This is the stark political reality: on Thursday not a single House Republican voted for the resolution formalizing the inquiry into the impeachment of Donald Trump.
Congressman Justin Amash, who left the GOP this year, reminded his colleagues that Trump will only be in power for a short time, “but excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name.” He appealed to Republicans to step out of their media bubbles. “History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous, and false defenses of this man.”
When it came time to vote, not one Republican followed his advice.
The lockstep vote is a reminder of Donald Trump’s extraordinary hold over the GOP and the party’s cult-like unwillingness to break with Trump, despite the mounting evidence of his misconduct. To imagine now that Republicans will somehow show a flash of independence and conscience seems like the triumph of hope over experience.
Sticking by Trump
For the time being, Republicans have decided that sticking with Trump is the safe move, given his solid support among the base. But history’s verdict is unlikely to be kind, and what is about to happen is anything but safe.
A party line vote to exonerate the president irretrievably bonds the GOP to Trump’s conduct, character and ethics, and risks toxifying conservatism for a generation.
Republicans have already abandoned the notion that character matters, jettisoned fiscal conservativism and free markets, and accepted lying as simply the price of doing business with this president. They have watched as constitutional norms have been battered and the rule of law bent to partisan advantage.
Time and again, they have convinced themselves that it was all worth it. But the stakes are about to rise dramatically.