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Trump’s acquittance: A Republican mistake
Should the Republican party be disappointed with this result?
By Jack Garrard
17th February 2021 13:45 GMT
On February the 13th, the majority of Senators voted to impeach the former president, Donald Trump, for inciting a mob in the same building the vote was held a month before. A surreal event. However, only 57 Senators voted in favour of his impeachment, falling short of the 67 needed to find him guilty. This, it seemed, would always be the outcome, with votes needed from 17 republicans to convict him, but this does not mean it was a waste of time.
For starters, it made history, being the first time any President has been trailed for impeachment twice, and the first one carried out after their presidency. It also did see 7 Republicans vote against their former president, an act that carries significant importance, perhaps showing the changing of the tides for the party, and a move back toward the centre. It also begins a flurry of trails related to the riots at the Capitol building last month. Even Trump’s lawyers said that those attacking the building were criminals, and if Trump is not to blame, there will be a guilty party found soon.
The changing of the tides is a strong talking point surrounding Republicans right now. Many important party members, such as Nikki Haley, a former UN ambassador, have been very disappointed in Trump’s treatment of the former VP Mike Pence, a man who is highly regarded by those around him. But this doesn’t seem to have tainted the views of the voters.
Trump still mains the candidate of choice for 2024 for the majority of Republican voters, and he is synonymous with his strong connection to base Republican voters. This will also favour him in the primary elections, where base support dominates turnout, which is what won him an unlikely victory in the 2016 primaries, before an even more unlikely win in the election.
But the truth is, if Trump was to win the primaries in 2024, it would be political suicide for the Republican party unless his public image and approval ratings change massively before those elections. The riots at the Capitol building were one of the most politically blind decisions of the past decade and lost him not just the centre vote, but some centre-right voters too. Voters that he will need to win over if he wishes to have a second term in office.
The best move the Republicans could’ve made would’ve been to find him guilty on the 13th of February. It seems so backwards that a party should convict their own former president to have better chances at the next election, but it is true. Moving on is so important for them right now, and Trump will simply hold them back from doing so. He is almost certainly going to run for the presidency again, and his chances of winning the Primaries are disappointingly high. Victory for him would mean near-certain victory for the Democrats.
But for now, it is important not to look upon the former president’s trail as a missed opportunity, but as a springboard for the party and American politics as a whole. If the Republicans want to succeed, Trump must be left behind.
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