The Impeachment Seven
As of this writing, millions of Americans across the country, particularly in Texas, are dealing with frigid temperatures and winter weather crippling the electric grid and local economies. Experts are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 variants, and their potential to prolong the pandemic. And what has the newly minted Democrat majority in the Senate been up to? An arguably unconstitutional impeachment of a private citizen.
To be clear, the former president and now private citizen Donald Trump was acquitted in the Senate 57-43 on February 13. While Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer's impeachment gambit failed to remove then-President Trump from office the first time -- and convict private citizen Trump the second time around, the fallout from impeachment will continue to shape American politics in the years to come.
The failed February 13 vote to convict Donald Trump for the events of January 6 fell short by 10 votes. Seven GOP senators joined Schumer and the Senate Democrats and voted to convict the former president: Senators Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.), and Ben Sasse (Neb.) all voted with the Senate Democrats. Each of these seven pro-impeachment GOP Senators are now facing a backlash in their states from the rank and file GOP.
Just 48 hours after the second failed impeachment vote, the North Carolina GOP central committee voted to censure Senator Burr. Similarly, the Louisiana GOP voted to censure Senator Cassidy, and the Alaska GOP voted to censure Senator Murkowski for their votes to convict. The state Republican parties in Maine, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Utah are also considering censuring Senators Collins, Toomey, Sasse, and Romney. In 2020, Trump won five of the seven states represented by these senators, some handily.
With the 2022 midterms already heating up, state parties weighing in to censure their sitting U.S. Senator at this stage is not an insignificant development. Among the seven pro-impeachment GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski stands out as a candidate who will be a test case for how GOP candidates perceived as anti-Trump fare, considering she will be up for reelection in 2022. Richard Burr and Pat Toomey have already announced they will not run for reelection in 2022, and thus will not have to face the voters in their states.
However, Senators Cassidy, Collins, Sasse, and Romney can likely expect voters in their states to sour on them as the state parties look to censure them for their vote to convict the man who led the GOP for four years: Donald Trump. In fact, the Louisiana Republican secretary Mike Bayham expressed hope that the Louisiana legislature might revamp the state's election law to allow for closed primaries, a move which would no doubt empower pro-Trump voters to exercise an increased influence on choosing candidates in the GOP.
This reaction from the state parties makes even more sense when you consider the intensity with which the GOP base is loyal to Trump. A recent CBS poll, prior to the second impeachment vote in the Senate, found that 70 percent of GOP voters would consider leaving the GOP and joining a third party if Donald Trump were to create a new party, signaling the GOP would go the way of the Whig Party should they choose to return to the pre-Trump Republican Party. There is no doubt that, in pure political machinations, candidates have from time to time benefitted from creating a reputation of being independent from ideological or political factions in order to survive tough reelection battles. We can and should celebrate those who have taken stands on principle (like voting for pro-life, pro-family, pro-religious liberty legislation when in doing so they will undoubtedly draw criticism from their constituents) and gone on to face the voters regardless. But, we should not be surprised when the GOP base -- as loyal to Donald Trump as it is because of his conservative policies -- recoils when their Senator votes with the Senate Democrats in what they perceive to be a politicization of the impeachment process.
It is doubtless that in the days, weeks, and months to come this vote will shape the GOP, and it is safe to say that it will not shape the GOP in any way other than in closer conformity to the policies the 45th president championed while in office. A jaded mind might say the Democrat intelligentsia is hoping for this very thing to happen so that they might continue to use the increasingly pro-Trump GOP to unite their dissimilar base of woke capitalists and neo-Marxists. However, if they get their wish, they'll face a unified GOP carrying the populist pro-life, pro-family, pro-religious liberty party in 2022, 2024, and so on, that has shown itself to be a formidable and diverse coalition.