After becoming the only president in American history to be impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives, Donald Trump is facing yet another trial in the Senate. This time, however, his congressional allies are not in control of the upper chamber. Seeing that the Republican Party lost control of the triumvirate of American politics, the presidency, Senate and House, in just one presidential term, an overhaul of the party seems to be in order – in other words, a reassessment of their platform, members and overall electability, not unlike the post-2012 election autopsy they conducted after Barack Obama won his second term. The first step of this transformation should be to denounce the politics of Donald Trump by voting for his conviction in this impeachment trial.
The Republican Party stands at a crossroads, especially in the wake of the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6: members of the party, as well as their voters, are pulling in two directions. The traditional wing, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has denounced aspects of Trumpism, including Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack and the increasingly violent rhetoric of Trump die-hard Marjorie Taylor Greene; the more radical wing, however, led by members of Congress like Greene, Sen. Josh Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz, has embraced the worst aspects of Trumpism and has pushed the party not just further to the right, but further from their hold on reality.
In the wake of the presidential election in November and the Big Lie that was spread by Donald Trump and his lackeys, it became clear that many of those Representatives and Senators that pushed that lie were more interested in power than in representation, and none were more interested than Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. They understood the hold that Trump exercised on his voters and recognized that, since he would soon be out of office, they would be able to assume the mantle of the party heading into the 2024 election. One of the results of being convicted in this impeachment trial would be that Trump would not be able to ever run for public office again, given that the charge he faces is the incitement of “violence against the government of the United States,” as presented by the House prosecutors. Here lies a great opportunity for these power-hungry Congressmen: to eliminate from the running the man who would be their greatest challenge to the Republican Party presidential nomination in four years. To these senators, and other members of Congress, who have shown that the pursuit of power comes before nearly anything else, an easier opportunity may never come along to vault themselves into a better position.
For senators like Mitch McConnell, who has corrupted American politics arguably more than anyone in history, the removal of Trump from American politics means he can go back to doing what he has always done: quietly disenfranchising voters to ensure that the Republican Party can hold power in the federal government despite representing millions of people fewer than the Democratic Party, while also obstructing Democratic governance and legislation that would benefit citizens. Instead of having someone like Donald Trump brazenly discuss Republican strategies for voter suppression out in the open, McConnell can go back to subverting American democracy in the shadows. He would also like to steer the party away from a continually radicalizing platform, which can alienate voters and shrink their potential voting base.
Republicans have an opportunity at this point; unfortunately, the incentive of getting rid of Trump for the simple betterment of the country and the American political sphere is not going to be enough. This is the Republican Party we’re talking about, after all. Thankfully, other incentives exist, as corrupted as they are. Donald Trump deserves to be convicted in this trial, and Republicans must step up.