Donald Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives. Recent Intelligence Committee hearings revealed that Trump abused his presidential power. He sought to bribe the Ukrainian president for personal political gain and tried to elicit the help of a foreign government in his reelection bid. Then he obstructed congressional investigations into his wrongdoing. The evidence the public hearings displayed was overwhelming and clear. Yet no Republican sitting on the Judiciary Committee empowered to formulate articles of impeachment will vote to jump ship. Moreover, Trump will be acquitted during a Senate trial. In all likelihood, few if any Republican senators will vote to convict him.
Despite the remarkable testimony of skilled, devoted and impartial public servants, the impeachment process will be long remembered as an acrimonious food fight between members of the two political parties. So why have Republicans chosen to turn a blind eye to Trump’s sobering abuse of power? Why do they staunchly defend him? Some have characterized Republicans as cowardly; described them as loath to infuriate their leader. And perhaps criticizing or rebuking Trump carries potential risk, even the loss of one’s political career. But cowardice does not explain why Republicans remain committed to their corrupt and venal leader.
The sobering reality is that Trump represents a dream come true for Republican conservatives, a robust answer to their prayers. For them, Donald Trump is the goose that keeps laying golden eggs. He has transformed the complexion of the federal judiciary and the tenor of the Supreme Court for many years to come. And this may be his enduring political legacy. But there is more, much more. From gutting governmental regulation, engineering the largest tax bonanza for the wealthy in our nation’s history and his stance on hot button cultural issues ranging from gun control to curbing abortion rights, Trump has done everything conservatives envisioned when he assumed office.
One can gasp at the remarkable irony of conservative Republican lawmakers taking aim at agencies like the FBI for being representatives of a “deep state”, while soft pedaling Trump’s extraordinary bromance with our nation’s most formidable political foe, Vladimir Putin. Does anyone remember what Republicans said about Trump’s reprehensible performance at the Helsinki summit, when he asked Putin if he interfered in the 2016 election and after Putin denied it, Trump responded that he believed him?
Donald Trump has not hijacked the Republican party. To the contrary, conservatives have been delighted to strike while the iron is hot; to seize the opportunity afforded by Trump’s leadership to realize their ambitious political agenda. Republicans have construed black as white and white as black during the impeachment process because they stand to gain politically. Trump has certainly embarrassed many Republicans with his vulgarity and, at times, infuriated them, say, when he abandoned the Iraqi Kurds after they vanquished ISIS. But Republican unwillingness to confront Trump during the impeachment process underscores how they will tolerate a frontal assault on the rule of law and the sanctity of our electoral process as long as their leader keeps bringing home the bacon. The Republicans are not feckless cowards when they defend the indefensible and support every last squalid drop of Trump’s tabloid presidency. It is far worse than that. They are abject cynics who turn their backs on the integrity of our democracy for the sake of narrow minded political gain. And there is no end in sight given the astonishing possibility of Trump’s reelection next year.
Neal Aponte, Ph.D.
Editor of Delano