On February 13th, the United States Senate held the second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump. The political event was a quick affair with little testimony and debate compared to all other impeachment trials. Senators ultimately voted mostly down party lines, with 57 senators finding Donald Trump guilty of insurrection and 43 voting not to convict the former president. This vote was historic as Donald Trump is now the only president to be impeached twice in American history. The results of the vote meant that Donald Trump would be acquitted from the charge of insurrection.
Trump’s continued protection from congressional republicans shows that Trump-era influence is still strong in the halls of congress. A majority of Republican senators still voted not to convict even though everyone agreed that Trump played a part in the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th. This unwillingness to move on means that congressional Republicans will most likely continue to parrot Trump-era motifs well into the 2022 elections. Congressional republicans most likely took this course of action to cultivate strong support from Trump supporters who still dominate the red strongholds of America. This strong support of Trump post-presidency also means that non-Trump loyal republicans will have to fight for survival.
The seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump have already faced backlash from their states. For example, Richard Burr of North Carolina was denounced by the North Carolina Republican Party. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who voted to convict Trump, was criticized by his state’s GOP organization. The punitive action taken by state GOP bodies shows how local republicans are willing to openly punish representatives that stray from the current ideals.
Future republican party endeavors in any level of politics will now feel the consequences of Trump’s acquittal. Moderate Republicans who don’t parrot Trump could easily be replaced in the 2022 congressional elections. Trump-era policies might be pushed more at the local levels, given that Democrats have taken over the federal government. Different brands of Trump’s ideology might spread throughout various factions of congressional republicans. Overall, the republican party will continue to wear its MAGA hat long after Trump leaves office.
The republican party’s swing towards holding Trumps’ ideals could have big consequences in the future. GOP leaders could win states in upcoming elections if Trump-era loyalty flares in former GOP strongholds. Republicans could also lose seats in the future to new moderate democrats that beat out former Trump cronies that are up for reelection. Another possible future is that a new moderate republican coalition could form at local levels and eventually regain control of the Republican seats in congress. The big question at the moment is whether sticking with Trump will win back the public or push them away.
Regardless of how congress and the public react to this event, Trump’s name will stay relevant in American politics for the foreseeable future.
Sources: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/02/13/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-the-senate-vote-in-the-trial-of-donald-trump/, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/14/gop-senators-who-voted-to-impeach-trump-facing-heat-at-home.html