What a Leader Should Do

The Trump Trial is underway and could end any day now. It has been a spectacle of spineless constitutional degradation. Alan Dershowitz argued that a President isn’t committing a crime if he’s helping himself get elected, which in theory would help the country. Or, more plainly, if the President is helping himself, he’s helping all of us. But really what Dershowitz is saying is that a President, specifically Donald Trump, can do whatever he wants.

Do not give that train of thought any sustained scrutiny, as it is an exercise in sadness. The implications are clear: the Executive Branch has become fully unhinged from any semblance of congressional oversight. Trump is in full control now. Does he want to run for more than two terms? Fine. Bribe corporations or blackmail a foreign government? He did it for us.

Have one of his political opponents executed? Hey, if it helps him win an election…

Because a two thirds majority is required to convict, the chances of the Senate Democrats peeling away enough votes to remove Trump are infinitesimally small. Hypothetically, each Senator is their own person with their own choice to make. Each has a vote, and each will eventually have an election to win. Each has to sleep at night. But let’s go ahead and dispel the illusion that any of the Republicans in the upper chamber will exercise their own free will, use their conscience, or make a thoughtful choice for the greater good of the country. Trump’s fate, or rather the lack thereof, is sealed.

Still, we can pretend. In another universe, one of the respective Senate leaders could find a way to shift the balance of power away from the runaway train that is the Trump administration. One would imagine that reasserting their authority over an out of control president would be in the Senate’s best interest. For that to happen, it would require a mass defection; a seismic shift in the Republican ranks. While the media loves to speculate about the Romney’s and Murkowski’s on the Hill, there is really only one Senator with the true power to lead such a charge.

That is, of course, Mitch McConnell. If McConnell assured his fellow Republicans that they would be protected from the noisy outrage of the Trump Base, the Senate would almost certainly vote to remove Trump. McConnell can guarantee that any insurgent votes cast would not face repercussions from the RNC – no one else in the Senate wields the power to offer this. 

The pitch would be easy. Trump is infamously unpopular among both aisles of the Senate. Public declarations of support are one thing, but the slew of anonymous grumblings and misgiving from the Senate GOP have been growing. Not to mention the allure of glory; the chance to make a real mark on history. Defectors would be offered the chance to be a profile in courage, like Daniel Webster or Lucius Lamar. They could stand on the steps of Capitol Hill as American heroes, figures of history, someone who stood strong for the Constitution and what is right, despite party lines, to stop a tyrant. For someone like say, Mitt Romney, that alone might catapult him into the presidency.

Mitch has a good reason to try this. By rallying the votes to remove Trump, he could deliver to the country a new, (relatively) more stable leader like Pence or Romney, ultimately winning the Republican’s another eight years to both stack more conservative justices on the Supreme Court and continue the spread of similarly like-minded judges across the upper judiciary circuits.

After a Trump conviction, Romney would likely trounce any of the wobbly, bickering Democrat front-runners. The country would love him simply because he is not Trump. Romney is essentially Joe Biden, except without the hideous Democrat label that so utterly terrifies large swaths of the voting population. Indeed, his brand of palatable conservatism is likely preferable to many “liberal” voters over someone like that damn dirty socialist Sanders.

Yes, the initial shock would be rough, but in the end McConnell still gets to accomplish his goals while preserving what little integrity our so-called Democracy still has. Instead of capitulating yet again to a senile, wannabe dictator, McConnell could position himself as the true leader of the Senate, dramatically altering his legacy for the better. Indeed, the difficult choice to remove Trump is the choice that a true leader would make.

But McConnell is not a true leader, and obviously none of this will happen. What will happen is that the individual Senators of the Republican Party are going to use Dershowitz’s perverse logic to sell their vote to the public. The vote will fall along party lines, save for a few meaningless defections that, at this point, are more likely to occur among the ranks of the Democrats (looking at you, Doug Jones and Joe Manchin). Maybe one among the GOP hems and haws. But if someone like Susan Collins has tethered herself to Trump for this long, it stands to reason that she’ll ultimately vote to keep him in office. 

The Republicans have proven they have no soul. They have proven to be immoral blobs who are only concerned with appeasing both Trump and legions of vengeful supporters. They have no conscience and not one ounce of integrity among them. So, the vote, and this entire impeachment, are a farce, an exercise in futility and an affront to democracy.

But, like Dershowitz says, whatever helps Trump get elected, right?