TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: A Defining moment for the GOP. – Paul Utho

In an unprecedented turn of events after the 2020 US Presidential election which he lost, Donald Trump will be facing a second impeachment trial in the Senate after the House voted in support of the motion & delivered its article of impeachment to the Senate.

For the second time in the history of the US (the first during the Clinton Presidency but this time, with a higher number of members of the opposition voting in support), the House voted in a bipartisan manner to have a sitting president impeached after his supporters stormed the Capitol building in a ‘terrorist styled’ warfare fashion on January 6, demanding that the election of President Biden be not certified. Video evidence from the scene showed some of them chanting for the hanging of former Vice President, Mike Pence who was in Congress to perform his duty as President of the Senate. The mob also went about the Capitol building in search of other members of Congress who were at the time, certifying the electoral votes from each state. They ransacked offices, threatened officers, stole items & desecrated the hallowed Chambers of Congress.

That unfortunate incident viewed all around the world by millions of people, left 140 USCP and D.C police officers injured (including one officer who will lose his eye & another who was stabbed with a metal fence stake). It also led to the death of five (5) individuals, (including a serving police officer).

Earlier that day (January 6th), Donald Trump held a Save America rally outside the White House, calling on his supporters to walk to the Capitol to “stop the steal” of their votes and to take back their country, telling them “you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong”. His lawyer, Rudy Gulliani, who also spoke at the rally asked for a “trial by combat” approach to “the steal”.

The Presidential election held on November 3rd, 2020 and while the counting was still going on, Donald Trump declared himself the winner and demanded that they “stop the count” of the votes; a call that if heeded would have disenfranchised mail-in ballots which were yet to be counted.

In an effort to discredit the election with series of litigations that followed, the Trump campaign aggressively pursued a narrative that the election was stolen but the claims were totally rejected by numerous state & federal judges, electoral officials, governors and the electoral college. The Trump campaign filed over 80 lawsuits after he lost the election and lost all.

Trump’s case was also thrown out at the Supreme Court with a 6-3 majority, including three (3) justices appointed by him.
Not done, President Donald Trump took to his Twitter handle (with 88+million followers) on December 10 and tweeted, “This is going to escalate dramatically. This is a very dangerous moment in our history. The fact that our country is being stolen. A coup is taking place in front of our eyes and the public can’t take this anymore”.

He uped his rhetoric & fueled various conspiracy theories among his supporters which culminated in the attack on the Capitol on January 6th after a rally at the White House.
Following this bizarre but unfortunate incident, the House convened & impeached Donald Trump for the 2nd time in his first term as President of the United States and has now gone ahead to submit the article of impeachment to the Senate, which has fixed February 9th for trial to begin despite an attempt by 45 Republican Senators to stop the Senate from considering the article of impeachment. A record number of Five(5) Republican Senators broke rank with their party, along with Fifty(50) Democratic Senators, who voted to consider the article.

However, the Democrats face a herculean task as they will require 2/3(67) Senators to convict the former President of any wrongdoing. If convicted, Donald Trump may be barred from ever contesting an election or holding any public office in the US.
What does this all mean for the GOP as a party? What does the future hold?

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party), the second oldest extant political party in the United States is at a crossroad and is facing a ‘momentary’ identity crisis. It is caught in the web of identifying with the ideologies of its founding fathers as an independent political party with set goals and objectives OR identifying and standing with an individual who lost an election in a landslide after his first term in office as President and is accused of insurrection.

It is not the first time the GOP will lose a Presidential election, neither will it be the last. You win some, you lose some and that is the beauty of democracy; how the party reacts and what it does going forward will determine its short and long term future.

Does the GOP want to build its future around one individual and his family, who largely determines who runs for what office; a family who wants to exert absolute power & control over party members and hierarchy, a party of the super rich OR rebuild an all inclusive party with a level playing field for everyone, where people are respected, treated with equality and given equal opportunities; a party where individuals can freely express themselves without fear of retribution & intimidation?

The GOP did not lose the 2020 Presidential election because it is hated by Americans. The GOP lost the 2020 election because of its candidate & his style of leadership. Trump lost the popular vote in the 2016 election and lost more in the 2020 election.

Does the party want to break from the false narrative of a stolen election, chart the path of truth and build towards 2024 or does it want to stick with Trump’s catalogue of lies & misinformation?

Does the party want to continue to live in the shadow of Donald Trump or does it want to emerge as a beacon of light to Republican hopefuls?

Does the party want to remain a puppet and dance to the tingling of the bell on Donald Trump’s apron or does it want to be the free standing party, it has always been known for?
Does the party want to build its future around an individual and his family or build an all inclusive party?

Just last week, Arizona Trump Republicans voted to censure Cindy McCain, widow of the late Republican Senator, John McCain & two other prominent GOP officials because they didn’t buy into the false narrative of a stolen election nor supported Donald Trump.
This week, a GOP Qanon aligned lawmaker in the House and a prominent supporter of Donald Trump who expressed support for the execution of Democrats in a Facebook post, was rewarded with a seat in the Education committee
Is this the future of the Republican Party & how it wishes to be remembered?

As the Senate gets set to consider the articles of impeachment against former President Donald Trump on February 9, are the GOP Senators going to put the Constitution & Country ahead of their political ambitions?

Are the GOP Senators going to stand on the side of history & prevent a reoccurrence of what happened at the Capitol on January 6 or encourage it?

Before Trump, the Republican Party had a brand. It wasn’t Trump’s Republican Party. This impeachment process is an opportunity for the GOP to go back to its brand – THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. It is an opportunity for the Party to go back to its founding ideology of equality for all, not individualistic political gain for one or a few. It is an opportunity for the Party to present its vision of a diverse but united country not a divided one.

It is an opportunity to end the self delusion & stand shoulder high in opposition to Donald Trump and his co-conspirators in order to take back the party they love or watch as anti-democratic forces loyal to Trump destroy what is left of it.

It is an opportunity for the party to brand itself as one that puts the country & the constitution first before any individual. It’s an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past four(4) years and put constitutional democratic norms above ego, demagoguery, bigotry and self.

The GOP stands at the threshold of its own history. It can open a new door and liberate itself from the shackles of Trumpism or continue in its old path of peddling falsehood & misinformation among Americans. Whatever decision the GOP Senators make on February 9, will determine the future of the Party for next 4 years in the short term and another 16 years in the long term; they cannot have it both ways.

Paul Utho is a political commentator, a content creator & an advocate of good governance. He wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria. 

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