Mike Murphy, a Republican election consultant, recently remarked that “one Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump.” Everyone understands that Mr. Trump is wildly popular with conservative voters, and that Senate Republicans would rather not invite primary challengers by alienating them. But when the legitimacy and preservation of our democracy are at stake, striving to keep a Senate seat safe through craven betrayal of the American people could come at a catastrophic price to the country.
Mr. Trump has supplied American voters with overwhelming reason to doubt that any election he participates in can be fair. That’s why he can’t be allowed to run for any public office, much less the presidency, ever again.
If the House goes through with impeachment but the Senate acquits, Mr. Trump’s lawlessness will have been lavishly rewarded. He will take it as a signal that absolutely anything goes — especially given the Senate’s failure to act in any meaningful way on election security. Should he win, a sizable majority of the public will see it as an electoral coup and deny the validity of his claim to power. It’s easy to imagine enormous mass protests that bring Washington to a halt, dangerous indeterminacy in the continuity of government, and worse.
Senate Republicans who would vote in secret to remove Mr. Trump need to finally come to the defense of their country and do it in public. The odds of Republicans’ holding the Senate in a clean race are strong. But senators who choose to ignore the duties of their office in order to protect Mr. Trump will communicate with ringing clarity that they don’t care about having a fair election; that they don’t care whether the American people have really granted them the authority to govern; and that they think their own voters don’t care about any of this, either.
Senate Republicans owe us the courage of their private convictions. If they can’t find it, they should at least be wary of assuming that cultlike devotion to the president will allow them to weather the coming storm, or that, in the end, they will be rewarded for a faithless calculation to regard their constituents with contempt.
Choice selections from the article.
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