On Jan. 13 the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for the second time, making him the only president of the U.S. to be impeached twice. Given the fact that Donald Trump is no longer in office following the inauguration of now President Joe Biden, the impeachment vote that took place in the Senate was no longer over the removal of the former president from office. More significant than the conviction vote itself would be a following vote that would bar Donald Trump from ever holding future office. Voting to ban Trump from future office may initially seem like a tempting prospect for both Democrats and some Republican lawmakers. Some moderate conservatives looking to gain favor with the establishment and current president may feel it is beneficial to distance themselves from the controversies of the Trump administration, specifically surrounding claims that he is responsible for inciting the breach of the capital.
However, Republicans who might consider looking to separate themselves from President Trump or prevent him from intervening in future politics may find they actually end up alienating themselves from the conservative base. The loyalty shown to President Trump even after his term in office is unlike that shown towards any other former president. A recent HarrisX poll demonstrated that around 64% of registered Republicans would join a political party founded by Donald Trump. While it may initially seem logical for Republicans to simply prevent such a loss in their parties support by barring Trump from future office, the backlash faced by such a decision may be even worse. Besides arguably being undemocratic to tell the American people who they are unable to support, such a decision would only further add to the growing sentiment among conservatives that the Republican party is unwilling to represent their interests.
Republicans are not the only ones who stand to suffer as a result of the upcoming impeachment trial. The Democrats who brought Trump to trial now risk preventing the national unity that new president Joe Biden seems so keen on achieving. Beginning a new president’s term with the trial and conviction of the previous president is not exactly a sign of a stable democracy. Furthermore, the attempt by Democrats to convict Donald Trump may actually work against their agenda. By putting the former president on trial, he will once again be given the national spotlight. Rather than public attention being focused on the Biden administration’s desired reforms, it will instead be centered once again on Donald Trump. Overall, the current impeachment proceeding may actually end up working counter to the interests of both the Democrats and the Republicans who want to see it through.