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Carroll County Times Opinion

Edelman: Time for Republicans to uphold country’s core beliefs or let Trump off the hook | COMMENTARY

Today, the Senate begins its second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. He is charged with incitement of insurrection. The facts in this case are not in question. The Jan. 6 gathering was planned well in advance; Trump tweeted on Dec. 19, urging his supporters to “be there. Will be wild.” At the event, he spoke to the crowd, saying, “The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher. ….When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules. ... We won in a landslide. This was a landslide. … We must stop the steal … .”

The inevitable consequence of Trump’s angry words was an angry, violent mob storming the Capitol.

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The facts are not in question. What is, is which Republican Party will show up in the Senate to cast votes when this trial comes to a vote.

The GOP is fragmented. At least three groups have emerged from the wreckage caused by the Trump presidency.

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One small fragment is a group that puts country above politics. These are the senators, congresspeople, and elected local government who have consistently stood up to Trump. They include the handful of congresspeople who publicly stood for the rule of law by voting to impeach Trump last month.

That group includes Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney. All of them received fierce criticism from within their own party. Donald Trump Jr. said Romney should be “expelled from the Republican Party,” and his niece, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said his actions “feed into what the Democrats want.” Last Thursday, Kinzinger was censured by the Republican Central Committee of the county he represents for “acting contrary” to its values. House Republicans held a vote to strip Cheney of her leadership role in their caucus. Last Saturday, the Wyoming GOP censured her for her conscientious vote.

House Republicans voted by a 145-61 margin to retain Cheney in her position as chair of the House Republican Conference. This vote revealed a second schism in the party: hardcore Trump supporters separated themselves from the party majority. We can only guess who the 61 diehard Party of Trump members are, but we know what they stand for: shielding Trump from the scorching spotlight of justice.

Some of the 120 or so Republicans who supported Cheney and still voted against the article of impeachment did so to avoid complete disintegration of the party that marched in lockstep behind Trump. A few might have thought Cheney’s vote was principled, but meaningless, “He’s out of office, so why waste our time on an impeachment vote?” Others would have supported the impeachment article had the vote been in secret. Those are the ones who know full well that Trump did what he was impeached for but were too timid to stand on principle. Their cowardice is understandable, but not acceptable, in light of actions like the Arizona GOP’s vote to censure three Republicans for failing to support Trump, that vindictive vote coming after the Jan. 6 riot.

Those are the factions that make up the Republican Senate and which will decide Trump’s fate: those putting country above party; the ones trying to shield themselves from a pro-Trump backlash, and those still defending the indefensible.

Those differences manifested themselves last week in the case against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Only after the GOP refused to act against her crazy, hate-filled, anti-Semitic, violence-laden, truth-denying screeds, several of which called for executing Democratic politicians — only then did Democrats, with support from 10 brave Republicans, vote to remove her from her committee assignments. Sunday morning talk shows featured Republicans who swore vengeance against Democrats when they regain the majority. They would not need to: Democrats would act swiftly and decisively to remove a Democrat who threatened to assassinate a Republican or accused a school shooting of being staged.

In a sense, all politics is moral. Virtually every person running for office does so because they believe the things they want to do with the power we grant them would result in improving the country and bettering conditions for the people. That moral perspective cuts across party lines. When the Senate takes up the case against Trump, it will have a chance to affirm our country’s core beliefs. Or it can let Trump off the hook. It cannot do both.

Mitch Edelman, vice chairperson of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee, writes from Finksburg. His column appears every other Tuesday. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com.


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