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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: February 14, 2021
Posted: February 14, 2021 at 2:11 pm
Seven Republican senators voted to convictformer President Trump on the charge of incitement to insurrection, joining Democrats to make it it a far more bipartisan vote than Mr. Trump's first impeachment trial. But the final vote of 57-43 fell short of the 67 votes that would have been needed for conviction.
The Republicans voting to convict were Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Romney's vote was all but a given, and the votes from Collins and Murkowski weren't unexpected. Perhaps the most surprising vote came from Burr.
But something distinguishes most of the Republicans who voted to convict Mr. Trump most of them aren't up for reelection soon. Murkowski is the only one of the group facing reelection in 2022. Burr and Toomey aren't running for another term.
Collins and Murkowski asked some of the most probing questions on Friday when senators had the chance to pose questions to the defense and to the House impeachment managers.
Collins, Murkowski, Romney and Sasse also joined Democrats in voting to call witnesses Saturday, as did Repubilcan Senator Lindsey Graham. But Democrats ultimately backed off on calling witnesses.
Several of the senators released statements explaining their decisions following the vote Saturday.
"As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict," Burr wrote. "I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary."
Cassidy posted a video statement on Twitter, saying, "Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty."
Toomey issued a statement saying, in part: "I was one of the 74 million Americans who voted for President Trump, in part because of the many accomplishments of his administration. Unfortunately, his behavior after the election betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him.
"His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction."
Read this article:
Posted: at 2:11 pm
During the first trial of Donald J. Trump, 13 months ago, the former president commanded near-total fealty from his party. His conservative defenders were ardent and numerous, and Republican votes to convict him for pressuring Ukraine to help him smear Joseph R. Biden Jr. were virtually nonexistent.
In his second trial, Mr. Trump, no longer president, received less ferocious Republican support. His apologists were sparser in number and seemed to lack enthusiasm. Far fewer conservatives defended the substance of his actions, instead dwelling on technical complaints while skirting the issue of his guilt on the charge of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
And this time, seven Republican senators voted with Democrats to convict Mr. Trump the most bipartisan rebuke ever delivered in an impeachment process. Several others, including Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, intimated that Mr. Trump might deserve to face criminal prosecution.
Mr. McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor after the vote, denounced Mr. Trumps unconscionable behavior and held him responsible for having given inspiration to lawlessness and violence.
Yet Mr. McConnell had joined with the great majority of Republicans just minutes earlier to find Mr. Trump not guilty, leaving the chamber well short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict the former president.
The vote stands as a pivotal moment for the party Mr. Trump molded into a cult of personality, one likely to leave a deep blemish in the historical record. Now that Republicans have passed up an opportunity to banish him through impeachment, it is not clear when or how they might go about transforming their party into something other than a vessel for a semiretired demagogue who was repudiated by a majority of voters.
Defeated by President Biden, stripped of his social-media megaphone, impeached again by the House of Representatives and accused of betraying his oath by a handful of Republican dissenters, Mr. Trump nonetheless remains the dominant force in right-wing politics. Even offline and off camera at his Palm Beach estate, and offering only a feeble impeachment defense through his legal team in Washington, the former president continues to command unmatched admiration from conservative voters.
Indeed, in a statement celebrating the Senate vote on Saturday, Mr. Trump declared that his political movement has only just begun.
The determination of so many Republican lawmakers to discard the mountain of evidence against Mr. Trump including the revelation that he had sided with the rioters in a heated conversation with the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy reflects how thoroughly the party has come to be defined by one man, and how divorced it now appears to be from any deeper set of policy aspirations and ethical or social principles.
After campaigning last year on a message of law and order, most Republican lawmakers decided not to apply those standards to a former commander in chief who made common cause with an organized mob. A party that often proclaimed that Blue lives matter balked at punishing a politician whose enraged supporters had assaulted the Capitol Police. A generations worth of rhetoric about personal responsibility appeared to founder against the perceived imperative of accommodating Mr. Trump.
Lanhee Chen, a Hoover Institution scholar and policy adviser to a number of prominent Republican officials, said the G.O.P. would need to redefine itself as a governing party with ambitions beyond fealty to a single leader.
When the conservative movement, when the Republican Party, have been successful, its been as a party of ideas, Mr. Chen said, lamenting that much of the party was still taking a Trump-first approach.
Many Republicans are more focused on talking about him than about whats next, he said. And thats a very dangerous place to be.
In recent weeks, the party has been so submerged in internal conflict, and so captive to its fear of Mr. Trump, that it has delivered only a halting and partial critique of Mr. Bidens signature initiatives, including his request that Congress spend $1.9 trillion to fight the coronavirus pandemic and revive the economy.
Mr. Trumps tenure as an agent of political chaos is almost certainly not over. The former president and his advisers have already made it plain that they intend to use the 2022 midterm elections as an opportunity to reward allies and mete out revenge to those who crossed Mr. Trump. And hanging over the party is the possibility of another run for the White House in three years.
It remains to be seen how aggressively the partys leadership will seek to counter him. Mr. McConnell has told associates that he intends to wage a national battle in 2022 against far-right candidates and to defend incumbents targeted by Mr. Trump.
But by declining to convict Mr. Trump on Saturday, Mr. McConnell invited skepticism about how willing he might be to wage open war against Mr. Trump on the campaign trail.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ridiculed Mr. McConnell for his ambivalent position after his floor speech, calling his remarks disingenuous and speculating that he had delivered them for the benefit of his financial backers who dislike Mr. Trump.
The vote by Republicans to acquit Mr. Trump, she said in a statement, was among the most dishonorable acts in our nations history.
Only a few senior Republicans have gone so far as to say that it is time for Mr. Trump to lose his lordly status in the party altogether. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the highest-ranking House Republican to support impeachment, said in a recent television interview that Mr. Trump does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.
Several of the Republican senators who voted for conviction on Saturday thundered against Mr. Trump after he was acquitted, in terms that echoed Ms. Cheneys explanation last month of her own vote to impeach him.
By what he did and did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, said Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, a senior lawmaker who is close to Mr. McConnell.
But the lineup of Republicans who voted for conviction was, on its own, a statement on Mr. Trumps political grip on the G.O.P. Only Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is up for re-election next year, and she has survived grueling attacks from the right before.
The remainder of the group included two lawmakers who are retiring Mr. Burr and Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and three more who just won new terms in November and will not face voters again until the second half of the decade.
More typical of the Republican response was that of Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, a Trump loyalist serving his first term. The trial, he said on Saturday, was merely a political performance aimed at undermining a successful chief executive.
In Washington, a quiet majority of Republican officials appears to be embracing the kind of wishful thinking that guided them throughout Mr. Trumps first campaign in 2016, and then through much of his presidency, insisting that he would soon be marginalized by his own outrageous conduct or that he would lack the discipline to make himself a durable political leader.
Several seemed to be looking to the criminal justice system as a means of sidelining Mr. Trump. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who voted for acquittal, noted in a statement, No president is above the law or immune from criminal prosecution, and that includes former President Trump.
Prosecution may not be a far-fetched scenario, given that Mr. Trump is facing multiple investigations by the local authorities in Georgia and New York into his political and business dealings.
But passing the buck has seldom paid off for Mr. Trumps adversaries, who learned repeatedly that the only sure way to rein him in was to beat him and his legislative proxies at the ballot box. That task has fallen almost entirely to Democrats, who captured the House in 2018 to put a check on Mr. Trump and then ejected him from the White House in November.
Still, Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, a longtime Trump ally who has been critical of the former president since the November election, told reporters in the Capitol on Friday that he believed Mr. Trump would be weakened by the impeachment trial, even if the Senate opted not to convict him. (Mr. Cramer, who also called the trial the stupidest week in the Senate, voted for acquittal.)
Hes made it pretty difficult to gain a lot of support, Mr. Cramer said of Mr. Trump. Now, as you can tell, theres some support that will never leave, but I think that is a shrinking population and probably shrinks a little bit after this week.
An even more categorical prognosis came from Ms. Murkowski.
I just dont see how Donald Trump will be re-elected to the presidency again, Ms. Murkowski said.
If that projection seems anchored more in hope than in experience, there are good reasons for Republicans to root for Mr. Trumps exit from the political stage. He is intensely unpopular with a majority of the electorate, and polls consistently found that most Americans wanted to see him convicted.
Even in places where Mr. Trump retains a powerful following, there is a growing recognition that the partys loss of the White House and the Senate in 2020, and the House two years before that, did not come about by accident.
In Georgia, the site of some of the partys most stinging defeats of the 2020 campaign, Jason Shepherd, a candidate for state party chair, said he saw the G.O.P. as grappling with the kind of identity crisis that comes periodically with a loss after youve had a big personality leading the party, likening Mr. Trumps place in the party to that of Ronald Reagan.
Republicans, Mr. Shepherd said, had to find a way to appeal to the voters Mr. Trump brought into their coalition while communicating a message that the G.O.P. is bigger than Donald Trump. But he acknowledged that the next wave of candidates was already looking to the former president as a model.
Republicans are trying to position themselves as the next Donald Trump, he said. Maybe, in terms of personality, a kinder and gentler Donald Trump, but someone who will stand up to the left and fight for conservative principles that do unite Republicans.
Here is the original post:
Posted: at 2:11 pm
In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the phone lines and websites of local election officials across the country were jumping: Tens of thousands of Republicans were calling or logging on to switch their party affiliations.
In California, more than 33,000 registered Republicans left the party during the three weeks after the Washington riot. In Pennsylvania, more than 12,000 voters left the G.O.P. in the past month, and more than 10,000 Republicans changed their registration in Arizona.
An analysis of January voting records by The New York Times found that nearly 140,000 Republicans had quit the party in 25 states that had readily available data (19 states do not have registration by party). Voting experts said the data indicated a stronger-than-usual flight from a political party after a presidential election, as well as the potential start of a damaging period for G.O.P. registrations as voters recoil from the Capitol violence and its fallout.
Among those who recently left the party are Juan Nunez, 56, an Army veteran in Mechanicsburg, Pa. He said he had long felt that the difference between the United States and many other countries was that campaign-season fighting ended on Election Day, when all sides would peacefully accept the result. The Jan. 6 riot changed that, he said.
What happened in D.C. that day, it broke my heart, said Mr. Nunez, a lifelong Republican who is preparing to register as an independent. It shook me to the core.
The biggest spikes in Republicans leaving the party came in the days after Jan. 6, especially in California, where there were 1,020 Republican changes on Jan. 5 and then 3,243 on Jan. 7. In Arizona, there were 233 Republican changes in the first five days of January, and 3,317 in the next week. Most of the Republicans in these states and others switched to unaffiliated status.
Voter rolls often change after presidential elections, when registrations sometimes shift toward the winners party or people update their old affiliations to correspond to their current party preferences, often at a department of motor vehicles. Other states remove inactive voters, deceased voters or those who moved out of state from all parties, and lump those people together with voters who changed their own registrations. Of the 25 states surveyed by The Times, Nevada, Kansas, Utah and Oklahoma had combined such voter list maintenance with registration changes, so their overall totals would not be limited to changes that voters made themselves. Other states may have done so, as well, but did not indicate in their public data.
Among Democrats, 79,000 have left the party since early January.
But the tumult at the Capitol, and the historic unpopularity of former President Donald J. Trump, have made for an intensely fluid period in American politics. Many Republicans denounced the pro-Trump forces that rioted on Jan. 6, and 10 Republican House members voted to impeach Mr. Trump. Sizable numbers of Republicans now say they support key elements of President Bidens stimulus package; typically, the opposing party is wary if not hostile toward the major policy priorities of a new president.
Since this is such a highly unusual activity, it probably is indicative of a larger undercurrent thats happening, where there are other people who are likewise thinking that they no longer feel like theyre part of the Republican Party, but they just havent contacted election officials to tell them that they might change their party registration, said Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida. So this is probably a tip of an iceberg.
But, he cautioned, it could also be the vocal never Trump reality simply coming into focus as Republicans finally took the step of changing their registration, even though they hadnt supported the president and his party since 2016.
Kevin Madden, a former Republican operative who worked on Mitt Romneys 2012 presidential campaign, fits this trend line, though he was ahead of the recent exodus. He said he changed his registration to independent a year ago, after watching what he called the harassment of career foreign service officials at Mr. Trumps first impeachment trial.
Its not a birthright and its not a religion, Mr. Madden said of party affiliation. Political parties should be more like your local condo association. If the condo association starts to act in a way thats inconsistent with your beliefs, you move.
As for the overall trend of Republicans abandoning their party, he said that it was too soon to say if it spelled trouble in the long term, but that the numbers couldnt be overlooked. In all the time I worked in politics, he said, the thing that always worried me was not the position but the trend line.
Some G.O.P. officials noted the significant gains in registration that Republicans have seen recently, including before the 2020 election, and noted that the party had rebounded quickly in the past.
You never want to lose registrations at any point, and clearly the January scene at the Capitol exacerbated already considerable issues Republicans are having with the center of the electorate, said Josh Holmes, a top political adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader. Todays receding support really pales in comparison to the challenges of a decade ago, however, when Republicans went from absolute irrelevance to a House majority within 18 months.
He added, If Republicans can reunite behind basic conservative principles and stand up to the liberal overreach of the Biden administration, things will change a lot quicker than people think.
In North Carolina, the shift was immediately noticeable. The state experienced a notable surge in Republicans changing their party affiliation: 3,007 in the first week after the riot, 2,850 the next week and 2,120 the week after that. A consistent 650 or so Democrats changed their party affiliation each week.
But state G.O.P. officials downplayed any significance in the changes, and expressed confidence that North Carolina, a battleground state that has leaned Republican recently, will remain in their column.
Relatively small swings in the voter registration over a short period of time in North Carolinas pool of over seven million registered voters are not particularly concerning, Tim Wigginton, the communications director for the state party, said in a statement, predicting that North Carolina would continue to vote Republican at the statewide level.
In Arizona, 10,174 Republicans have changed their party registration since the attack as the state party has shifted ever further to the right, as reflected by its decision to censure three Republicans Gov. Doug Ducey, former Senator Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain for various acts deemed disloyal to Mr. Trump. The party continues to raise questions about the 2020 election, and last week Republicans in the State Legislature backed arresting elections officials from Maricopa County for refusing to comply with wide-ranging subpoenas for election equipment and materials.
It is those actions, some Republican strategists in Arizona argue, that prompted the drop in G.O.P. voter registrations in the state.
The exodus thats happening right now, based on my instincts and all the people who are calling me out here, is that theyre leaving as a result of the acts of sedition that took place and the continued questioning of the Arizona vote, said Chuck Coughlin, a Republican strategist in Arizona.
For Heidi Ushinski, 41, the decision to leave the Arizona Republican Party was easy. After the election, she said, she registered as a Democrat because the Arizona G.O.P. has just lost its mind and wouldnt let go of this fraudulent election stuff.
The G.O.P. used to stand for what we felt were morals, just character, and integrity, she added. I think that the outspoken G.O.P. coming out of Arizona has lost that.
This is the third time Ms. Ushinski has switched her party registration. She usually re-registers to be able to vote against candidates. This time around, she did it because she did not feel that there was a place for people like her in the new Republican Party.
I look up to the Jeffry Flakes and the Cindy McCains, she said. To see the G.O.P. go after them, specifically, when they speak in ways that I resonate with just shows me that theres nothing left in the G.O.P. for me to stand for. And its really sad.
Mr. Nunez, the Army veteran in Pennsylvania, said his disgust with the Capitol riot was compounded when Republicans in Congress continued to push back on sending stimulus checks and staunchly opposed raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
They were so quick to bail out corporations, giving big companies money, but continue to fight over giving money to people in need, said Mr. Nunez, who plans to change parties this week. Also, Im a business owner and I cannot imagine living on $7 an hour. We have to be fair.
Though the volume of voters leaving the G.O.P. varied from state to state, nearly every state surveyed showed a noticeable increase. In Colorado, roughly 4,700 Republican voters changed their registration status in the nine days after the riot. In New Hampshire, about 10,000 left the partys voter rolls in the past month, and in Louisiana around 5,500 did as well.
Even in states with no voter registration by party, some Republicans have been vocal about leaving.
In Michigan, Mayor Michael Taylor of Sterling Heights, the fourth-largest city in the state, already had one foot out the Republican Party door before the 2020 elections. Even as a lifelong Republican, he couldnt bring himself to vote for Mr. Trump for president after backing him in 2016. He instead cast a ballot for Mr. Biden.
After the election, the relentless promotion of conspiracy theories by G.O.P. leaders, and the attack at the Capitol, pushed him all the way out of the party.
There was enough before the election to swear off the G.O.P., but the incredible events since have made it clear to me that I dont fit into this party, Mr. Taylor said. It wasnt just complaining about election fraud anymore. They have taken control of the Capitol at the behest of the president of the United States. And if there was a clear break with the party in my mind, that was it.
Mr. Taylor plans to run for re-election this year, and even though its a nonpartisan race, community members are well aware of the shift in his thinking since the last citywide election in 2017.
He already has two challengers, including a staunch Trump supporter, who has begun criticizing Mr. Taylor for his lack of support for the former president.
Read the original here:
Posted: at 2:11 pm
US President Donald Trump looks on after presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Celtics basketball legend Bob Cousy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 22, 2019.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
A CNBC survey conducted in the days before former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial finds a large share of Republicans want him to remain head of their party, but a majority of Americans want him out of politics.
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey shows 54% of Americans want Trump "to remove himself from politics entirely." That was the sentiment of 81% of Democrats and 47% of Independents, but only 26% of Republicans.
When it comes to Republicans, 74% want him to stay active in some way, including 48% who want him to remain head of the Republican Party, 11% who want him to start a third party, and 12% who say he should remain active in politics but not as head of any party.
"If we're talking about Donald Trump's future, at the moment, the survey shows he still has this strong core support within his own party who really want him to continue to be their leader," said Jay Campbell, a partner with Hart Research and the Democratic pollster for the survey.
But Micah Roberts, the survey's Republican pollster, and a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, emphasized the change from when Trump was president. Polls before the election regularly showed Trump with GOP approval ratings around 90%, meaning at least some Republicans have defected from Trump.
The online poll of 1,000 Americans nationwide has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%. It was conducted Feb. 2-7, before Trump's trial in the Senate for insurrection and fomenting the riots of Jan. 6 at the Capitol. In the unlikely event of conviction, Trump could be barred by the Senate from ever holding federal public office again.
The poll shows Trump retains strong support among Americans without college degrees, a key demographic for the GOP: 89% of the group want him to remain in politics, including 52% who want him to stay head of the Republican Party. That's the highest percentage of any group, and a potential warning sign for Republican Party leaders should they choose to vote to convict Trump.
The Senate impeachment vote: Will there be any Republican profiles in courage? – Brookings Institution
Posted: at 2:11 pm
As the Senate nears its second vote on whether or not to convict former President Trump and bar him from holding future office, the outcome, in spite of a riveting prosecution and a chaotic defense, appears to be a foregone conclusion. Only a handful of Republican senators seem poised to vote to convict Trump, far short of the 17 Republicans that would be needed in addition to all the Democrats. So far speculation about which Republicans may join the Democrats is based on pure political calculus. Will senators who have announced their retirement such as Ohios Rob Portman (or who plan to retire but havent announced yet) feel free to vote for conviction? Will senators (like Louisianas Bill Cassidy) who recently won re-election and who therefore have six years to soothe the angry Trump supporters in their state vote for conviction?
The term refers to a book by that name written by then-Senator and later President John F. Kennedy in 1956. In it he tells the story of eight United States senators, from different political parties and different regions of the country, who at one or more points in their career took a highly public stand which infuriated the voters in their political party or in their state. For many of these men, courage was its own reward. The true democracy, writes Kennedy, puts faith in the peoplefaith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment [p. 264]. And for some of them, a courageous vote, one which brought about the fury of their constituents, did not end their political career at all.
For instance, when John Quincy Adams was a senator from Massachusetts he broke from his partyThe Federalist Partyover the issue of retaliating against the British with an embargo that cut off international trade. His home state, a center of trading and shipping, was so furious at him that the legislature threw him out of the Senate a full nine months before the end of his term. But in spite of that setback, Adams went on to win the presidency in 1824 and after that served in the House of Representatives until he died.
Sam Houston, one of the first two United States senators from Texas, was also dismissed from the Senate by his legislature whose members were furious over his votes for measures designed to preserve the union and prevent civil war. For his vote on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Houston was denounced as a traitor. Nonetheless he stated, It was the most unpopular vote I ever gave but the wisest and most patriotic (p. 124). In spite of the fury directed at him Houston was returned to the Senate two years later, where he served until being elected Governor of Texas.
And Senator Lucius Lamar of Mississippi shocked the nation by giving a eulogy full of praise for radical republican Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. He also supported a series of measures which were anathema to his constituents in the fractious and dangerous years following the Civil War, often siding with the North. But he survived politically. He was re-elected to the Senate, and went on to be Secretary of the Interior and a justice of the Supreme Court. When he was under attack for his views he had this to say:
The Liberty of this country and its great interests will never be secure if its public men become mere menials to do the biddings of their constituents instead of being representatives in the true sense of the word, looking to the lasting prosperity and future interests of the whole country (p. 197).
As the Senate vote looms the big question is this: will there be any profiles in courage among Republican senators? Kennedys book from over half a century ago teaches us that there are more important things than winning re-election and that political courage does not always mean political failure.
 In those days state legislatures elected United States senators.
Posted: at 2:11 pm
(Reuters) - Dozens of former Republican officials, who view the party as unwilling to stand up to former President Donald Trump and his attempts to undermine U.S. democracy, are in talks to form a center-right breakaway party, four people involved in the discussions told Reuters.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
The early stage discussions include former elected Republicans, former officials in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump, ex-Republican ambassadors and Republican strategists, the people involved say.
More than 120 of them held a Zoom call last Friday to discuss the breakaway group, which would run on a platform of principled conservatism, including adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law - ideas those involved say have been trashed by Trump.
The plan would be to run candidates in some races but also to endorse center-right candidates in others, be they Republicans, independents or Democrats, the people say.
Evan McMullin, who was chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election, told Reuters that he co-hosted the Zoom call with former officials concerned about Trumps grip on Republicans and the nativist turn the party has taken.
Three other people confirmed to Reuters the call and the discussions for a potential splinter party, but asked not to be identified.
Among the call participants were John Mitnick, general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security under Trump; former Republican congressman Charlie Dent; Elizabeth Neumann, deputy chief of staff in the Homeland Security Department under Trump; and Miles Taylor, another former Trump homeland security official.
The talks highlight the wide intraparty rift over Trumps false claims of election fraud and the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Most Republicans remain fiercely loyal to the former president, but others seek a new direction for the party.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump on Jan. 13 on a charge of inciting an insurrection by exhorting thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol on the day Congress was gathered to certify Democrat Joe Bidens election victory.
Call participants said they were particularly dismayed by the fact that more than half of the Republicans in Congress - eight senators and 139 House representatives - voted to block certification of Bidens election victory just hours after the Capitol siege.
Most Republican senators have also indicated they will not support the conviction of Trump in this weeks Senate impeachment trial.
Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy, McMullin told Reuters. The party needs to recommit to truth, reason and founding ideals or there clearly needs to be something new.
Asked about the discussions for a third party, Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, said: These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden.
A representative for the Republican National Committee referred to a recent statement from Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
If we continue to attack each other and focus on attacking on fellow Republicans, if we have disagreements within our party, then we are losing sight of 2022 (elections), McDaniel said on Fox News last month.
The only way were going to win is if we come together, she said.
The Biden White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
McMullin said just over 40% of those on last weeks Zoom call backed the idea of a breakaway, national third party. Another option under discussion is to form a faction that would operate either inside the current Republican Party or outside it.
Names under consideration for a new party include the Integrity Party and the Center Right Party. If it is decided instead to form a faction, one name under discussion is the Center Right Republicans.
Members are aware that the U.S. political landscape is littered with the remains of previous failed attempts at national third parties.
But there is a far greater hunger for a new political party out there than I have ever experienced in my lifetime, one participant said.
Reporting by Tim Reid; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 2:10 pm
Were looking for solutions, said Mr. Young, who until recently was the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm and is eager to turn back to policy.
Mr. Schatz, who is friendly with some of these senators, put a finer point on their motivation: If Im going to suffer through the Trump era, then I may as well enact some laws.
In Louisiana, though, the thoroughly Trumpified Republican Party expects only continued fealty to the former president.
Mr. Cassidy confronted immediate criticism for his vote and comments on Tuesday.
I received many calls this afternoon from Republicans in Louisiana who think that @SenBillCassidy did a terrible job today, Blake Miguez, the State House Republican leader, wrote on Twitter, repurposing Mr. Cassidys critique of Mr. Trumps lawyers. I understand their frustrations and join them in their disappointment.
Even a fellow member of the Louisiana congressional delegation, Representative Mike Johnson, weighed in. A lot of people from back home are calling me about it right now, noted Mr. Johnson, a Republican, who said he was surprised by Mr. Cassidys move.
Perhaps he should not have been.
As Stephanie Grace, the longtime political columnist for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, wrote in a December piece anticipating Mr. Cassidys shift, he has long been part of bipartisan efforts to solve problems, even if his solutions probably go too far for some Republicans and stop way short of what many Democrats want.
Mr. Cassidy, a former Democrat like Mr. Kennedy and many Southern Republicans their age, has long been less than dogmatic on health care, a viewpoint he formed working in his states charity hospitals. This has always been more than a little ironic to Louisiana political insiders, given that in 2014 he unseated Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, thanks to conservative attacks on former President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act. (On Wednesday, Ms. Landrieu said of Mr. Cassidy, Many people in Louisiana are proud of him, including me.)
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A mob of former President Donald Trump supporters breached the U.S Capitol security on Jan. 6. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
A mob of former President Donald Trump supporters breached the U.S Capitol security on Jan. 6.
The mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol may have been a fringe group of extremists, but politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the U.S. public, according to a new survey by the American Enterprise Institute.
The survey found that nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that "if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions."
That result was "a really dramatic finding," says Daniel Cox, director of the AEI Survey Center on American Life. "I think any time you have a significant number of the public saying use of force can be justified in our political system, that's pretty scary."
The survey found stark divisions between Republicans and Democrats on the 2020 presidential election, with two out of three Republicans saying President Biden was not legitimately elected, while 98% of Democrats and 73% of independents acknowledged Biden's victory.
The level of distrust among Republicans evident in the survey was such that about 8 in 10 said the current political system is "stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values." A majority agreed with the statement: "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it."
The survey found that to be a minority sentiment two out of three Americans overall rejected the use of violence in pursuit of political ends and Cox emphasized that the finding reflected "attitudes and beliefs" rather than a disposition to do something.
"If I believe something, I may act on it, and I may not," Cox says. "We shouldn't run out and say, 'Oh, my goodness, 40% of Republicans are going to attack the Capitol.' But under the right circumstances, if you have this worldview, then you are more inclined to act in a certain way if you are presented with that option."
The AEI survey found that partisan divisions were also evident along religious lines. About 3 in 5 white evangelicals told the pollsters that Biden was not legitimately elected, that it was not accurate to say former President Donald Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol, and that a Biden presidency has them feeling disappointed, angry or frightened.
On all those questions, Cox says, white evangelicals are "politically quite distinct." Majorities of white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, Catholics, followers of non-Christian religions and the religiously unaffiliated all viewed Biden's victory as legitimate.
The AEI survey found that white evangelicals were especially prone to subscribe to the QAnon movement's conspiracy theories. Twenty-seven percent said it was "mostly" or "completely" accurate to say Trump "has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites." That share was higher than for any other faith group and more than double the support for QAnon beliefs evident among Black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics and non-Christians.
"As with a lot of questions in the survey, white evangelicals stand out in terms of their belief in conspiracy theories and the idea that violence can be necessary," Cox says. "They're far more likely to embrace all these different conspiracies."
The survey also found "considerable cleavages" among Americans with respect to pride in their national identity. About 6 in 10 said they are proud to be an American, but the finding varied along generational and race lines, with significantly lower levels of national pride among younger and nonwhite people.
The AEI report was based on a survey of 2,016 U.S. adults conducted between Jan. 21 and Jan. 30.
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(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
In a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, the bumbling patriarch Homer tries to shirk jury duty by wearing trick glasses that make it look like hes wide awake during the trial while hes in fact enjoying a nap. Homer is meant to be an oaf, albeit a sometimes lovable one. But even in his buffoonery, Homer still took his responsibilities as a juror more seriously than many Republican senators, who are being singularly cavalier about the solemn duty of weighing whether to convict an impeached president.
At least Homer Simpson showed up for his jury dutyeven if he didnt stay conscious. But 15 Republican senators failed to be present in either mind or body for substantial parts of the third day of the impeachment, as members of the House of Representatives painstakingly laid out the case that Trump riled up a mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6. Thom Tillis was visible in the GOP cloakroom reading his phone, reported Manu Raju of CNN. Another CNN reporter, Jeremy Herb, noted that Senator Rick Scott had a blank map of Asia on his desk and was writing on it like he was filling in the names of the countries. According to Forbes, Many within the chamber were preoccupied with other activities: Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were reading papers
Some Republicans werent just disengaged from the proceedings but were trying to help the former president whose guilt they were supposedly to judge. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee all met with Trumps defense team to discuss legal strategy.
Impeachment is, of course, a political rather than a legal process, so senators have wide leeway for what rules they can set for their own conduct. Still, jurors meeting in private with a defense team is highly unusual. It highlights a core problem: How can political figures who are completely complicit with Trumps actions sit in judgment of him? MORE FROM Jeet Heer
The Republicans who were paying attention did give credit to the Democratic managers for the cogent, forceful, well-documented case they are presenting. Texas Senator John Coryn told reporters, I have to compliment the impeachment managers just in terms of their presentation preparation. I thought it was excellent.
The Democratic managers are going out of their way to present a case that is bipartisan, clearing a path that would allow Republicans to vote for impeachment without feeling they have abandoned their party. In his presentation on Thursday, Representative Ted Lieu noted that former members and long-standing Republicans also made clear that President Trump incited this insurrection and it went against our democracy. Lieu quote Republican governors Spencer Cox, Charlie Baker, Mike DeWine, and Phil Scott. He also quoted many quondam Trump officials such as former secretary of defense James Mattis, former chief of staff John Kelly, and former national security adviser John Bolton. Lieu concluded by drawing attention to all the Republican White House officials who resigned after January 6.
Lieus message was clear: What Trump did was a violation of principles Republicans and Democrats hold in common. This is not a partisan impeachment but one Republicans should be able to participate in with the knowledge that they are condemning acts opposed across the political spectrum.Current Issue
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The clarion call of bipartisan civic-mindedness has had little success in recent decades, nor is it likely to heeded this year. As Susan B. Glasser pointed out in The New Yorker,
A year ago, when Trump faced his first trial, Mitt Romney was the only Senate Republican to vote for his conviction. This time, despite the trial taking place at the actual scene of the crime, Romney was joined by only five other Republicans in voting to allow the trial to proceed. Whether or not those six ultimately vote to convict, the final number of Republicans is sure to be well below the two-thirds majority required for conviction.
We wont know the actual votes until the trial wraps up in a few days, but every indication is that there will be, as Glasser suggests, a handful of Republican votes to convict: possibly four, maybe five, with luck six, in the best possible scenario a few more than six. But still almost certainly well short of needed 17 Republican votes.Related Article
Why have most Republican senators resolutely shut their ears to the case for convicting Trump? Some do so out of ideological conviction. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley were egging on the insurrection as much as Trump was, so to condemn the former president would be to admit their own guilt.
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But a wider swath of Republican senators are surely motivated by fear. They have good reason to worry about their personal safety and their political future. Trump has shown he can excite the mob and they would be likely victims of future attacks, just as Republican officeholders in Georgia faced death threats after resisting Trumps pressure to alter election results.
In electoral terms, convicting Trump is almost certainly a sure loser for Republicans. As Axios reports, State and county Republican apparatuses throughout the country are punishing those in their own party who want to hold the former president accountable, signaling that Trumps grasp on the GOP remains unfaded.
Defending his opposition to Trumps trial, Senator Josh Hawley said, The Republican Partyif it belongs to anybodyit belongs to the voters, the people who sent us here. Thats who Im accountable to.
These words reflect a profound misunderstanding of democracy. Senators are responsible not just to their voters but to the entire country and to the constitution. Hawley doesnt seem to recognize that hes elected to represent not just those who voted for him but all Missourians. Which means he has to think beyond the dictates of party at least on occasion. There are few more pressing times for abandoning partisanship than during an impeachment.
As Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, articulated in his classic speech to the electors of Bristol in 1774, the job of the elected official is not just to mirror his constituents but to exercise his ability to debate and reason in pursuit of the common good. As Burke insisted, Your Representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Even in the 18th century, when democracy was much more rudimentary, few voters wanted to hear that their elected officials would sometimes have to go against their preferences. Burkes pill is even harder to swallow in our more populist epoch. Still, the fundamental principle is sound: Elected officials are often just mouthpieces for popular grievancesand in normal run-of-the-mill politics, thats fine. But on a few momentous occasions, political leaders have to look beyond their base to the greater interest of the nation.
With the second impeachment of Donald Trump, it looks like almost all congressional Republicans will have failed to live up to their civic duty. This failure of democracy can only be redressed by the more vigorous pursuit of democracy. If the Republicans fail to convict Trump, then Democrats have both the opportunity and the duty to remind voters in future elections that the shame of January 6 belongs not just to Trump but also to his party.
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of former Republican officials considering a new center-right political party to counter former President Donald Trumps influence would face steep challenges in shaking up a U.S. political system that has favored two-party rule throughout its history.
Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol is seen behind a statue of former President George Washington, before the second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Al Drago
Reuters exclusively reported on Wednesday that more than 120 Republicans - including former elected officials, along with former administrators under Trump and former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush - met virtually on Feb. 5 to discuss forming a third party or a new center-right faction.
Two of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans in Congress - Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois - rejected the idea of a breakaway party in statements to Reuters on Thursday. Other Republican critics of Trump expressed similar skepticism - arguing a third party would accomplish little beyond splitting the votes of conservatives and helping Democrats get elected.
The resistance to a third party among some of Trumps toughest Republican critics underscores the extreme difficulty of such a political revolt. Such an effort would require walking away from the Republican Partys massive political infrastructure - staff, money, connections and data on donors and voters - that would take years if not decades to build from scratch.
An upstart party would also have little chance of succeeding without a charismatic leader who could capture the loyalties of millions of disaffected voters, said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who was a senior advisor to the Republican primary campaign of Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida, in 2016.
If somebody was going to start a third party that was going to gain some traction, it would be Trump and not his opponents, said Conant.
Kinzinger joined the Feb. 5 video conference of the anti-Trump group and spoke for about five minutes, a spokeswoman told Reuters. But the congressman wants to reform the party from within, she said. He has recently formed a new political action committee to support Republican primary challengers running against pro-Trump House Republicans such as Matt Gaetz, of Florida, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia.
A spokesman for Cheney told Reuters in a statement that she opposes any effort to split the party, saying it would only make it easier for Democrats to enact policies that conservatives oppose.
Both Cheney and Kinzinger were among just 10 House Republicans, a small minority, who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
A more likely outcome of an anti-Trump movement would be for centrist Republicans to try to purge Trumpism from within its own ranks, said David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida who recently quit the party in protest of Trump and declared himself an independent.
A party of center-right conservatives could never create a broad enough coalition to win national elections, Jolly said. And Trump has effectively undercut his more moderate opponents among Republican voters, he said, by ridiculing them as Never Trumpers and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).
Its just impossible to escape the never Trump label, he said.
Others argue it would be much harder to wrest power over the Republican Party from Trump.
Lets not kid ourselves; we are not going to change this party, said Jim Glassman, a former undersecretary of state under George W. Bush.
Glassman gave a five-minute presentation on the Feb. 5 call advocating for a new party. Any effort to reclaim the party would be a soul-deadening slog, he told participants.
He told Reuters on Thursday that he sees the Republican Party as now thoroughly in thrall to Trump - and beyond repair.
I thought, if Trump lost by 7 million votes, there may have been a chance to do that, he said in an interview. But events since the election have made clear thats not going to happen.
Asked on Wednesday about the discussions for a third party, Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, said: These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden.
Glassman believes there are enough Republican donors who are disgusted with Trump and willing to finance a new party. He believes a new conservative party could also attract maybe one fifth of Republican voters who disapprove of Trump, along with some independents and Democrats. Further, he said, running third-party candidates in House and Senate races would force the Trumpist candidates to tack to the center in general elections and temper the shrill partisanship of those races.
Many people at the Feb. 5 virtual gathering agreed with Glassman. In a poll of participants, about 40% of those in attendance supported creating an entirely new party, according to one source with direct knowledge of the discussions. About 20% favored creating a faction within the party, and an equal number supported creating a faction outside the party, though it remained unclear exactly how such an independent faction would operate.
While they disagreed on strategy, participants in the meeting said, attendees united on the need to organize and advocate for a return to principled conservatism that prizes the rule of law and adherence to the Constitution, ideals they believe Trump has violated.
Among the group at the Feb. 5 meeting was Elizabeth Neumann, former deputy chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security under Trump. Shes enraged at Republican lawmakers continued support for Trump in the wake of his stolen-election claims, which she had repeatedly warned - before the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots - could lead to violence. Now she wants to politically target the lawmakers who voted, in the hours after the deadly insurrection, to overturn the presidential election result - and shes open to any strategy that might work.
I hear arguments that we should break off and form a new party, or we should stay inside the party. There will come a time when this crystallizes, Neumann told Reuters on Thursday. At the moment, Im more focused on the individual people and holding them accountable.
Historically, third parties have generally failed in U.S. elections, particularly at the presidential level, often serving more as spoilers than true contenders.
Theodore Roosevelt, a charismatic war hero, had served two previous terms as president but lost in 1912 when he ran as a Progressive - or Bull Moose - Party candidate, finishing second, with more votes than the Republican candidate, in a three-way race ultimately won by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. That was the last time any third-party candidate won more votes than either of the two major party presidential candidates.
More recently, the most successful third-party candidate was Texas billionaire Ross Perot, whose self-financed Reform Party campaign in 1992 earned him 19% of the vote in a race won by Democrat Bill Clinton, who unseated incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush.
In other cases, supporters of losing presidential nominees have blamed third-party candidates for siphoning off voters. In 2016, some backers of Democrat Hillary Clinton were frustrated by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, whose percentage of the vote was greater than Clintons margin of defeat in key states.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, asked about the prospects for a new party, told Reuters: Thatd be a good way to allow the Democrats to always win.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn laughed when asked by Reuters about a possible third party.
More power to em, he said.
Cornyn, however, predicted shared opposition to President Bidens agenda will hold Republicans together. He said he hopes life in the Republican Party will return to something more normal in Trumps absence.
Its made us all a little crazy, Cornyn said.
Reporting by Tim Reid, James Oliphant, David Morgan and Joseph Ax; writing by Brian Thevenot; editing by Soyoung Kim and Brian Thevenot
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