Now that everyone’s simmered down and weighing in on Saturday’s impeachment verdict, I’d like to point out that progressives are actually the true winners from last week’s political drama. Let’s take a pause from the whining and bitching to consider these three key gains as fallout from the trial.
Trump has been neutered, rendered ineffectual from public life and politics that matter
Yes the twice-impeached one-term ex and worst president of all time, Donald J. Trump, wasn’t convicted by a two-thirds Senate majority of inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol Riot. But he was repudiated by a majority of Senators (by a 57-43 vote) in the most bi-partisan impeachment trial in history. And many of those who voted to acquit on a technicality voice disdain for his role in last month’s deadly insurrection and attempted coup.
Trump is now and forever branded a seditious traitor, a toxic persona non grata who will never hold public office again, nor succeed as king maker or almighty smiter on any fantasy tour of retribution. No need to take my word for it. The ultra conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal said Sunday that Trump — whose inexcusable behavior surrounding the riot has marred his legacy for all time — “may run again, but he won’t win another national election.”
There are a handful of reasons this is so, but mostly it comes down to money and support. GOP and corporate bi-donors are warning they’ll no longer fund candidates who either refused to vote to impeach and/or promoted The Big Lie about election fraud that inspired the insurrection. And Trump’s stench has alienated enough moderate Republicans, that in an unlikely scenario where Trump becomes the GOP choice for 2024 president, a large enough swath of former supporters would either vote with progressives or sit that one out. Trump’s QAnon base-plus-a-few is not nearly enough to secure another win.
And it’s not even clear if Trump would actually want to run again. His niece Mary Trump and others have posited he would neither have the mental nor physical capacity to do so in four years. Plus a spate of upcoming investigations and criminal probes into his personal conduct and businesses promises to consume him. Personally I think Trump might feign interest in becoming the GOP’s 2024 primary candidate but then punt to his son Don Jr. to avoid losing another election biggly. A junior campaign would fail for the same reasons as his father’s would, because — to borrow Rick Wilson’s book title — everything Trump touches dies.
A fractured and Q-stamped Republican Party means more Democratic election wins
The GQP’s internal civil war is an apoplectic conundrum for the bulwark of traditional conservatives who can’t decide if they should stay or splinter from their QAnon MAGAs. The problem is they need each other to defeat Democrats in all but the most backwater, staunchly Republican corners of the nation. To splinter would be a death knell for a united conservative voice and allow Democrats to sweep elections watered down by third party candidates. But even if the party remains intact, voting patterns and recruitment will be defined by Trumpism for the foreseeable future. Reports abound of Republicans changing their voter registrations to Democrat or Independent (which still largely favor Dem candidates) in the wake of the Capitol Riot. And Gen Zers (those born after 1996) — the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever — was already solidly in the liberal camp before this GOP fracture by a 4-1 margin. “Trump-plus” as the feckless Lindsey Graham (R-SC) muses, is not a winning solution going forward.
This heavily documented textbook case of sedition should prevent the rise of a smarter, more adept Trumpian candidate
The repugnant Ted Cruzes, Josh Hawleys and other authoritarian wannabes from the MAGA fringe have now seen their political aspirations wilt like a sad case of E.D., thanks to the public record that ties them to The Big Lie and resulting insurrection. The phrase never again, a slogan once solely associated with the Holocaust and other genocides, has now defined a movement by progressives to #NeverAgain allow a facist Trumpian clone to occupy our White House and bring Democracy to its knees.
Ironically the archive of terror, sedition, mayhem and murder has been uniquely chronicled by insurrectionists’ own self-incriminating photos and videos. And this rich archive will only grow with the formation of a 9-11 style commission to investigate threads yet untouched by the impeachment. And if you think voters’ memories are short, recall that the original 9-11 commission took three years to release its final report — perfect timing for the next presidential election cycle.
I use the term *should* in the sub-head above, because as our current president Joe Biden reminded us this weekend, we cannot take our democracy for granted. In a statement released just hours after Saturday’s verdict, Biden said in part:
This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.
That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead. And it’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America.