Trump’s Actions Leave Republicans Deeply Divided – Guest Author Nirmalya Chatterjee
The former President Trump’s second impeachment proceeding was swift. That was a wise strategy. The country has major challenges to tackle. Democrats presented vivid facts and clear logic. Defense arguments were largely bogus. The case wasn’t even close. But, as was predicted, it failed to achieve two-third majority support of the Senate for conviction. Some of the prominent conservative commentators summed it up – “A vote for acquittal is a vote for lie.” Suggested next steps range from forming a 9/11 style commission to investigate the insurrection to criminally prosecuting Trump as a private citizen for inciting the insurrection. It could take months, if not years, to sort through these calls for actions. But what is very clear is the deep division the Trump’s actions have created within the Republican party.
Fifty-seven votes at the Senate to convict Trump is an all-time record for impeachment trial. The seven Republican Senators, voting with all fifty Democrats, showed their unwavering commitment to the constitution and their responsibilities as Senators. They broke ranks with their own party – a courageous act because they knew they will face a strong backlash by the Trump base. Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, etc. are some of the notables in this group. Several State Republican Committees have immediately censored their Senators for their votes. Speaking of courage, it was Representative Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, who first spoke up at the House’s impeachment proceeding – “…There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution. I will vote to impeach the President.” Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who was a strong Trump supporter, said this about Trump – “…we should not have followed him. And we can’t let that ever happen again”. Ms. Haley is widely considered as a serious contender for 2024 Presidential nomination. These Republican leaders are standing up for the greater good of their party. They want their party to be protecting the constitution and democratic principles of the Republic. They want to regain the trust and confidence of the American people who deserted them in 2018 and 2020 elections. And, they are willing to fight for that even at the risk of their own political future.
The other end of the spectrum in the party are the leaders who have an undying loyalty to Trump. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was very vocal immediately after the Senate vote in support of Trump’s leadership of the GOP “… this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022.” Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rand Paul fall in this group. They all are very smart and highly educated. They are important leaders of the party and have strong support of their constituents. But, they are well aware of the risk of crossing Trump and losing the support of the Trump base. They truly believe that GOP’s 2022 election prospects would be jeopardized without Trump at the helm. They have become adept at flip-flopping their positions on Trump as situations required.
There is yet a third group within the party that wants to distance itself from Trump and condemn his actions but does not want to appear as if they are aligning with the Democrats to go against Trump. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell exemplifies this group. He made scathing remarks on the Senate floor after the vote stating Trump is ‘practically and morally responsible for inciting the insurrection with his lies’. He even went a step further by suggesting that Trump should be criminally prosecuted for his actions. Many shook their heads in dismay on Senator McConnell’s bizarre vote to acquit Trump yet criticize him in one of the strongest terms. Senators Graham and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin quickly slammed Senator McConnell for his anti-Trump remarks. Some suggested that Senator McConnell is trying to do damage control of the major corporate donors who are backing away from funding the Republicans. Senator McConnell, along with several other senior leaders, want to move the party away from Trump and reposition the party to regain Senate and House seats in 2022 elections.
Mr. Trump, on his part, has been lying low since the insurrection of January 6. Besides, he has several looming lawsuits that he will have to contend with. Nevertheless, he is a fighter. It is in his DNA to keep fighting and never give in. A sizable portion of the seventy-four million that voted for him are very loyal to him and are fully committed to his MAGA ideas. Mr. Trump is likely to put candidates in the Republican primaries against those who did not support him. He will vigorously campaign for those candidates just like he did against his former Attorney General Jeff Session in the Alabama Senate election engineering his defeat. That’s when the infighting within the Republican party could get very ugly and further hurt them. Democrats are likely to stay aligned under Biden-Pelosi-Schumer leadership and make the most of their new-found authority despite their internal differences in policy-priorities between the progressives and the centrists. But, on the other hand, if Mr. Trump continues to lead the GOP, the fire within the party will probably keep burning.
Nirmalya Chatterjee is an 11 year resident of Las Vegas. He is a management consultant for consumer products and the hospitality industry. During his professional career, Nirmalya had several senior levels and ex-pat assignments. He was the Chief Financial Officer for Coors Brewing Company; Vice President of Finance for Las Vegas Sands Corporation; Sr. Vice President of Finance, Galaxy Entertainment Macau; and General Manager of Revlon India. Most recently, Nirmalya served as the Chairman of the Hindu Temple and Jain Center of Las Vegas. Nirmalya holds an MBA from Rutgers University.
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