There were two reasons I left the GOP in mid-2016 to be a conservative Independent. One of the reasons is still a problem today as most Republicans in the House of Representatives and the vast majority in the Senate are not limited-government-loving, federalism-minded conservatives. You can count on two hands the number of Senators who act and vote to rein in DC’s century-old power grab and return rights to states and individuals. The House isn’t as bad, but it’s been getting there with only the Freedom Caucus and a handful of others actually acting on the conservative principles they espouse every election season.
This hasn’t changed since 2016. If anything, it has gotten worse. The Republican Party may technically have a majority in the Senate if you count the number of R’s next to their names, but with people like Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski among them, the reality is the GOP has a deadlock at best. But it’s the other moderates, the ones who are allegedly on President Trump’s side, who concern me the most. I don’t trust them and neither should you. Until the impeachment trial is underway, motions are heard, and witnesses are questioned, there’s really no way to know whether President Trump’s future is secure.
By no means am I suggesting there will be enough Republicans voting in favor of impeachment to reach the supermajority needed to remove the President from office, especially when considering at least a couple of Democrats will likely vote against it. But HOW Republicans handle the impeachment trial will determine the degree of momentum President Trump gets from all of this. The House impeachment hearings didn’t have an effect on his approval ratings, much to the chagrin of both sides of the aisle. Democrats were hoping mainstream media’s nonstop negative coverage would hurt the President while Republicans assumed the people would feel the President was being victimized by a partisan impeachment inquiry. Neither really happened; even as popularity of impeachment faded, the President’s approval ratings were essentially unchanged.
Unlike Congressmen who try to make a spectacle out of most things they do, Senators tend to push for the status quo. Unless they’re running for President soon (see Kamala Harris and Cory “Spartacus” Booker during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings), Senators usually take the safest route possible to maintain their position, the highest that most of them will ever achieve in government. Impeachments are the trickiest business of them all because the play of the caucus is normally more in focus than the play of individual Senators. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not allow his members to push motions that will not draw a united or nearly-united vote. From the Senate’s perspective, it’s much better to skip a motion, such as to call a controversial witness like Joe Biden or alleged whistleblower Eric Ciaramella, than to openly fight amongst themselves over it.
They will take their shots when appropriate, but they’re not going to stick their necks out for President Trump the way House Republicans often did. The wildcard is, of course, President Trump himself. He will be calling for the most aggressive defense possible and may publicly bemoan his Senate team if he believes they’re not defending him fervently enough. That’s where things can get sticky. If some of the Senators decide to get cute (Romney, Collins, and Murkowski come to mind) they could actually help score 2020 election points for the Democrats. Of the three, Collins is the only one up for reelection in 2020.
Assuming House Democrats send articles of impeachment to the Senate, it’s desperately important for McConnell’s team to make a statement during the trial. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will be presiding over it, and while he’s no fan of President Trump, he’s unlikely to make a personal splash. He’s building a legacy out of court decisions, not through impeachment, and the last thing he wants is for his legacy to be overshadowed by uncanny actions during this debacle. We can expect him to give plenty of leeway to Republicans while not playing too harshly with Democrats. The Bush-appointee may not be the originalist we’d want in a Chief Justice, but at least he’s generally right-leaning on most issues. Impeachment is very partisan so he will stay out of it as much as possible.
There’s no need to make a show out of this, but it definitely needs to be an unambiguous slap against the Democrats themselves. While most conservatives would love for this to be a vehicle to expose Joe and Hunter Biden, confirm Ciaramella is the whistleblower, prove partisan ambitions are the driving force behind impeachment, and take down the Deep State before exonerating the President, that’s not what this needs to be about. The primary focus must be on proving two things: The President must not be removed from office and the House Democrats were wrong to draft the articles of impeachment in the first place. That’s it. Keep it simple.
They’re already going to be fighting a mainstream media headwind that will paint every action they do as partisan protectionism of the President, so they must accomplish their two goals in spite of the propaganda. This is another reason to keep it simple. If the wander off into slaying the Deep State or hitting Joe Biden, they’ll reinforce the preordained negative narrative the press will unleash on them. If they focus on the task at hand and handle it professionally, they can accomplish their goals and move onto the real work expected of Capitol Hill.
The last thing they need to do is get cute. No grandstanding. No controversial witnesses or premature motions to dismiss. Make the case quickly and methodically.
We know impeachment is a debacle. The House proved that. Now, the Senate needs to deliver a proper decision with the precision and diligence expected of the upper house of the U.S. Congress. Get it done and move along.
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