It shocked many people when U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) voted against the impeachment of former President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida).
McConnell’s reasoning is hard to fathom. McConnell obviously hates Trump, he followed up his vote with a speech blaming Trump for the 6 January 2021 Capitol Insurrection. In the speech, the minority leader called Trump’s behavior unconscionable.
Moreover, the Republican Party could be the biggest beneficiary of Trump’s impeachment. To explain, an impeached official cannot seek federal office, including the presidency, again.
Impeachment Was Good for Republicans
Impeachment would have permanently sidelined Trump, clearing the way for Republicans to nominate an electable candidate in 2024. Currently, Trump can run again. I think a Trump 2024 run will tear the Republican Party and make it impossible for Republicans to win many races, including the presidency.
Yet McConnell refused to vote for impeachment and even claims he will support Trump if the party nominates the Donald in 2024. Note: I do not believe McConnell will support Trump in 2024.
Why? The minority leader’s explanation that he thinks the impeachment of ex-officials is unconstitutional rings hollow. Remember, McConnell does not care about the Constitution.
Trump is now a Democratic Problem
I think a more plausible scenario is that McConnell is trying to make Trump a Democratic problem.
To elaborate, President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) could ignore an impeached Trump. If Trump makes presidential noises, Biden will have no choice but to prosecute the ex-president. Indeed, Biden will be under powerful pressure from Democrats and many Republicans to prosecute Trump for the insurrection.
I do not know if they can convict Trump for the insurrection. However, I think a Trump prosecution could only help Republicans.
How a Trump Prosecution will help Republicans and harm Democrats
If prosecutors succeed and Trump goes to prison, he will become the perfect martyr for the Republican cause.
Republicans can run on Trump without the Donald himself around to fuck things up. Republicans can win elections by cranking the persecution of conservatives, Christians, and white people hysteria.
Yet the same Republicans will not lift a finger to help Trump. I think McConnell wants Trump in prison far from the campaign trail. He hopes Democrats will oblige him.
If prosecutors fail, Democrats will look bad because they did not send the evil Orangeman to prison. If Biden refuses to prosecute, he opens himself to attacks and challenges from any other Democrat running on the “jail the crooked Donald” ticket.
Indeed, the “jail the crooked Donald” could become the only issue in Democratic politics. I think that could turn voters off and drive them to Republicans (or whatever third party Trump forms).
Trump is Still a Republican Problem
Conversely, a Trump prosecution could fatally damage Republicans too. If prosecutors uncover evidence that shows Trump was part of a conspiracy to attack the Capitol, Republicans will look foolish for supporting him.
If prosecutors offer evidence Trump and his minions planned to kill Republican leaders such as Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) and McConnell, it could permanently split the Grand Old Party (GOP). Finally, Republicans could become unelectable if prosecutors prove prominent Republicans knew about the insurrection or planned it.
To elaborate, Republicans candidates will have to go before voters and prove they did not conspire to storm the Capitol, kill police officers, and lynch political leaders. Even if the candidates are innocent, they will look terrible.
Will Trump Destroy the Republican Party?
Thus, Trump is still a Republican problem. A problem could destroy the party if he is free to run for President in 2024. McConnell and company could have solved that problem by impeaching Trump.
I have to wonder if Republicans are still a credible national political party with Trump as their standard bearer. Can our two-party system survive if one party collapses?
Remember, there is no credible third party in America and has not been for over a century. Will voters accept a one-party government? Can a system with one political party be democracy? Can a one-party system avoid corruption and dictatorship?
I predict McConnell and company will regret their refusal to impeach Trump. Trump is a problem they could have ended. Instead, they will make the problem worse by allowing the Donald to remain an active force in American politics.