Of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, the most surprising was South Carolina arch-conservative and knee-jerk Trump-toadie Tom Rice. He seems to have been carried away by patriotism for a moment-- and I bet he regrets it now... but he can't take it back, so he tries to live with it-- no easy thing. His district gave Trump 58.0% of it's vote in 2016 and, after watching him for 4 years in the White House, gave him 58.8% in 2020.
On the surface, Rice looks safe. He outperformed Trump in the district by 3 points both times they were on the ballot together. But next year-- when Trump won't be on the ballot-- Rice may be crushed by him and driven out of politics. In an interview, Rice told Washington Post reporter Marianna Sotomayor that "It was very clear to me, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. I didn’t take an oath to defend Donald Trump. What he did was a frontal assault on the Constitution."
Sotomayor reported that the impeachment vote "threatens to end his career as he faces several potential primary opponents who strongly support the former president [Ken Richardson, state Rep. William Bailey, Graham Allen, Mark McBride and half a dozen others]. And that race will have a broader meaning for his party, serving as a test case for whether a solidly conservative lawmaker, long popular in his district and loyal to the party, can be cast out by GOP voters for the lone sin of crossing Trump... 'If you want a congressman who’s going to choose a personality over the Constitution, I’m not your guy,' he said at an event in Loris after calling Trump a 'bully' in response to a question asking him why he did not vote in line with what a majority of his constituents wanted... What cemented his vote was Trump’s tweet saying that Vice President Mike Pence lacked 'the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution' and instead oversaw the certification of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden. 'To me, that is completely despicable, and I will vote that way every single time. For him to be calling Mike Pence a coward and him sitting at the White House surrounded by Secret Service and tweeting while Mike Pence is in the middle of all that, and he’s a coward? Give me a break,' Rice told a constituent at his Loris event. He added, 'If the president, by force, can intimidate Congress into voting their way, then we might as well do away with Congress and hand it over to a king. What he did in my mind is what dictators do.'"
Will that argument work in Horry County (R+36), where most of SC-07's voters live? I doubt it but I know one place it definitely doesn't work: the congressional Republican Party in DC. Although Rice voted with most Trumpists after the attempted coup, "challenging the election results from Pennsylvania and Arizona despite no evidence of the widespread voter fraud alleged by Trump," and despite being "one of 126 Republicans who backed a Texas lawsuit in December asking the Supreme Court to review and possibly invalidate election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan for changing election laws to make voting more accessible during the coronavirus pandemic, his Republican colleagues have no qualms whatsoever about the current assault on democracy their party is leading.
Reporting for the NY Times this morning, Jonathan Weisman wrote that "After the norm-shattering presidency of Donald J. Trump, the violence-inducing bombast over a stolen election, the pressuring of state vote counters, the Capitol riot and the flood of voter curtailment laws rapidly being enacted in Republican-run states, Washington has found itself in an anguished state. Almost daily, Democrats warn that Republicans are pursuing racist, Jim Crow-inspired voter suppression efforts to disenfranchise tens of millions of citizens, mainly people of color, in a cynical effort to grab power. Metal detectors sit outside the House chamber to prevent lawmakers-- particularly Republicans who have boasted of their intention to carry guns everywhere-- from bringing weaponry to the floor. Democrats regard their Republican colleagues with suspicion, believing that some of them collaborated with the rioters on Jan. 6."
Republican lawmakers have systematically downplayed or dismissed the dangers, with some breezing over the attack on the Capitol as a largely peaceful protest, and many saying the state voting law changes are to restore “integrity” to the process, even as they give credence to Mr. Trump’s false claims of rampant fraud in the 2020 election.
They shrug off Democrats’ warnings of grave danger as the overheated language of politics as usual.
Watch Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), still lying about the well-behaved, jovial tourists who stayed within the rope lines while defecating on the Capitol floor and smearing feces on the walls.
Johnson's progressive opponent, Chris Larson responded on twitter by noting that "After we beat Ron Johnson, he can keep working as spokesperson for the Jan 6th domestic terrorists if he wants to, he just won’t be allowed to pretend he also speaks for Wisconsin while he does it. For the record, Senator Ron Johnson, some people didn’t stay within the rope line," posting a picture of the violent murderous mob breaking into the Capitol and assaulting police.
Weisman noted that although Republicans poo-poo the existential threat to democracy, "For Democrats, the evidence of looming catastrophe mounts daily. Fourteen states, including politically competitive ones like Florida and Georgia, have enacted 22 laws to curtail early and mail-in ballots, limit polling places and empower partisans to police polling, then oversee the vote tally. Others are likely to follow, including Texas, with its huge share of House seats and electoral votes. Because Republicans control the legislatures of many states where the 2020 census will force redistricting, the party is already in a strong position to erase the Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the House. Even moderate voting-law changes could bolster Republicans’ chances for the net gain of one vote they need to take back the Senate. And in the nightmare outcome promulgated by some academics, Republicans have put themselves in a position to dictate the outcome of the 2024 presidential election if the voting is close in swing states. 'Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations,' 188 scholars said in a statement expressing concern about the erosion of democracy."
Republicans don't see it that way at all. In fact, many feel it is the Democrats who are the threat to democracy. Weisman quoted conservative Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey as one of those who have it ass-backwards: "Republicans contend that much of this is overblown, though some concede the charges sting. Toomey, said Democrats were playing a hateful race card to promote voting-rights legislation that is so extreme it would cement Democratic control of Congress for decades. 'I hope that damage isn’t being done,' he added, 'but it is always very dangerous to falsely play the race card and let’s face it, that’s what’s being done here.'"
Some other Republicans embrace the notion that they are trying to use their prerogatives as a minority party to safeguard their own power. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said the endeavor was the essence of America’s system of representative democracy, distinguishing it from direct democracy, where the majority rules and is free to trample the rights of the minority unimpeded.
“The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for,” Mr. Paul said. “The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That’s what you get when a majority ignores the rights of others.”
Democrats and their allies push back hard on those arguments. [Independent Maine Senator Angus] King said the only reason voters lacked confidence in the voting system was that Republicans-- especially Trump-- told them for months that it was rigged, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now continued to insist that there were abuses in the process that must be fixed.
“That’s like pleading for mercy as an orphan after you killed both your parents,” he said.
...Republican leaders have sought to take the current argument from the lofty heights of history to the nitty-gritty of legislation. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, pointed to the success of bipartisan efforts such as passage of a bill to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans, approval of a broad China competition measure and current talks to forge compromises on infrastructure and criminal justice as proof that Democratic catastrophizing over the state of American governance was overblown.
But Democrats are not assuaged.
“Not to diminish the importance of the work we’ve done here, but democracy itself is what we’re talking about,” said Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. “And to point at other bills that don’t have to do with the fair administration of elections is just an attempt to distract while all these state legislatures move systematically toward disenfranchising voters who have historically leaned Democrat.”
King said he had had serious conversations with Republican colleagues about the precarious state of American democracy. Authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban and Adolf Hitler have come to power by election, and stayed in power by warping or obliterating democratic norms.
But, he acknowledged, he has yet to get serious engagement, largely because his colleagues fear the wrath of Trump and his supporters.
“I get the feeling they hope this whole thing will go away,” he said. “They make arguments, but you have the feeling their hearts aren’t in it.”
I don't know... many of their hearts are in it! Take Trump's completely unhinged loud-mouthed fascist daughter-in-law Lara for example. Yesterday she was on Fox News calling for an armed insurrection.