Looming Second Impeachment Fractures Republicans
As Trump’s impeachment approaches on the heels of a deadly siege, we’re about to find out where Republicans stand on democracy
After President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris climate accords in his first week in office, Senator Ted Cruz disparaged the move, remarking that Biden cares more for the “views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh.” Ted Cruz, however, made it perfectly clear how much he values the people of Pittsburgh when he voted to throw out their votes along with those of the entire state of Pennsylvania’s, propping up Donald Trump’s malignant fiction of a fraudulent election.
As Sen. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley wait to show off their election misconduct to the 2024 GOP primary voters, a whisper campaign to convict Trump in his upcoming impeachment has begun among Republicans in the Senate. Brandishing a nine point bulletin that includes the brave notion that it isn’t conservative to steal elections, donors and top former Trump administration officials are trying to ensure the party does away with the disgraced president at his second impeachment.
Regardless, whether it’s conscience, or the river of corporate money flowing out of the GOP’s coffers, McConnell is finally set to kill his Frankenstein.
Still, it doesn’t bode well when America’s conservative political party can only muster whispers from the sidelines in response to a former president attempting to brazenly and violently overthrow our democracy.
Mitch McConnell, for his part, is ready to be rid of Trump. From the Senate floor he signaled his openness to voting yes on impeachment, and he is casting the choice as one of conscience, rightly blaming Trump for inciting the vicious mob that burst through his chamber’s doors. Regardless, whether it’s conscience, or the river of corporate money flowing out of the GOP’s coffers, McConnell is finally set to kill his Frankenstein.
But separating the GOP from Trumpism won’t be quick surgery, as illustrated by the fierce backlash against the ten Republicans in the House who voted to impeach. They’re facing primaries from the right and loathing from their local Republican officials, many of whom backed Trump’s campaign to overturn the election and continue to adore the fallen president.
Arizona state Republicans censured Governor Doug Ducey, Cindy McCain, and former Senator Jeff Flake for refusing to support Trump’s efforts to overturn the unfavorable results of the election in that state. All three are reportedly unconcerned by the largely symbolic gestures, but they show a party that refuses to part ways with a poisonous former president. Instead, the Arizona GOP is walking away from its last viable remaining Republicans after Trump’s chaotic presidency led to Arizona turning blue for the first time in 25 years.
The upcoming impeachment trial, now scheduled to begin February 8th, is a chance for the Republican Party to reject Trump’s election meddling and the hard-right extremists that breached the Capitol in what is sure to be the first battle in the war between establishment Republicans and diehard Trump loyalists over the future of the party.
Impeachment is a singular opportunity to definitively break with a would be tyrant who lost Republicans the House, Senate, and the presidency plus two impeachments in only four years, an extraordinary feat of political destruction even for Donald Trump. The New York Times reported yesterday that Trump tried to oust his acting Attorney General to install a lackey who was ready to use the levers of the Department of Justice to throw out the election in Georgia.
One way or another, the GOP is going to have to confront what it became under Trump, a party that justified and rationalized Trump’s craven criminality and stupefying incompetence for four years for the sake of tax cuts and the installation of conservative judges.
Indeed, more horrifying details of Trump’s attempted coup, and his criminality more generally will continue to emerge, scathing Republicans as Trump’s crude not-so-behind-the-scenes maneuverings trickle out like Chinese water torture upon the GOP.
Ultimately, the GOP will continue to be a cult of personality to Donald Trump, rather than a coherent conservative political party if it cannot convict him. It will exorcise the corruption, dishonesty, and lurching toward extremism or it will be consumed by it. One way or another, the GOP is going to have to confront what it became under Trump, a party that justified and rationalized Trump’s craven criminality and stupefying incompetence for four years for the sake of tax cuts and the installation of conservative judges.
After the siege on the Capitol, with Fortune 500 companies and donors running away from the GOP in droves, Mitch McConnell is feeling the heat. The fate of his party and his leadership depend on a successful war against the Trump-loyalist insurgents in his party, and he knows that. The moment of reckoning could come through a cathartic conviction at Trump’s second impeachment. Perhaps more likely, the broken remnants of the GOP will rally around McConnell gleefully obstructing Democrats, forgoing a moment of truth to instead acquit the president once again, all while suffering collective amnesia about the Trump era.
One thing is reasonably clear, though. Trump doesn’t much care about what happens to the GOP, as he’s talking about forming his very own ‘Patriot Party’. If that ever gets off the ground, much like his January 6th ‘Save America’ rally was, to quote Donald Trump, it “Will be wild!”