As the horrors of last Wednesday and the GOP’s complicity in them have become more evident, an unlikely savior has emerged to save the Republican Party from years of electoral exile.
That person is Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
It seems unlikely Pelosi would want to rescue a party that has so vilified her over the years, smearing Democratic candidates as having her “San Francisco values” and the like. And she has responded in kind, often earning every ounce of the GOP-led rebuke she has received.
But by bringing an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the U.S. Capitol riots, Pelosi could hasten her opponents’ renewal. If she is successful in not only removing Trump from office but also barring him from ever holding elective office again, it would allow the Republican Party to shed the cement boots pulling it into the abyss.
It appears congressional Republicans are catching on. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said Tuesday that she would vote to impeach Trump. And several news organizations reported Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is done with Trump, wants Republicans to be done with him and is pleased that House Democrats are moving forward on impeachment.
Republicans have chance for freedom
Trump’s stranglehold on the GOP has been evident since he began running in 2015. As the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter recently noted, 54% of GOP respondents in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in October said they identified more as a supporter of Donald Trump than as a supporter of the Republican Party.
His domination of the GOP has forced obeisance not only among the party’s voters but also among its elected leaders.
Before Air Force One touched down in Georgia last week, according to Politico, Trump told Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler he would “do a number" on her during the runoff campaign rally if she didn’t back efforts to object to the counting of the electoral votes.
It’s not as though Loeffler needed cajoling — she had been a vigorous defender of Trump’s as her Tuesday election had drawn near. But sure enough, she took to Twitter to endorse his impossibly insane plan: "I will vote to give President Trump and the American people the fair hearing they deserve and support the objection to the Electoral College certification process."
The next day, Loeffler and GOP Sen. David Perdue both lost their Senate runoff elections, ensuring that Georgia, a once red state, will now have two Democratic senators.
After the storming of the Capitol, a shaken Loeffler announced she would no longer support objecting to the electoral vote count — but about 140 House Republicans still went along with the con even as blood was being cleaned up outside the doors of their chamber.
End Trump monopoly on GOP brains
If Trump were to escape punishment for egging on an armed insurrection against the U.S. government, he would no doubt live on to “do a number” on Republicans in the future. Conservative presidential aspirants would always be looking over their shoulders to make sure they were not crossing the disgraced former president, who would continue to enjoy a monopoly on the GOP’s frontal lobe simply by threatening to run in 2024.
But if the Senate convicted Trump at an impeachment trial and voted to bar him from holding office in the future, he would be robbed of an important cudgel he could use to keep party members in line. Sure, he would have a public platform to blast candidates from Mar-a-Lago or on whatever social media site eventually rises to host right wingers — but his threats would no longer have the imprimatur of an ex-president in good standing. They would instead be from someone deemed so dangerous by both parties that he had to be excommunicated from public life altogether.
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In fact, nothing could be better for Democrats than for Trump’s chain-rattling ghost to continue to haunt the Party of Lincoln. Cowardly Republicans continuing to flinch like abused dogs under the hand of a crazed tyrant who cheered on insurrectionists would not seem to be a winning electoral formula. Just ask Georgia voters.
Thus, congressional Republicans should view Pelosi’s impeachment drive less as an attack and more as a gift to allow their party to begin anew. They already whiffed when she offered the same opportunity in December 2019; now a second opportunity has arisen to set things right.
Impeachment, removal and banishment in the span of little more than a week seems like a long shot, but Trump is a tumor that needs to be cut from the GOP without any delay. And Pelosi is mercifully handing Republicans a scalpel.
Trump’s political career began with a lie about a president being ineligible to hold office. It should end, ironically, with Trump being the one to hold that dishonor.
Christian Schneider, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, is a senior reporter at The College Fix, a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors and author of “1916: The Blog.” Follow him on Twitter: @Schneider_CM
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Impeaching Trump is a gift Republicans should accept from Nancy Pelosi