That is the question.
Some people look at a post-January 20th impeachment trial and possible conviction of Donald Trump for “incitement of an insurrection” as the equivalent of a posthumously awarded Oscar for best performance by a deranged, unhinged narcissist. Nothing will change except the first sentence in the recipient’s eventual obituary.
Others see it as a necessary affirmation of the 244 year-old foundation of American democracy. No person is above the law and must be held accountable for violations thereof.
And finally, there are those who need more time to think about it. Among them is Senate Majority Leader (for the next six days, two hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds, but who’s counting) Mitch McConnell. Whether he decides to cast his vote for or against conviction, there is little doubt he thinks it is a good idea. Why?
a) Because Trump is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States?
b) Because he believes Trump violated his oath of office.
c) Because we need to send a signal to any future president, regardless of political affiliation, such behavior is NEVER acceptable.
d) None of the above.
The correct answer is “D”. According to reporting by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman in the January 12th edition of the New York Times:
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes president Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking.
That’s right. It would make Mitch’s life easier. To quote a 1964 song by the Chad Mitchell Trio titled “Barry’s Boys,” you can hear Mitch echoing the following epithet first used in reference to Republican party officials to explain their support for presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.
“I’m an American first and a politician second.”
Spoken like a true American politician.
This may be the best argument yet to look for alternate ways to punish Trump. I, for one, can think of no better comeuppance for Mitch and the GOP than to leave Donald Trump on the field of play. Otherwise, as USA Today columnist Christian Schneider writes, ” Trump is a tumor that needs to be cut from the GOP without any delay. And Pelosi is mercifully handing Republicans a scalpel.” Or, if you believe the GOP has abdicated its position as the sane, thoughtful voice for conservatives, heed the words of the New York Times’ Tom Friedman.
While I want Trump out — and I don’t mind his being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart THIS Republican Party.
Maybe that happens whether Trump is convicted or not. But I, for one, wonder whether Democrats should hand Mitch a “gift” as Christian Schneider calls impeachment. To paraphrase an old adage, “Charity begins at home; accountability begins in the Republican Senate caucus.”
POSTSCRIPT: A DIFFERENT SHADE OF RED
The McRINO (my congressional representative in name only) who occupies the Florida District #4 seat in Congress is one of the 129 congressmen and senators who make up the Sedition Caucus that, on January 6th, objected to counting the electoral votes in six states won by Joe Biden. Since then, I have received several emails from our local band of “good troublemakers” asking what we should be doing to rid ourselves of this aider and abettor of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol. Most have suggested we need to find “a really good Democratic candidate to challenge him.”
In theory, that makes sense. But we had good candidates in 2018 (the year of the “blue tsunami”) and in 2020. In 2018, 32.4 percent of those casting ballots voted for Gus Selmont. This year Donna Deegan received 27.83 percent of the vote. That is what happens when voter registration in a gerrymandered district is 3:1 in favor of the GOP.
We in NE Florida are not alone. Many of the districts and states which sent the 129 truth deniers to Congress are solid red. Any expectation of a Democratic victory in these non-competitive races is a pipe-dream. Therefore, ridding Congress of seditious Trump psychophants may require a less desirable but necessary strategy.
Florida is a closed primary state. What if, for the upcoming 2022 mid-term elections, we all switched party affiliation so we could encourage and vote for a more rational, less extreme challenger in the Republican primary? Of course, nothing precludes us from then voting Democratic in the general election. There is one additional benefit. We would now have something in common with Republicans and independents who voted for the challenger. We all agree the incumbent does not deserve to be re-elected. If the incumbent survives the primary challenge, we can then say, “We tried our best to help you in the primary; please join us in November to achieve the same goal.”
If we are destined to be represented by a member of the GOP, should we not do everything we can to support one who is a cooler shade of red than an incumbent who can only be described as “flaming scarlet?”
For what it’s worth.