This OpEd was first published on American Consequences.
Newly empowered Democrats have spent a lot of time telling America that this is a time for “unity.” This appears strange to even a casual observer of politics, because they’re also insisting that best way to bring the country together is through a second impeachment of Donald Trump, even though he’s no longer the president of the United States.
That’s right- if you thought the era of Trump domination of the headlines was over, think again. The sole article of impeachment against the former president has been transmitted from the House of Representatives. Starting in February, there will be a Senate trial of Donald John Trump, former president of the United States, on one charge of “incitement to insurrection.”
“We all want to put this awful chapter behind us,” newly elevated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said recently, but “Healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide.” Indeed, what could make the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump feel better than a vindictive, post-presidency punishment phase? Unity through division appears to be the order of the day.
While there’s no benefit from this if Schumer and the Democrats really wanted to “heal” the country, it does serve some obvious goals. Immediately, it will placate or energize a large portion of the Democrat base that continues to suffers from Trump derangement syndrome. Orange Man” is still bad, as the saying goes, even when he’s no longer the leader of the free world. They want him punished and humiliated, along with all his voters.
The corporate media at places like CNN and the New York Times are certainly cheering on impeachment 2.0. They took Trump’s Twitter and press conference jabs very personally over the years, and they will neither forgive nor forget, best interests of the country be damned. They also have a vested interest in weaning their audiences off the steady diet of “Trump the fascist” over time. It would be bad for business if suddenly the virtue signaling masses on the urban coasts no longer had their favorite villain to hate.
Politically, the second trial of Trump is likely a win-win for Democrats. At a minimum, it will expose some of the establishment GOP vs. MAGA fractures that the Capitol Hill riot on January 6th blasted apart. The Democrats need 17 GOP Senators to go along- which seems an unlikely number- but Senator Mitt Romney already seems to be a vote for conviction. There could be several others, like Rob Portman of Ohio (who’s just announced he’s not running for reelection) or Susan Collins of Maine.
Even if the final Senate trial vote fails to meet a 2/3 majority, it will probably have some bipartisan coalition for conviction. The brand damage to Trump alone from this would be worth it for the Democrats. Added to that would be the disgust of the Trump base with the GOP apparatus, which could imperil any chance of taking back control of Congress in 2022, and there could be major impacts of this second impeachment effort against Trump.
Then there’s the long shot possibility- unlikely as it may seem- that the Democrat do manage to squeeze out 17 GOP Senate votes. As Trump is no longer in office, he can’t be removed from it. He can, however, be barred from holding future office. If Democrats achieve this, they will have used a Constitutional-prescribed process to not only repudiate Trump, but kick him to the political sidelines once and for all.
One thing we do know for sure: Trump doesn’t back down from a fight, especially when the odds are against him. He’s already set up the “Office of the Former President” from Florida. Rumors are swirling that his children will run for a range of offices in the years ahead. This Senate trial is supposed to be the coup de grace for MAGA, but it could end up mobilizing Trump world in ways that a quiet post-presidency in Mar a Lago never could.