Democrats Are Trying to Save the Republicans' Souls, But the GOP Prefers Damnation

Note on Saturday, 2/13: You could read all of this in past tense now. But it still stands. 

In their presentation of the ironclad case against Donald Trump, Democrats are offering Republicans that rarest of things in this time of wanton condemnation and belligerent tribalism: a chance at redemption. By cataloging Trump's sins against democracy and the stability of the nation, enabled and cheered on by most Republican senators and nearly all of the hooting maniacs in the Republican caucus in the House, yes, Democratic House managers have demonstrated that the Republican Party has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump Corporation. 

But they are not doing it merely to attack the craven lackeys of the disgraced former president. They are doing it to say, "This is what you've become. This is the man you have given the last shards of your wrecked integrity to." And then Democrats are giving Republicans this chance to untether themselves from Trump and his shrinking hordes of idiots. They are trying to save the debased souls of Republicans. It's a kindness, a mitzvah, as House manager Jamie Raskin eloquently placed the decision in terms of larger morality. 

Yet, almost assuredly, Republicans are going to vote for their own damnation. 

Right now, the only thing that can save the GOP from Trump is banning him from running for federal office. Trump knows the power he has over the party: he could, on a whim or on a grudge, start a third party and take a big chunk of Republicans with him. But that only works if he's on the top of the ticket in 2024. The number of rabid Don, Jr. devotees is gonna turn out to be pathetic, like low enough to make that desperate bastard cry more. So the equation is pretty simple: take a Trump run out of the picture and the Republican Party is free to go back to being basically the exact same thing it always was, a bunch of hateful motherfuckers who want to inflict maximum harm on the poor while enriching themselves and their donors but unburdened by the destructive oaf who will dominate them as long as he chooses to do so. 

Basically, you can break down the Republicans in the Senate into a few distinct categories in their relation to this reality:

You've got your ride-or-die ones, which includes the actual true believers (like quivering worms Mike Lee and Tommy Tuberville), Trump's ass remoras (like Lindsey Graham and Marsha Blackburn), and the fake Trump-humpers, like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who believe that they can take Trump's place as the God of the Yahoos once he's gone (which likely means they're gambling on him going to prison or being dead or too physically weak to run in 2024). Oh, and Rand Paul, but fuck that guy.

You've got your Sweet-Jesus-make-him-go-away ones, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski. That also includes assholes like Ben Sasse, who wants to run for president but without being eclipsed by an orange shadow. Also, fuck that guy.

And you've got your supposedly-savvy ones who, to the extent that we know, are wrestling with their votes. That includes Mitch McConnell, who wants his fucking power without having to deal with Trump  but also wants to retain power in the likelihood that Trump's acquitted and is watching things like the treatment of Liz Cheney and trying to figure out how to fit his square dick in a round hole so he can get the fuck out of this relatively unscathed. McConnell knows just enough to tell senators to vote their consciences, but he's not brave enough to tell them to vote to convict. As for the rest in this group, you've probably got your "I want to convict, but I won't because I don't want all the death threats" crowd, as well as your "I want to acquit because I suck but I know he's guilty and, goddamnit, I might actually have a conscience on this one thing since my family was scared I was going to die on January 6." You see that in the eyes of someone like Rob Portman. Fuck that guy.

(Side note: This would be the time to get donors to the GOP to make a statement. Will corporations stop supporting senators who vote to acquit? Because that would change some minds pretty fuckin' quickly.)

Look, we're almost certain about how this is going to go. Yes, Republicans will take damnation because that's who they are. It's who they've been for decades. They have successfully manipulated class resentment to their favor. They have exploited racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia and homophobia and weaponized it. They will drive the working class and those in poverty to their graves rather than raise taxes on the wealthy and pretend that that's the American way and, really, at this point, it kind of is. Reagan let the evangelical crazies in the door to the GOP, and it's been wide-open ever since, and it's a straight line from that to QAnon and the Proud Boys and the Trumpists taking over the joint.

Democrats have given Republicans a gift, a way to begin to purge themselves and demonstrate that there is a glimmer of decency left in them. It couldn't be more obvious that Trump spent years getting his followers ready to commit violence in his name. The vote to convict couldn't be more obvious. Democrats are practically begging Republicans to take this opportunity. The question is whether they are too dumb, too awful, too greedy, and/or too short-sighted to take it.

But, if they don't, it's also a trap. Barring any last minute shocks, they will vote to acquit. When they do, Republicans are saying that they belong to Trump. They are his loyal curs and they're just fine with that, as they have been throughout his terrible presidency, supporting him on his savage cruelties and abhorrent egomania. They are just fine with his violence and lawlessness. They are fine with him threatening their lives. They are fine with him continuing to pervert and contort all aspects of the American political system. They don't give a fuck about democracy. If they can get his blessings and a kind word, it's all good. 

As I've said before, to continue to support Trump is evil. Some people justify their evil through a larger ideological frame to make themselves feel better. And some people just like being evil.