Will voters in the 2022 midterm elections remember and penalize Trump’s enablers in the Senate? Put another way, will Trump’s Senate trial have an effect on the midterms, whether he is convicted or not? If Trump is convicted, a long shot, the answer could be yes to some extent. Unfortunately, several of Trump’s most shameless Senate enablers, including Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are are not running in 2022. Marco Rubio has announced that he is running for re-election in 2022. He will likely face a high-profile Democratic opponent, since popular Reps. Val Demmings and Gwen Graham and former Rep. David Jolly are reportedly interested in running against him. Rand Paul, another Trump apologist, could run for re-election in 2022. He has supported legislation limiting senators to two terms, which he will have completed by 2022, so he may retire, although nobody ever went broke underestimating the integrity of Republican senators. If there is a wild card, it’s Mitch McConnell who could influence other senators with a strong stand for conviction. But it has to happen very soon. More likely, Democratic Senate prospects in 2022 depend less on Trump’s fate than the course of the pandemic and the economy.
There is not much chance that Trump will be convicted, according to Manu Raju and Alex Rodgers at CNN Politics, who report: “But even after witnessing the deadly violence firsthand, and being reminded of it again at the scene of the crime, many Republican senators appeared no closer on Wednesday to convicting former President Donald Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection.”….While they were struck by the impeachment managers’ presentation, these Republicans said that the House Democrats did not prove Trump’s words led to the violent actions. They compared the January 6 riot to last summer’s racial justice protests and criticized how the trial is being handled….Sen. Lindsey Graham said he couldn’t believe “we could lose the Capitol like that” but added that it didn’t change his mind on whether to acquit Trump during the trial. “I think there’s more votes for acquittal after today than there was yesterday,” the South Carolina Republican said….”I think you get at best six Republicans — probably five and maybe six,” GOP Sen. Tim Scott told CNN when asked if the video and footage changed his mind on convicting Trump. Asked if he considers himself an impartial juror, the South Carolina Republican said: “I think I’m as impartial as the other 99….The six Republicans could be Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — the six Republicans who broke with their party Tuesday to vote that the impeachment trial was constitutional.”
With many rank and file Republicans walking away from their party in disgust, it should be a good time for Libertarians and other third parties to crank up their recruitment efforts. As regards a “Trump-Led third partty,” Geoffrey Skelley calls it “unlikely” at FiveThirtyEight. As Skelley writes, “On the one hand, this political calculation does make some sense. Many Americans (57 percent in 2020, per Gallup) think a third major party is needed. And there is some evidence that if there were more than two parties — for instance, if the Democratic Party and Republican Party each split in two — many Americans would identify with a new party.” However, Skelley notes that “many states have onerous ballot access lawsthat require large numbers of signatures or stringent filing fees. This makes things extra challenging for third parties as they have a harder time raising money, finding volunteers, paying workers and getting enough signatures to qualify to appear on a ballot than their Democratic and Republican counterparts….Voters’ strong attachment to the major parties has also limited the ability of third parties to grow. Although a huge share of voters claim they’re independent, the reality is that roughly nine in 10 Americans identify with one of the two major parties, and, by and large, that’s been the case for decades. Add in the deep divides in our current political environment, and the status quo doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon, especially as the risk of “wasting a vote” on a candidate with little chance of winning could actually help the party a voter dislikes win.”
In terms of formulating long-range strategy, Democrats would do well to heed the warning of Ronald Brownstein, who writes at The Atlantic: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week started running ads tying potentially vulnerable GOP House members to both QAnon’s rising presence and Trump’s role in provoking the riot….Yet most Republicans appear more comfortable weathering those attacks than confronting what McConnell has called the “cancer” of growing extremist influence in the party. Opening the door to radicals like Greene is part of a much larger shift: As I’ve written before, the GOP is morphing into a quasi-authoritarian party—one that’s becoming more willing to undermine democratic norms to maintain power. Its long-term evolution toward any-means-necessary militance is likely to only intensify as the nation’s growing racial and religious diversity, which triggers so many in the party’s base, unspools through the 2020s. This tug toward conspiracy-theory-laden, often-racist extremism “is in the Republican Party DNA,” [author of Rule and Ruin Geoffrey] Kabaservice told me. “If the party isn’t going to forcefully turn against QAnon and the Proud Boys and the neo-Nazis who invaded the Capitol … then that DNA is going to be passed along in an even more virulent form to the next generation of Republicans.”