Why Republicans wouldn't convict Trump
Convicting the former president would have required accepting a half-century of Republican guilt
On Saturday, the Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. While seven Republicans voted to convict, making it the most bipartisan vote in favor of conviction in a presidential impeachment in history, 43 voted to acquit Trump. In reality, the outcome was never in question because Republicans could not convict Trump without indicting their entire party. Trump may have been the one who invited the angry mob to Washington on Jan. 6, and then stirred them up with repeated false claims about a stolen election. However, the events on that shameful day — and indeed Trumpism itself — simply represent the culmination of a half-century of Republican strategy to mobilize and empower both white-nationalist sentiment and reactionary Christian fundamentalism.
Whether they were bearing crosses, waving Confederate flags, toting automatic rifles or wearing “Make America Great Again” paraphernalia, those who gathered in Washington on Jan. 6 all spoke a common language of white grievance, convinced that traditional American values are under assault by elite leftist intellectuals, feminists, immigrants, members of the LBGTQ community, African American activists and a mainstream media that promoted their agenda.
For them, “Make America Great Again” was not simply a slogan. It embodied a set of intertwined beliefs that compelled them to seize control of the Capitol, attempt to overturn a free and fair election and return the nation to a time when White, native-born, God-fearing, heterosexual men dominated every aspect of national life.
This identity struggle can be traced to the summer of 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson inked two signature pieces of legislation, one dealing with voting rights and the other with immigration. Together, these laws transformed the nation’s demographic landscape and empowered marginalized groups to challenge the dominant social order.