A crisis of identity
As Donald Trump's second impeachment trial gets underway, there is little doubt amongst onlookers and members of Congress themselves that the trial can only end with Trump's acquittal. The Republican party ultimately has chosen a side for itself in this fight that pits their duty to the American Constitution versus their need for Trump and the vote bank he brings to the party. House Minority Leader McCarthy pretty much advertised his position in regards to Trump when he was recently seen at Trump's Mar-a-Lago. Among the few details that have been reported about the meeting was that Trump and McCarthy were discussing how to retake the House in 2022 over a luxurious five-course meal. The luxurious meal in question was worth more than USD 700, a detail that only becomes somewhat relevant when it was revealed that Trump charged the full amount to McCarthy who was forced to bill it under an 'administrative charge'. McCarthy in recent weeks has come under fire from his party due to his perceived lack of will in taking a principled stand on issues. Take for example his stand on the twin issues of holding Majorie Taylor accountable for her support for QAnon conspiracies and punishing Liz Cheney for voting to impeach Trump. Trump and his loyalists were clear on their preferred line of action with Majorie Taylor being cleared of all charges and Cheney being kicked-off the GOP. Yet, McCarthy did not deliver. While he sidelined Taylor from her committee roles without actually condemning her in any sense, he also chooses to not punish Cheney. In doing so he hoped to keep the growing fault lines within the GOP from splitting further apart as the Party goes through an existential crisis. In the short term, he may have succeeded but he has also apparently greatly angered Trump who considered his unwillingness to punish Cheney as being tantamount to betrayal. On the other hand, members of his own Party are also turning on him now for his refusal to take a stand on extremism and conspiracy-mongering within the Republican establishment. Commentators say that McCarthy is playing a very costly, very risky game by working to simply delay the reckoning that the Republicans must go through to decide the future shape of the Party. The ultimate fate of the GOP and its soul searching quest has great bearing for not only this particular impeachment trial but for America itself. After a period of silence and half-hearted condemnation, most of the GOP is now back to its role as a party of apologists for Trump's acts. Most are against his impeachment trial or any attempt to keep Trump out of politics. It is a matter of votes after all and the idea that Donald Trump could turn a substantial part of the GOP voting base against them. Thus, they largely support the Trump legal team assertion that his impeachment is unconstitutional because he has already left office. Much of the GOP rank and file is also in agreement with the Trump legal team over their assertion that Trump cannot be said to have incited any actual violence during the Capitol riots because he was speaking 'figuratively'. While a growing number of legal luminaries have questioned both these assertions, it is not strictly relevant to the matter at hand. This is because it is clear that this is not about establishing the guilt of Donald Trump in any sense for the GOP, it is about survival. While some parts of the Party do indeed want to cut-away the influence of Trump on the Party, few have shown any real willingness to face the possible consequences of doing so. The Democrats understand this and reasonably don't expect this trial to achieve its desired goal of impeaching Trump. What they are aiming for instead is the message that such a trial sends to all Americans and the world at large. After the Capitol riots damaged the dignity of the political process in America, this impeachment is a necessary part of the process of returning to normality for the Democrats. It shows that Congress will not hesitate to hold guilty parties responsible, even if said guilty parties walk away scot-free in the end. In short, scoring a possible acquittal for Trump is not quite the victory as it may seem for the Republicans. It only delays the problem of their confused identity as a Party and will probably make it worse if Donald Trump does indeed intend to come back to the Party in some shape or form.