the Constitution. A broader tradition of conservatism, such as that described (and partially created) by Russell Kirk supported an “enduring moral order” and supports “custom, convention, and continuity.” Lee Edwards accents liberty, free will, and the absence of “arbitrary force.” As the name “conservative” suggests, this perspective isn’t afraid of being a little old-fashioned and holding to qualities like “honor” and “self-control.”
Trump and the modern Republican Party support none of these things. A deadly mob is the opposite of an enduring moral order. It is the literal embodiment of arbitrary force. And I’d have to say that any mob that smears crap on the walls of the Capitol building and pees in the halls might violate convention and good manners too.
Since Trump directed this mob against other branches of the American government, it is a direct assault on the Constitution and its principles. And when I try to put Trump in the same sentence with either honor or self-control, I throw up a little in my mouth.
So. I suspect most Senate Republicans will ignore principles, tradition, reality, and the Constitution and vote to acquit Trump. But conservatives…
Award-winning poet and story writer (https://beattytales.com/), PhD in English, assistant pit bull, keppa to rockstars. Specialist in doughnut math.