6 Senate Republicans Vote Trump Trial Constitutional

As expected, the second impeachment trial of the 45th President will proceed.

The Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump kicked off yesterday with a powerful video montage that wouldn’t be allowed in any American courtroom, with a jury pool that would be disqualified from any other trial by virtue of their conflicts of interest. This was followed by every Senate Democrat and six Senate Republicans ruling against Trump lawyers’ motion that trying an official no longer in office violated the Constitution.

WaPo (“Senate votes to pursue Trump impeachment trial after declaring the proceedings constitutional“):

The Senate voted along mostly partisan lines Tuesday to pursue Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, after hours of arguments and the airing of a gripping documentary of the deadly Capitol riot that followed Trump’s inflammatory rally on Jan. 6.

Aided by the graphic 13-minute video that spliced violent images of the Capitol siege with Trump’s rhetoric, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and other impeachment managers delivered an impassioned account of the physical and emotional trauma to lawmakers, police, staffers and local residents. They said there was no “January exception” in the Constitution — meaning that a president couldn’t escape accountability through impeachment just because he had left office before the trial.

“If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing,” Raskin said of Trump’s behavior.

That the events happened or that they were emotionally impactful is not in dispute. The question is whether Trump is guilty of inciting the events. He almost certainly is not under the standards of American law, which affords protections to speech well beyond those in other Western democracies.

But an impeachment trial is not a criminal court. Stunts like a choreographed video splicing out-of-context quotes in for cinematic effect are allowed. Having a jury pool that was personally involved in the incident in question is allowed; indeed, required in this instance. And, ultimately, the standard isn’t whether Trump is guilty of criminal incitement but whether 67 Senators believe his conduct warrants his removal from office or, in this case, his being barred from eligibility to hold federal office in the future.

Yesterday’s vote confirmed what we’ve known all along: there are not. Still, there’s one more than there was last month.

Trump’s lawyers countered that the trial — the first proceeding of its kind for an ex-president — would be unconstitutional because Trump was no longer in office, even if he was impeached by the House before leaving. One of the attorneys acknowledged that the former president lost the election, undercutting one baseless claim that Trump has spread since Nov. 3.

The Senate swiftly voted 56 to 44 against Trump. The proceedings will resume at noon Wednesday.

[…]

That vote was similar to one taken by the Senate last month, in which only five Republicans — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) — voted that an impeachment trial of a former president was constitutional. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) joined them Tuesday in breaking with their party to allow the trial to proceed.

56 votes isn’t 67 and, given that everyone in the body is intimately familiar with the details of the events in question, it’s hard to imagine what new evidence or arguments will get another 11 to switch sides. Indeed, it’s more likely that one or more of the six Republicans who voted that the trial is Constitutional will nonetheless vote to acquit.

It’s possible that some Republican Senators legitimately believe Trump’s actions, while outrageous, don’t rise to the level of impeachable offense because they were protected speech. Most, though, are making a political calculation about how a vote to convict will play with their constituents.

That’s regrettable but par for the course. As noted here many times, before Trump, only two Presidents had been impeached by the House. Not only were both acquitted by the Senate, but not a single Senator from their political party (Democrats, in both instances) voted to convict. Mitt Romney’s Yes vote in Trump’s first impeachment has been the only exception to the rule—and in, fairness, that vote was performative, in that he knew it would not be decisive.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve said before that if there is one thing that repulses me about the modern Republican Party it’s the blatant, in your face lying. “You know I’m lying, and I know you know, all the way down, but I’m still going through with this charade in the most puffed up and faux angry way possible.” This laughable argument that these Republicans have suddenly become thoughtful constitutional scholars is yet another of this type of Republican lie.

    28
  2. SKI says:

    Mitt Romney’s Yes vote in Trump’s first impeachment has been the only exception to the rule—and in, fairness, that vote was performative, in that he knew it would not be decisive.

    The interesting thought experiment is how many of the other Republicans might have voted to convict if their vote had been dispositive. That is, did they vote not to convict because they knew they knew that there weren’t enough colleagues who would vote to convict and doing so would expose them to intra-party enmity without a tangible result?*

    Similarly, how many would vote to convict if it was a secret ballot?

    ____________
    * I think there would be a tangible value of voting top convict even if there were too many craven Republicans to actually convict due to institutional integrity and history but many folks would measure based solely on whether Trump was removed or barred.

    4
  3. I really wish we would stop talking at all like this process is a “trial” and that the Senators are “jurors.” It is just the wrong frame and language. It also leads to discussions of legal standards that are irrelevant.

    29
  4. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: While there’s doubtless hypocrisy and disingenuousness here, there was serious debate among serious Constitutional scholars well before January 6 on whether impeachment for former officials is permissible.

    @SKI: Yes, it’s really unknowable. Given that impeachment is a political process—and a quasi-legal one, at that—I oppose secret votes. The people have a right to know how their representatives vote.

    @Steven L. Taylor: We’re in basic agreement but Article II provides “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments…[but] no person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.” Further, when a sitting President is being “tried,” the Chief Justice presides. And, of course, Article I speaks of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So, the Framers couched it as a criminal trial, even though it was never really that.

    1
  5. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve said before that if there is one thing that repulses me about the modern Republican Party it’s the blatant, in your face lying.

    I had to quit watching the Sunday shows, and then eventually all video news, because anytime they’re playing video of Republicans the Republicans are telling stupid, stupid lies. Can’t stand to hear it.

    “This case is really about religious freedom.”
    “Scientists just don’t have conclusive evidence of global warming.”
    “We’re just trying to Teach the Controversy.”
    “If we want to supercharge the economy there’s no better way than to give tax cuts to the job creators.”

    10
  6. Jax says:

    It really bothers me that there are so many lawmakers not willing to vote to convict if the vote is public because they fear for their lives due to the same types of people who stormed the Capitol. We are being held hostage by terrorists, right out in the open.

    12
  7. @James Joyner:

    So, the Framers couched it as a criminal trial, even though it was never really that.

    I totally get that, which makes some of this impossible to avoid. But by the same token, it is still incorrect to talk about it like it is a court proceeding. To point out (and I am not picking on you) that Trump would almost certainly not be convicted in a court of law is just immaterial.

    It is manifestly obvious that the Senate jurors are not the same as those in a court of law, even though the language is the same.

    A field goal in basketball and a field goal in football isn’t the same thing and it would be ridiculous for Joe Buck to intone with great seriousness about how the Bucs FG should count only for 2 points if it is within a certain distance or that it can be accomplished by throwing the ball. Or to talk about how in soccer a kick between two poles is only worth one point as if it has anything to do with American football.

    And yet, lawyers and other commentators are doing it all over TV about this process.

    11
  8. @Jax: I think mostly they fear for their primary competition and votes more than anything else (plus, a lot of them are captured by the same media environment as their followers).

    5
  9. Kathy says:

    I suppose impeachment “trials” work more like real trials when the person impeached is not a president. We can even check,a s there have been several impeachments of judges and administration officials over the centuries.

    Not every country has a mechanism for removing the chief of the executive, or the person at the top, but many do. It’s not easy in any of them, but it’s not impossible in most of them.

    I would like to say that a different time Trump would have been removed from office even before the first impeachment charge, but the truth is in a different time Trump would never have been elected in the first place.

    4
  10. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    there was serious debate among serious Constitutional scholars well before January 6 on whether impeachment for former officials is permissible

    Sure. But I don’t believe there is a single Senator who carefully weighed those arguments and decided that they would have to vote to acquit Trump because of their vast experience in Constitutional law. It is a sham excuse and everyone who pays attention to these things knows that, and they know we know that.

    5
  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: And of course, “This is only about the health of the mother.”

    3
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think mostly they fear for their primary competition and votes more than anything else

    It may be the main consideration but I wouldn’t discount the fear for their lives. Republicans have fetishized guns for so long and accepted any level of armament as “normal” that they frequently fined themselves around well armed people with anger management issues. They have to be thinking that one of these gun nuts may opt for the famous 2nd Amendment Solution. And if you were courageous and willing to take a risk for your principles you wouldn’t be a Republican Congress Critter.

    2
  13. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: They just arrested a guy who was threatening Mitch McConnell’s grandkids. A legislator from Pennsylvania said right out in the open that she voted the way she did because if she didn’t, her house would’ve been blown up. Primary votes are part of it, but let’s also acknowledge the “personal safety” factor. I am in favor of secret votes if it allows us to excise the cancer that is Trump.

    7
  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    No, Trump will not be “convicted”. My hope is that more than just Romney votes against Trump in the end…ultimately meaningless, but important symbolically.
    I hope that all of you who have been slow to figure this out will now understand that Republicans have been lying about all of their principled stands, FOREVER!!!
    Confronted with a bloody coup attempt, 44 Republicans are willing to just look the other way. As Mike Lee (Q-CO) said; just give him a mulligan.
    They are not Conservative. They do not believe in the Constitution. They are certainly not originalists, or textualists. They do not believe in personal responsibility or accountability. They are immoral. They are corrupt. And they are weak.
    But her emails…

    18
  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    Politico is speculating that Moscow Mitch may vote to impeach and that he’s passed the word that this is personal conscious vote. Knowing that McConnell would like to have the party be rid of Trump, makes that plausible. If he did, then it would provide cover for others, but still short of conviction.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The idea that 17 Republicans would stand up to an armed mob is not even worth considering. I will be surprised if the 6 who agreed to the constitutionality of the process convict.

    5
  17. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    high crimes and misdemeanors

    I agree with you it’s ok to call this a trial but:

    as I understand it “high crimes and misdemeanors” was a four word phrase with a specific meaning from English politics, it was a way of saying misconduct by a government official, but not necessarily violation of a criminal code.

    1
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    They are immoral. They are corrupt. And they are weak.

    Yes, but you’ve heard the loud clamor from all the ‘good Republicans,’ denouncing the coup attempt. Right? No? Me neither.

    The friends and neighbors and co-workers we’d like to imagine are fundamentally decent people, are staying mum in the face of a fascist coup attempt. These same people – friends, neighbors and co-workers – would turn a blind eye if Democrats were arrested, imprisoned, tortured… We don’t want to believe it, but it’s true.

    Good people on both sides, dontcha know.

    22
  19. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    These votes may seem like a good idea now to them, but I predict they will eventually be worn like an albatross.

    By (imperfect) analogy, the AUMF vote for the Iraq war seemed a good idea once, but later on not so much, just ask Hillary Clinton.

    2
  20. charon says:

    @charon:

    Along that line, I think Liz Cheney is taking the long view and playing it smarter than she is being given credit for.

    7
  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @charon:

    Agree. Cotton and Sasse are 2 others who are looking beyond the next couple of years, though how they vote re: impeachment will matter.

    5
  22. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve said before, I used to wonder ‘what happened to the German people in the 30s and 40s, how did they go so malevolent and insane?’ I don’t wonder that anymore.

    The Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia, Bangladesh, Assyria, Serbia, the Congo, East Timor, the Tamils…don’t say It Can’t Happen Here.

    14
  23. charon says:

    @Jax:

    They just arrested a guy who was threatening Mitch McConnell’s grandkids. A legislator from Pennsylvania said right out in the open that she voted the way she did because if she didn’t, her house would’ve been blown up. Primary votes are part of it, but let’s also acknowledge the “personal safety” factor.

    AOC and Ilhan Omar get lots of death threats, they have not shut up.

    14
  24. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yes, but you’ve heard the loud clamor from all the ‘good Republicans,’ denouncing the coup attempt. Right? No? Me neither.

    Do you count those who condemn it but also claim it was Antifa and BLM?

    2
  25. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Yes, but you’ve heard the loud clamor from all the ‘good Republicans,’ denouncing the coup attempt. Right? No? Me neither.”

    Sure, but you can’t really blame them. They’re all too busy sincerely worrying about the deficit.

    15
  26. MarkedMan says:

    @charon: The corruption will start coming out, especially pandemic related corruption. 7K ventilators were shipped to the UAE (? Saudi Arabia?) in the early days when there was a severe shortage. As many as twenty million vaccines are unaccounted for. The feds were seizing State purchases of PPE and sending it… where?

    And of course there will be many, many instances of non-pandemic corruption and the money will be traced back to Trump, his family and members of his inner circle. The Republican dodge of “but it was only because of my constitutional concerns” won’t fly.

    7
  27. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Please note that the claims that it was Antifa and BLM only started after the Trumpkins began getting arrested.

    Prior to that, they were boasting about what they’d done.

    6
  28. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Alternate title: 44 Senate Republicans Vote For The End of Democracy, As Long As Their Guy Is The Autocrat

    10
  29. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: All the more reason to fight like heck at the State level to eliminate closed primaries or primaries all together for instant runoff type elections.

    2
  30. Jax says:

    @charon: Those two women have more courage in their little fingers than the entirety of the Republican critters currently squatting in Congress.

    7
  31. CSK says:

    The Trumpkins seem bewildered that Trump can’t attract halfway decent legal help, nor halfway decent any kind of help, for that matter. Why does he rely so much on backstabbers and incompetents and traitors, they wonder.

    4
  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Politico is speculating that Moscow Mitch may vote to impeach…

    I’ll believe THAT when I see it. 🙁

    5
  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: The deficit their leaders added $7 trillion dollars to? That one?

    2
  34. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Politico is simply doing what they do…Bothsiderism…a cancer on this nation.

    4
  35. Pylon says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s ridiculous that Senators get to determine constitutionality of the proceeding. I think it’s possible for the Senate to set an impeachment trial rule that sets such legal questions before SCOTUS and then they live with that question.

    But in any event, now that they voted, the issue should be dead. In other words, the Senators that voted that it was unconstitutional should now have to accept that it is, and only decide on the merits.

    2
  36. CSK says:

    If Trump is watching the proceedings today, he must be on the verge of a stroke.

    I was very impressed by Joe Neguse’s presentation.

    3
  37. charon says:

    @Pylon:

    I think it’s possible for the Senate to set an impeachment trial rule that sets such legal questions before SCOTUS and then they live with that question

    Unlikely, there is previous precedent from SCOTUS that impeachment is non-judiciable, SCOTUS does not want to get involved.

    1
  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Much ado about nothing.

    1
  39. flat earth luddite says:

    And in further news from the edge, provided courtesy of The Bulwark:

    One of those six was Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, who had the temerity to change his position. Cassidy, it turned out, actually listened to both sides and was willing to say out loud that one side made a convincing argument while the other side rambled and made threats.

    For his trouble, a couple hours after the vote Cassidy was rebuked by the Louisiana state GOP.

    The Republican Party of Louisiana is profoundly disappointed by Senator Bill Cassidy’s vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial now underway against former President, now private citizen, Donald J. Trump. We feel that an impeachment trial of a private citizen is not only an unconstitutional act, but also an attack on the very foundation of American democracy, which will have far reaching and unforeseen consequences for our republic.

    We also remind all Americans that former President Trump is innocent of the politically motivated, bogus charges now pending against him in a kangaroo court presided over by an openly hostile political opponent. How far justice has fallen in the short time that Democrats have been in control of the federal government!

    We salute Senator John Kennedy for remaining steadfast in his opposition to the fake impeachment trial now underway in Washington, DC. Senator Kennedy has clearly made the right decision once again.

    Congratulations on your brief career as a Senator from Louisiana, Mr. Cassidy. I’m sure the feathers have been gathered, and the tar’s a-bubblin.

    4
  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:

    I’ve said before, I used to wonder ‘what happened to the German people in the 30s and 40s, how did they go so malevolent and insane?’ I don’t wonder that anymore.

    The Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia, Bangladesh, Assyria, Serbia, the Congo, East Timor, the Tamils…don’t say It Can’t Happen Here.

    74 million Americans voted for a racist, a criminal, a pathological liar, a fascist. Knowing he was all of those things. This wasn’t 2016 where Republicans could pretend they thought he’d grow in office. They knew he was a monster and they voted for that monster, and if they were repentant we’d be seeing Republicans supporting impeachment.

    Republicans are enemies of freedom and democracy, traitors to everything this country is supposed to stand for. They were not forced by the two-party system, they are bad people, haters, racists, anti-semites, thugs, creeps. They chose evil. They are continuing to choose evil.

    10
  41. EddieInCA says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    While I laud Mr. Cassidy, it’s important to note that he was just re-elected a few months ago. His term doesn’t end until 2026. Trump will be long forgotten by then, should he choose to run again. Additionally, by 2026, Trump might be bankrupt and/or disgraced and/or in jail, which would make his votes in the impeachment a positive, rather than a negative.

    3
  42. EddieInCA says:

    I usually find any goverment hearings boring as hell, but I have to give the Dem Managers a whole bunch of credit. As Michael and WR can attest, it’s hard to create a good narrative or story. It’s hard. Yet these guys are weaving a compelling narrative, using words, video, stills, tweets, and interviews to make the points. It’s good. It’s darn good storytelling that has the added benefit of being completely true.

    10
  43. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Some of them seem to have convinced themselves that Trump is not, in fact, a racist, a criminal, a pathological liar, and a fascist, but rather an exemplary leader and all-around fine human being. It’s an alternate reality.

    2
  44. @Michael Reynolds: And if, in fact, Good and Evil were on the ballot, and 74 million consciously and affirmatively voted for Evil, then the country is done and all this conversation about politics (and, really, much of anything else) is pointless.

    Truly. Pointless.

    5
  45. Loviatar says:

    The friends and neighbors and co-workers we’d like to imagine are fundamentally decent people, are staying mum in the face of a fascist coup attempt. These same people – friends, neighbors and co-workers – would turn a blind eye if Democrats were arrested, imprisoned, tortured… We don’t want to believe it, but it’s true.

    hah

    —–

    I’ve said before, I used to wonder ‘what happened to the German people in the 30s and 40s, how did they go so malevolent and insane?’ I don’t wonder that anymore.

    hah, hah

    —–

    They chose evil. They are continuing to choose evil.

    hah, hah, hah

  46. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Dr. Taylor – I have a question for you. I don’t intend it snarky, nor as a “gotcha”. Genuinely curious as to your perspective.

    74 million voted for Trump.

    Of that 74 Millions, is there a percentage that you would say are too far gone to ever get back to the. mainstream, or is your position that no one is ever irredeemable?

    Because looking at the MAGA people I know, I want nothing to do with them. At all. I can’t find a decent one in the bunch. That’s just a personal anecdote and has more to do with my own personal bubble than anything else, but I’m curious to your position.

    8
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And if, in fact, Good and Evil were on the ballot, and 74 million consciously and affirmatively voted for Evil, then the country is done and all this conversation about politics (and, really, much of anything else) is pointless.

    Well, then strap in, because yes, 74 million Americans chose evil. Knowingly, deliberately, with all the evidence in front of them they voted for an evil man.

    I understand why people don’t want to accept the truth. It’s frightening. But the response to evil cannot be denial or cowardice. We need truth.

    And no, this does not mean the country is finished. This country has voted for evil more than once, at the local, state and national level. Jim Crow being the obvious example. And this today is a continuation of that same evil, the core, foundational evil of this country built on genocide, ethnic cleansing, imperial conquest and slavery. Did you think evil disappeared at some point? Did you assume that evil wouldn’t be sitting in the faculty meeting across from you? Or is it that you think evil requires mustache-twirling villains?

    This is the banality of evil, the ordinariness of evil – the guy in the office next door. The family member. The friend. It’s a very uncomfortable truth, but it is the truth.

    The way ahead gets easier if we look at reality and accept it. We don’t get there by pretending. And we don’t get there by throwing up our hands and saying, ‘well, all is lost!’

    5
  48. @EddieInCA: I think this is a fair question, and I don;t have an immediate good answer.

    My argument with MR on this topic is that his presentation is just grossly simplistic (to, in my opinion, the point of being cartoonish).

    If we really were in a situation in which 74 million were voting, consciously and purposefully for a fascist, we would be in a real civil war right now,

    And I say that as somehow has written that Trump, while not a full-blown fascist in my estimation, has acted and spoken in a fascistic manner.

    I think that GOP deserves substantive criticism–indeed, I have been unrelentingly critical.

    All this doesn’t change the fact that, for a host of reasons, most Trump voters are satisficing when they vote R. Now, some are voting for the crazy, for the Q, and even for the facsism. Most are making what they think is a reasonable choice between R and D for a long list of ranked-ordered reasons.

    2
  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Yes, and Wehrmacht soldiers shooting Jews beside a ditch the condemned were forced to dig, told themselves stories as well. There are always rationales. There are always excuses.

    2
  50. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    To paraphrase Joan Didion, they tell themselves stories in order to live.

    7
  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    FFS Steven. Of course no one says “I’m gonna vote for evil!” And yet, people do vote for evil. Or don’t you accept even that? Do you accept the reality of evil at all?

    You’re making excuses for people making evil choices because facing the truth is inconvenient for your theories. If this was Germany 1938 you’d be making excuses for Nazis and sneering that Jews were being simplistic to the point of being cartoonish. I mean, if half of Germans are evil, well, I guess we’re screwed, but whaddya gonna do?

    I believe you are being morally obtuse, professor. You’re so deep in your academic discipline that you’ve lost touch with reality.

  52. @Michael Reynolds:

    I understand why people don’t want to accept the truth.

    No, Michael, people like me are in the business of truth, and of dispassionate analysis, which includes having to try and understand people we don’t agree with.

    People like me can’t traffic in simplistic, sweeping statements and then pretend like we have discovered truth.

    I wish it was that easy.

    5
  53. @Michael Reynolds:

    FFS Steven. Of course no one says “I’m gonna vote for evil!”

    FFS, Michael, you said:

    74 million Americans voted for a racist, a criminal, a pathological liar, a fascist. Knowing he was all of those things.

    3
  54. @Michael Reynolds:

    You’re making excuses for people making evil choices because facing the truth is inconvenient for your theories. If this was Germany 1938 you’d be making excuses for Nazis and sneering that Jews were being simplistic to the point of being cartoonish. I mean, if half of Germans are evil, well, I guess we’re screwed, but whaddya gonna do?

    We are done, Michael. I am refraining from saying what I want to say out of anger.

    But we are done.

    2
  55. @Michael Reynolds: And since you consider me the moral equivalent of a Nazi apologist, I am assuming you are done with me.

    2
  56. EddieInCA says:
  57. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    All this doesn’t change the fact that, for a host of reasons, most Trump voters are satisficing when they vote R. Now, some are voting for the crazy, for the Q, and even for the facsism. Most are making what they think is a reasonable choice between R and D for a long list of ranked-ordered reasons.

    Here is where I have a serious issue with you analysis. If someone is choosing not to vote for a Democrat because they believe that person is a cannibal pedophile, that person needs to be called out, not “understood”. I’m sick of people telling me I have to try to understand people that are crazy. We aren’t talking about two sides of a policy debate. We’re talking about intentional, pervasive and unrelenting misinformation being put on equal footing with facts and logic. And I come down on the side that 74 people voted for evil, but I give a not insignificant number of them a pass because I know why they voted how they voted. The Cubans and Venezuelans from South Florida were fed bullshit about socialism so they voted for Trump. That I get. It’s bullshit, but it’s understandable. The others… short of this… I don’t get, and I never will.

    Trump showed us who he was. Repeatedly.

    Why is it so easy for you to change your mind about Trump, while giving a pass to so many who didn’t and won’t?

    I don’t get it.

    4
  58. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    While I laud Mr. Cassidy, it’s important to note that he was just re-elected a few months ago. His term doesn’t end until 2026. Trump will be long forgotten by then, should he choose to run again.

    If I counted right there are 20 GOP senators not up for reelection until 2026. Collins, and Sasse are also in this position. Romney is up in 2024, but he’s got that odd Utah Mormon base that makes him pretty safe, and he may be planning to run for prez again anyway. Murkowski and Toomey are up in ’22. Unless they have other plans, they may be taking a big chance. You’d think the other 17 senators up in 2026 would be tempted to do the right thing, more than enough to convict. But I’m not expecting much Profiles in Courage, from them.

    1
  59. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    his presentation is just grossly simplistic (to, in my opinion, the point of being cartoonish)

    While I have some problems with the way he is making his case, I don’t think this is fair. He is being simplistic, but only because there is no practical difference between 60M people mindlessly falling into step with 14M people who embrace evil, and all 74M embracing it, at least no different in outcome. And I think that’s where we are at.

    The Nazi analogy is completely apt in this case. Were most Germans rabid Jew Haters, who also wanted to personally kill the Romani and those with birth defects or diminished metal capacity or homosexuals? Of course not. The vast majority of Germans were everyday ordinary people who didn’t think much about anything and simply got swept up. That can be said about the vast majority of any group. What difference does it make to the victims? Does it matter whether the person who turned Ann Frank in was a rabid Jew Hater or merely a schlump going along with the flow?

    4
  60. @EddieInCA:

    If someone is choosing not to vote for a Democrat because they believe that person is a cannibal pedophile, that person needs to be called out, not “understood”.

    I am not asking for that.

    If we want to break down various points of view and motivations, fine.

    But that is different than explaining the votes of 74 million people.

    How about this: a lot of people think that the Democrats are evil because they support abortion rights. And so, they vote Republican because they think they are protecting innocent babies. We can debate that issue, and some will dismiss it out of hand, but those beliefs are real.

    There are people who believe that pro-business policies (e.g., taxes and regulations) are best for the country. We can debate that issue, and some will dismiss it out of hand, but those beliefs are real.

    There were Trump voters who think that he was responsible for the pre-Covid DJIA average and unemployment rate and give him credit for not getting us into a new war and for “putting America first.” We can debate that issue, and some will dismiss it out of hand, but those beliefs are real.

    They didn’t all vote for Trump because they believe Q or because they wanted a fascist.

    And when I say “understand” I don’t mean empathizing. I mean comprehending.

    Despite what some might think, comprehension is necessary to combat the problem. Just simplistically declaring the problem solves nothing. I would like to think that any regular reader would understand where I am coming from on this.

    11
  61. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: All of the above is correct.

    That said, it is also correct that, whatever their rationale for preferring GOP over Dem, they chose to vote for the racist wanna-be fascist. And that says that they don’t care about bigotry or democracy. Those aren’t deal-breakers for them and that reality is a deal-breaker for many of us.

    4
  62. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    You know, Steven, I have been endlessly polite with you. The snark and the insults have all come from you, aimed at me. I have repeatedly said I admire your erudition, and respect your profession. In return I get insults.

    But if we are done, then I’ll add one more impolite thing: you, a Southern white man, a political scientist, supported a party that relied on racist votes to win. Fact. You knew with each Republican vote you were rewarding the Southern Strategy. Fact. You justify this vote for racism by pointing helplessly at the two party system. What choice did you have? Right? Because the other party, Democrats were. . . well, why don’t you tell me what it was about Democrats that left you with no alternative but to vote for the party of Strom Thurmond, et al? Was it the marginal tax rates?

    So of course you want to talk systems and talk about objective analysis. The alternative is acknowledging that you contributed to this catastrophe. God knows no academic is capable of ever admitting error or personal responsibility. Gotta maintain that authoritah. Which is not objective, and is not analysis. It’s not science or truth.

    4
  63. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: But I do think its fair to say Competence vs Incompetence was on the ballot no?

    I’d take a trip with a competent driver to Burger King vs a trip to my preferred McDonalds with an incompetent driver any day of the week. That 74 million people decided Burger King was so detestable that they’d rather change a ride with a blind driver to McDonalds clearly shows more than politics is at play.

    4
  64. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Sure, there were people who prioritized some other thing they believe (or at least think they believe) and voted for Trump because of those issues. But virtually all of them did so despite knowing who Trump was and what he was doing. They may have gone out of their way not to know, or pretended to themselves that they didn’t know – but they knew.

    Simply put, voting for someone you know will be committing evil acts because they will give you something else you want may be different from voting for that person because of the evil acts themselves. But it is not functionally different

    7
  65. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA: For whatever it’s worth, most of the Trumpies I’ve known are otherwise good people. Many were fairly intelligent, but not well educated or well informed. They’ve just gone down the FOX rabbit hole and I have no idea how they’re ever going to get out. They’re right to believe that “the establishment” has kind of screwed them over, they’re just very confused about who the establishment is and how to deal with it.

    I tend to reserve my contempt for the educated professional Trump voters, country club GOPs. They should know better, but as long as GOPs promise to cut their taxes, they’re good with all the rest of it. And a surprising number of them, apparently out of tribal loyalty, have also gone right down the FOX rabbit hole.

    6
  66. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Thank you. I do comprehend that. I still have issues with it, but I do comprehend it.

    I appreciate your response.

    4
  67. Barry says:

    @EddieInCA: “Of that 74 Millions, is there a percentage that you would say are too far gone to ever get back to the. mainstream, or is your position that no one is ever irredeemable?”

    I would put it as that 74 million looked at Trump and said ‘More!!!!!!!!!!!’. Now, many of them might peel off, so to speak, but the drop vs evil curve is bad.

    1
  68. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08: One thing I’ve learned over my life is that evil is often banal. (I really should look up the context of that quote. I may be badly misusing it.) Most people will accept whatever is easiest or whatever they are used to. In the US most people we meet are good at faking morality, and understand what things they need to say in order to be seen as moral. I’ll go a step farther: they are good at understanding what things they need in order to fool themselves.

    I try not to kid myself. Millions were born into the slave holding South and we modern day people want to believe that if we were born then we would have despised slavery and worked against it if we were white, and rebelled, killed the slavers and escaped if we were black. I would like to believe that about myself, but I have to accept that the vast majority of the people, black or white, did not rebel against the system. How can I be certain I would be one of the few?

    3
  69. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: As a person that has been in the seat of having to try and solve problems with people that are ideologically driven. I can confidently say that value of comprehension in devising a solution is directly related to the actions one can take wrt to implementing an action plan.

    There really isn’t anything to be done with most of why those 74 million people will not choose a Democrat UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (save the Roy Moore case of a proven pedophile.)

    Abortion is murder– nothing can change the mind of people that believe that (despite the fact that Donald Trump was President when x millions of fetus’ were aborted during his Term–making him MORE culpable than Biden)

    Tax cuts raise more revenue-the facts are the facts but these people still believe otherwise

    Trump boosted the DJIA-sure by raising the deficit. The other shoe always drops and the bill comes due.

    Short of Republican leadership and Rupert Murdock deciding the status quo is bad for business–there is nothing to be done with our comprehension of why 74 million voted for Trump–which makes its value very low.

    The best case in my estimation is a “cold war” of sorts where you are clear that if we can handle our schism professionally or we can get off into (as Snoop would say) some Gangsta shit. I was unaware with how prevalent this people were for public executions of political opponent. Im seen Trumpies I work with using this language in FB posts. Democrats are not in the drivers seat for solving the root of this problem, which is massive disinformation fostered on the public by shadow monied elites who have no problem with an American Caste system. Their only play is to make their Goons understand that hard ball will be met with hardball.

    Im less angry on the 74mil as Reynolds because I understand a significant percentage of the population is susceptible to mind control techniques and their social neighbors will go along with for the ride. But that doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice myself to the mob because it (mostly) isn’t their fault. Mutually assured destruction has a way of making people rethink their actions. Dems can’t make these people think different–but they can increase the price of violent and anti-democratic behavior.

    6
  70. Kathy says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that few average white people were much affected by Trump’s actions. Those had no incentive to switch candidates. We kept telling them the sky is falling (with justification), and they didn’t see it. Things like breaking norms and such would feel highly abstract to most.

    Ignorance and stupidity explains some of the rest. For instance, farmers and others in the Midwest who were affected by the loss of soy bean sales to China. Many admitted it. But Trump told them this was necessary to put China in its place (or whatever), and they were winning. And I won’t even speculate how many millions believe to this day China was paying the tariffs that US companies and consumers paid.

    But were they not repelled by Trump personally and many of his policy actions, like caging children and tearing them off their families? Perhaps some were. Most would have been eager to explain things away. That’s not hard given the intrinsic racism in America. I read of one pundit saying that immigrant parents coached their children to wail and cry when they were separated. How many people do you figure believe that? All too many. When you see other people as merely “other” rather than people, you can believe such claims.

    I think few voted innocently for Trump in 2020. But not that many were behind the authoritarianism and conspiracies. And yet, see how many Republican voters believe the election was stolen. That’s a big percentage, and what hope is there for them?

    2
  71. DrDaveT says:

    @charon:

    as I understand it “high crimes and misdemeanors” was a four word phrase with a specific meaning from English politics

    I don’t think so. From Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983):

    The basis for impeachment in the U. S. Constitution. Opinions differ as to the exact meaning of the phrase. It may include felonies; it may include offenses against the U. S. that have serious governmental or political consequences; or it may be whatever the U. S. Congress decides it is.

    The free online version of Black’s gives an additional citation:

    High crimes and misdemeanors are such immoral and unlawful acts as are nearly allied and equal in guilt to felony, yet, owing to some technical circumstance, do not fall within the definition of “felony.” State v. Knapp, 6 Conn. 417, 16 Am. Dec. 68.

  72. Teve says:

    I used to work with this guy named Charlie. One day I was in the break room at work and me and another Democrat were discussing something, and Charlie, who was a nice sweet guy, was sincerely confused and said “wait a minute… you don’t think Obama is trying to destroy America from the inside?” Turns out when Charlie wasn’t at work he was watching Fox News all day. After years of that poison Charlie didn’t see Barack Obama anymore, he saw a Muslim with forged papers and a heart full of hate who wanted nothing more than to Get Whitey.

    That’s why I said for a while now that I have no particular expectation that America will survive right-wing media.

    11
  73. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    God knows no academic is capable of ever admitting error or personal responsibility.

    That’s not true. Hang out with some physicists sometime. While they are imperfect like all humans, there is a culture of straight up admitting when you’re wrong, because if you’re wrong and you refuse to admit it you’re seen as someone who can’t face the truth. And that’s far worse than being wrong.

    4
  74. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: Wikipedia:

    “ [edit]
    Arendt’s book introduced the expression and concept of the banality of evil.[7] Her thesis is that Eichmann was actually not a fanatic or a sociopath, but instead an extremely average and mundane person who relied on clichéd defenses rather than thinking for himself, was motivated by professional promotion rather than ideology, and believed in success which he considered the chief standard of “good society”.[8] Banality, in this sense, does not mean that Eichmann’s actions were in any way ordinary, or even that there is a potential Eichmann in all of us, but that his actions were motivated by a sort of complacency which was wholly unexceptional.[9] Many mid-20th century pundits were favorable to the concept.[10][11]”

    4
  75. Loviatar says:

    removed

    @Teve already posted information

  76. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    There seems to be a group here who are determined to claim that ~74 million Americans are simply evil, or ok with evil, or simply HAD to know about the evil but voted on some other issues, or some other variant of the claim. This is followed by a strident conclusion that they are irredeemable. So what do you suggest for dealing with them besides condemnation? Because I cannot think of a single example of righteously preaching at anyone about how wrong they are that has actually changed any minds, ever.

    I do not think Stephen is asking anyone to excuse, apologize, or even accept the point of view of those 74 million. He is saying (I think) that there are *74* million of them. Almost half the voting population. So as pleasant as it is in our superiority to condemn them, how do we shrink that number? And if you’re not in favor of secession or concentration camps (and hell, to go 100% Godwin, even Hitler only managed to round up ~ 6 million), you bigger figure out how to talk to them. Where framing them as hopelessly evil is counter-productive, at best. And/or you need to figure out how to counter them with some sort of reforms in our systems and/or media environment. Where pissing off allies who agree with you on almost everything because they don’t meet your personal standard of contrition and public self-flagellation for actions taken years ago is remarkably arrogant and foolish.

    8
  77. Kingdaddy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But if we are done, then I’ll add one more impolite thing: you, a Southern white man, a political scientist, supported a party that relied on racist votes to win. Fact. You knew with each Republican vote you were rewarding the Southern Strategy. Fact. You justify this vote for racism by pointing helplessly at the two party system. What choice did you have? Right? Because the other party, Democrats were. . . well, why don’t you tell me what it was about Democrats that left you with no alternative but to vote for the party of Strom Thurmond, et al? Was it the marginal tax rates?

    Steven has already discussed elsewhere how his political views changed over time. That’s a journey we want many people to be able to take, without being denounced by modern Savanarolas or Robespierres for not immediately seeing the bright contours of Truth and Good as clearly as they do. Nor does demanding that people perform some unspecified public contrition raise the odds that they will make that journey.

    So of course you want to talk systems and talk about objective analysis. The alternative is acknowledging that you contributed to this catastrophe. God knows no academic is capable of ever admitting error or personal responsibility. Gotta maintain that authoritah. Which is not objective, and is not analysis. It’s not science or truth.

    Unless you think that political decisions are only the result of having a good or a wicked heart, systems and objective analysis are the paths to better moral outcomes. How do societies get into these situations? How do seemingly good people support depraved ideas or leaders? What gets them to abandon that hate? Are norms or institutions more effective preventive measures? That is political science, and history, for that matter. We’ve spent almost 100 years trying to understand the rise of Nazism. Are you saying that research is worthless? Should the historian who wrote Ordinary Men, a study of the Einsatzgruppen, just have written a didactic novel instead?

    Your whole position is an ad hominem argument, against Steven’s moral choices, against his career as a political scientist, against his role as an author and moderator of this blog. Are you surprised that he hasn’t responded to you with Buddha-like serenity? Statements like, “Gotta maintain that authoritah,” are snarky, condescending, and presumptuous. And again, they’re also counterproductive, unless your path to your definition of political and moral rectitude is a straight, uncompromising journey from shaming to confessing.

    Where do you draw the line in your campaign for contrition? To go back to Nazi Germany, the active supporters are the easy targets. How about the people who originally thought Hitler had some good ideas, but didn’t agree with everything that defined Nazism? How about the people who tolerated the Nazis, but didn’t agree with them at all? Or the people who hated the Nazis, but didn’t see a way to actively oppose a murderous totalitarian regime? Short of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was everyone to blame?

    And what’s the end game? If you got every single Trump supporter to break down and plead for forgiveness, then what?

    You want something from Steven that he doesn’t owe you. If he regrets his earlier decisions, and now is helping other people, in his capacity as an educator, understand how combinations of bad choices and particular circumstances lead to disastrous outcomes, that’s pretty valuable. Good societies don’t depend on everyone having saintly virtues — nor should they. Nor does whacking people with a rhetorical steel ruler bring out saintly virtues.

    27
  78. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    Arendt’s book introduced the expression and concept of the banality of evil.

    It also made another point that couldn’t be more relevant today:

    The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.

    5
  79. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: Thanks. That’s how I was interpreting it so I must have read it somewhere before.

    1
  80. DrDaveT says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    I do not think Stephen is asking anyone to excuse, apologize, or even accept the point of view of those 74 million. He is saying (I think) that there are *74* million of them. Almost half the voting population. So as pleasant as it is in our superiority to condemn them, how do we shrink that number?

    I do not wish to put words in Dr. Taylor’s mouth, but that’s not how I interpret his objections to Michael Reynolds’ thesis. I read Dr. Taylor as denying that 74 million people knowingly voted for evil. I can’t tell whether he means “evil” here in some objective sense, or whether he only means the weaker thesis that they didn’t think of themselves as promoting evil over good, or perhaps the still weaker thesis that good and evil are subjective.

    Personally, I think it’s useful to distinguish those voters who were deluded regarding the facts from those people who voted for Trump despite having a good grasp of actual reality. As noted above, those two diseases have very different epidemiology and very different treatments. I’m not so sure that it’s useful to distinguish people who think white supremacy is a positive good from those who are OK with a white supremacist agenda if it comes with lower taxes or more coal mining jobs.

    6
  81. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    Hang out with some physicists sometime.

    This reminds me of my biggest gripes against the anti-science crowd. They seem to believe that scientists are invested in their version of reality and will lie and cheat in order to keep it protected. The truth is that showing there is something wrong with a well accepted scientific consensus and legitimately defending that against all comers is one of the ways you end up with a Nobel prize. The anti-science people are essentially saying that googling around on crackpot sites and then coming up with something that sounds good to your buddy at the bar is equivalent to doing the hard and long and imaginative work necessary to win a Nobel prize.

    3
  82. MarkedMan says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    This is followed by a strident conclusion that they are irredeemable.

    My argument is different than that, although maybe not in a way that matters to you. I think that 74M are at least OK with evil, but only 10-20% of them are actually supporters of the evil policies themselves. The rest are simply following along. So what do you do with that 80-90%? For the most part, nothing. If you can get a decent amount waddling along in a better direction that’s great. But you are not going to do it by laying out arguments or showing them there is a better way. You are going to do it by giving them an appealing leader they can waddle along after.

    In fact, I suspect you have a better chance of meaningfully changing the mind of the haters (but not the loons). Not a good chance, but a better one.

    4
  83. @DrDaveT:

    I do not wish to put words in Dr. Taylor’s mouth, but that’s not how I interpret his objections to Michael Reynolds’ thesis.

    Most likely the easiest way to characterize my most fundamental objection: it is impossible to ascribe a single motivation to 74 million voters.

    That statement does not encompass my entire position, but it is the heart of the disagreement.

    A key addition to that objection is that since our elections take place in the context of over two centuries of two-party competition, and roughly 1.5 centuries of R v D competition (and in structures that channel our politics into only two viable choices) there are a complex patterns of behavior that started well before 2016 that very much help explain the electoral outcomes in 2016 and 2020.

    Reducing that to “they all voted for Evil and knew it” is not an especially helpful bit of “analysis.”

    7
  84. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Teve:

    I used to work with this guy named Charlie. One day I was in the break room at work and me and another Democrat were discussing something, and Charlie, who was a nice sweet guy, was sincerely confused and said “wait a minute… you don’t think Obama is trying to destroy America from the inside?” Turns out when Charlie wasn’t at work he was watching Fox News all day. After years of that poison Charlie didn’t see Barack Obama anymore, he saw a Muslim with forged papers and a heart full of hate who wanted nothing more than to Get Whitey.

    That’s why I said for a while now that I have no particular expectation that America will survive right-wing media.

    100% this. Freedom of speech is critical to a functioning democracy/Constitutional Republic. Propaganda is lethal poison to it. It’s almost impossible to over-estimate how mis-informed and ignorant Trump voters are at this point.

    I have a step-sister who routinely likes every post I make about defunding police ala the Eugene Oregon model. She loves my rants about the evils of Wall Street Capitalism, how workers have been screwed, and that it’s time to think about strengthening unions again. We’re in near total agreement about the utter disfunction in Congress and how that has led to a massively problematic growth in the Imperial Executive. And she is a near devout Trump fan and voter who thinks America is now doomed to communism because the election was stolen and Biden is President.

    I can’t make sense of the contradiction in my head. The best I’ve come up with is along the lines of “policy doesn’t matter to Trump voters” that others have discussed in depth. It’s a visceral scream of fear, frustration, confusion and rage that Trump tapped in to–an emotional reaction, not a logical one. I blame decades of propaganda in general, and a few specific things as well. Thus she is fine with things I post that rail against “the establishment” whether she actually understands what I’m saying or not. And that’s what Trump does too! (in her mind, at least). So she loves him. But is she evil, or just ignorant and sadly, not that bright?

    7
  85. charon says:

    @DrDaveT:

    So it’s possible to go shopping for definitions. Accepting your challenge I found this:

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/article-2/section-4/impeachable-offenses

    The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the context of impeachments has an ancient English history, first turning up in the impeachment of the Earl of Suffolk in 1388.861 Treason is defined in the Constitution.862 Bribery is not, but it had a clear common law meaning and is now well covered by statute.863 “High crimes and misdemeanors,” however, is an undefined and indefinite phrase, which, in England, had comprehended conduct not constituting indictable offenses.864 Use of the word “other” to link “high crimes and misdemeanors” with “treason” and “bribery” is arguably indicative of the types and seriousness of conduct encompassed by “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Similarly, the word “high” apparently carried with it a restrictive meaning.865

    Debate prior to adoption of the phrase866 and comments thereafter in the ratifying conventions867 were to the effect that the President (all the debate was in terms of the President) should be removable by impeachment for commissions or omissions in office which were not criminally cognizable. And in the First Congress’s “removal” debate, Madison maintained that the wanton dismissal of meritorious officers would be an act of maladministration which would render the President subject to impeachment.868 Other comments, especially in the ratifying conventions, tend toward a limitation of the term to criminal, perhaps gross criminal, behavior.869 The scope of the power has been the subject of continuing debate.870

    3
  86. @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    There seems to be a group here who are determined to claim that ~74 million Americans are simply evil, or ok with evil, or simply HAD to know about the evil but voted on some other issues, or some other variant of the claim. This is followed by a strident conclusion that they are irredeemable.

    This does seem to be the position. As you note, if that position is to be taken seriously, there are profound implications for what that would mean for the country.

    So as pleasant as it is in our superiority to condemn them, how do we shrink that number? And if you’re not in favor of secession or concentration camps (and hell, to go 100% Godwin, even Hitler only managed to round up ~ 6 million), you bigger figure out how to talk to them. Where framing them as hopelessly evil is counter-productive, at best. And/or you need to figure out how to counter them with some sort of reforms in our systems and/or media environment. Where pissing off allies who agree with you on almost everything because they don’t meet your personal standard of contrition and public self-flagellation for actions taken years ago is remarkably arrogant and foolish.

    Indeed.

    And this is especially true when the vast majority of people give little real thought to any of this stuff. That may be a reason to further criticize them, as they ought to pay more attention, but that doesn’t change the fact that they often pay only attention to the R or the D.

    3
  87. Teve says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    There seems to be a group here who are determined to claim that ~74 million Americans are simply evil, or ok with evil, or simply HAD to know about the evil but voted on some other issues, or some other variant of the claim. This is followed by a strident conclusion that they are irredeemable. So what do you suggest for dealing with them besides condemnation?

    Has nobody told you about the UN camps? OK so on the back of the street signs there are these codes that tell you how to get to the locations… 😛

    3
  88. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Reducing that to “they all voted for Evil and knew it” is not an especially helpful bit of “analysis.”

    It may not be helpful for your academic work, but understanding the reality of the statement could be very useful indeed. So many people think that because their neighbors seem to be decent sorts, they can be relied on. Just yesterday, for about the thousandth time in my life I came across a comment from someone talking about a Jewish relative during WWII – “He didn’t leave because he knew his countrymen were decent people and they wouldn’t turn him over to the Nazi’s”

    7
  89. Teve says:

    @Kingdaddy: “ without being denounced by modern Savanarolas” reference fist-bump.

    4
  90. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: yep. The obliteration of truth. We have Alternate Facts.

    1
  91. MarkedMan says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    But is she evil, or just ignorant and sadly, not that bright?

    Or perhaps someone anxious to follow a leader she perceives as charismatic, and therefore blind to where he is leading her? Totally a theoretical question, but if Trump asked her to secretly send the names of all her friends and relatives who are disloyal to him, would she turn you in?

    3
  92. @Kingdaddy: Thanks for your comment.

    And, indeed:

    Your whole position is an ad hominem argument

    I am not sure why what I initially said above then leads to a return to personal excoriations about how I voted some time in the past.

    For those that missed my attempt to provide a fairly detailed answer to this whole business, please see here and here.

    Again: my personal voting history is not the issue, nor does it really bear on my analysis of present politics. More accurately, my analysis of present politics is what impacts my current voting (if a connection must be made between the two).

    1
  93. DrDaveT says:

    @charon: Thanks; that’s helpful.

    2
  94. @MarkedMan: I am not going to argue that the allegedly decent can, ultimately, do or condone evil.

    But that is not the same thing as saying you have unlocked the answer to why 74 million voted as they did.

  95. BTW: can I remind everyone that Hitler never won an election and he was appointed Chancellor.

    That really has nothing to do with my position, but it also points out that we are not dealing with some perfectly analogous situation.

    2
  96. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: yeah, when I see for example creationists or global warming deniers with their conspiracies about how scientists around the world are marching in lockstep to a dishonest agenda, my eyes boggle. I think, have you ever met any scientists? They Dream about proving everybody else wrong. Showing the world that you’re right and everybody else is wrong is how you get a free plane ticket to Sweden.

    When nobody was believing Barry Marshall that a bacteria caused ulcers, he fucking drank it and gave himself severe bowel inflammation as a demonstration. When it comes to finding out the truth, these people aren’t playing.

    5
  97. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As you note, if that position is to be taken seriously, there are profound implications for what that would mean for the country

    Yes. There are profound implications for what that means for the country.

    George Washington, when he refused to torture prisoners of war despite our enemy torturing his men, profoundly understood what it meant to go down that dark path. He knew that his men would cheer it and that he could convince the country that he was justified. He knew that he could do that dark thing and he would still get all the accolades and glory provided he brought victory. And yet he chose not to sanction it and punished those who did it in secret. Because he knew what a profound effect it would have on us as a country.

    George W. Bush embrace the torture. And, as George Washington predicted, most of the country just went along with it. Where the leader went the people followed and cheered him all the same. And it has had a profound effect on us. Does it matter that if you polled people only 15% or so admitted that they were fine with torture? No. Because our character is defined not by what we abhor but by what we will not tolerate.

    10
  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Extending your thought further, I wonder if the Democrats didn’t get 100% of the Republicans standing again in 2026–and if not, why not? I know why I stuck to my beliefs about Nixon, but then again, I know that I’m a sociopath, too.

    2
  99. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But that is not the same thing as saying you have unlocked the answer to why 74 million voted as they did

    I agree. I don’t seem to be getting my point through. In fact, we are almost saying the same thing. I say that the vast majority of the 74M, all but 10-20% are just following where they are led. You are saying that the most important fact is whether they and they friends voted “R” or “D” in past elections. There may be an academic distinction there, but those two are close enough that I would call them “in agreement”.

    And I should be explicit. I believe the exact same thing about the vast majority of Biden voters. So yes, “in agreement”.

    Where we differ is on what to do. I don’t think we can do anything but have a holding action against the haters and the loons. We get a few on our side and we lose a few to theirs. So how do you grab some of the rest? I don’t think you can make a meaningful dent with any policy or position change. I think you make a dent by putting forth charismatic leaders who are also decent people and who actually do have a moral compass. But for that 70-80% of the population, the key is “charismatic”, not “decent”.

    Oh, and don’t needlessly poke them in the eye with the stick of self righteousness.

    1
  100. Pylon says:

    @charon: Oh, I know what SCOTUS would want to do and it’s not my notion that they’d rule on impeachment on the merits. I think that the discrete legal point of the constitutionality of the post-presidential impeachment trial should be put to a jurist. The Senate could refer that procedural issue as a pre-impeachment trial question.

    After all, juries don’t rule on such issues in a criminal or civil trial. They are told the test and asked whether the facts meet the test.

  101. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    They Dream about proving everybody else wrong. Showing the world that you’re right and everybody else is wrong is how you get a free plane ticket to Sweden.

    The anti-science crowd are like a wanna-be major league hitter who wants to get credit for all the runs they score after moving the pitching mound to just before second base and the outfield wall to just after.

  102. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    our character is defined not by what we abhor but by what we will not tolerate.

    That is a really interesting and compelling way to put that. I dig it, and a mere thumbs up felt insufficient.

    4
  103. MarkedMan says:

    Sorry for the long post, but I feel this is an important piece of evidence that will not make it into the trial and is behind Talking Point Memo’s paywall:

    Del. Stacey Plaskett made a key point Wednesday afternoon: Trump supporters’ Jan. 6 rally — timed to coincide with Congress certifying the election results — wasn’t just incidental. It occurred at Trump’s behest.

    One of the rally’s early planners can corroborate that.

    I’ve been asking Cindy Chafian, a conservative activist and reiki practitioner who was an organizer with Women For America First until December, about what happened. Chafian filed the permit with the National Park Service for the Jan. 6 rally, and was involved with the event’s planning and financing in its early stages.

    Chafian told me that she had first asked the National Park Service in a late November application for a permit to hold a rally on Jan. 22 — after the inauguration.

    “I tend to look ahead and submit permit applications for dates I think may be important,” Chafian told TPM in an instant message. “Originally I had it for the weekend following inauguration but after 12/12 rally and the issues with the election certification, I felt that date was more appropriate.”

    I asked Chafian why the rally was moved from after the inauguration to smack dab in the middle of Congress’ certification of the Electoral College.

    “January 6 was the day that the votes were to be certified or contested,” she replied. “And then the president called everyone to DC to support the rule of law and process of contesting votes thought to be ineligible.”

    So the rally was moved to Jan. 6 because Trump asked for it?

    Chafian also said that she had initially planned to hold the rally at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza, not the Ellipse, where Trump eventually gave the speech which launched the insurrection.

    According to Chafian, some of these changes took place after Chafian was sidelined from the planning around the rally by Caroline Wren, a GOP operative. Wren kicked Chaifian out, CNN reported, by telling her one week before the rally that “You didn’t think we would let a nobody with an organization no one has ever heard of plan an event for the President did you?”

    Chafian remains bitter about it, and claimed to TPM that Wren and others had taken over the event as part of an effort to draw Trump closer in to the bid to overturn the election results.

    “The people that were responsible for setting up the stage as well as facilitating the organization of the event […] had worked with the presidential campaign many times so they knew every detail that needed to be checked in order to get the clearance from secret service at the last minute,” Chafian wrote. “Which is exactly what they did.”

    3
  104. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: ” If someone is choosing not to vote for a Democrat because they believe that person is a cannibal pedophile,”

    Speaking only for my own sense of the conditions now, I suspect that the number of voters that pull the “R” lever for that type of reason is pretty small. The number who, knowing that feature and wincing at it, will still pull the lever anyway is pretty large. The number who are in the camp of the 2000 election voter complaint of ‘I never had to read the ballot before this year, the Democrat was always the second punch down’ are probably the majority–maybe 60%+.

    2
  105. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Thank you. I was too lazy to do the counting myself.

    I guess I’m stuck with sociopath or really really stupid for why only six. Oh well.

  106. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Most likely the easiest way to characterize my most fundamental objection: it is impossible to ascribe a single motivation to 74 million voters.

    Agreed — but I don’t see how that contradicts the claim you were rejecting. Saying that 74 million people voted for evil does not (to me, at least) imply any unanimity of motivation. Indeed, I pointed out one important bifurcation — namely, between the deluded and the complicit. There are many others. Voting for [whatever] is an outcome, not a motivation — an effect, as opposed to a cause. Otherwise, all discussions of why people vote the way they vote would be circular.

    1
  107. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am not going to argue that the allegedly decent can, ultimately, do or condone evil. But that is not the same thing as saying you have unlocked the answer to why 74 million voted as they did.

    I don’t see anyone characterizing “74 million people condoned evil” as the answer to a why question — it’s not an explanation, nor is it intended to be. It’s a fact that any proposed explanation must accommodate. If a proposed explanation doesn’t explain how that could happen, then it is at best incomplete, and possibly simply wrong.

    [Had I an edit button, I’d have added this to my above response.]

    1
  108. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kingdaddy: There are some days when I read Michael and think to myself “wa! that was really insightful and well stated,” and there are other days when I sigh, shake my head and mutter “meh… Michael is being Michael again.”

    We seem to be having a lot of the type-2 days at the moment. Mostly, I just get the gist in sentence one and two and then skip to the next comment. There’s no point in reading (or arguing with) the Michael we’re seeing today. Just let him finish his rant and move on.

    9
  109. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: I’ve tried a few times to explain to friends with little exposure to science that the reason you can trust science is, paradoxically, falsifiability. Religion is never wrong because there’s no way to show it is wrong. Science, on the other hand, is often wrong because, as you say, that’s the way it works. This usually leads to a retort about eggs were bad for you, now they’re good, those scientists never know what they’re doing.

    Same thing operates with media. FOX never admits error (unless they get hit with a billion dollar plus slam dunk voting machine suit) while NYT or NBC sometimes admit error, so obviously FOX is more trustworthy.

    2
  110. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Religion is never wrong because there’s no way to show it is wrong.

    Coincidentally, I read a piece suggesting theological tests in Scientific american recently.

    One proposal is that if Christian theology is right, then every sentient species who has sinned must ave bene visited by Jesus. So after we make contact, we can ask them.

    But this can be obviated by a claim that just the one visit by Jesus on a small corner of the Earth was enough. How do you prove otherwise? There are no reports of Jesus visiting other places, like Africa, the Americas, Asia, or Micronesia.

    Another is the Christian belief that the Messiah has come and will return, vs the Jewish belief the Messiah is yet to arrive. Since both agree he will arrive someday, when he does we ask him “Have you been here before?”

    That one’s less ambiguous.

  111. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You know, Steven, I have been endlessly polite with you. The snark and the insults have all come from you, aimed at me.

    Are you sure about that?

    7
  112. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kathy: Actually, Mormon theology claims that very thing…that Jesus appeared and preached Redemption in America after his crucifixion and resurrection.

  113. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I’m not so sure that it’s useful to distinguish people who think white supremacy is a positive good from those who are OK with a white supremacist agenda if it comes with lower taxes or more coal mining jobs.

    I wouldn’t really distinguish between those two groups either. If anything, I have more contempt and disdain for the group that goes along with white supremacy for lower taxes or whatever. But I do think it’s worth differentiating between the above and the people who honestly believe (wildly incorrectly) that Trump doesn’t have a white supremacist agenda. And I also believe that of the ~74 million, there are more of them in the latter group than the former. Decades of propaganda have put them in an alternate reality. Which I have no real idea how to bridge-I just know that calling all of them evil or ok with evil isn’t going to improve things.

    @MarkedMan:

    Or perhaps someone anxious to follow a leader she perceives as charismatic, and therefore blind to where he is leading her? Totally a theoretical question, but if Trump asked her to secretly send the names of all her friends and relatives who are disloyal to him, would she turn you in?

    Heh. Interesting way to phrase that. Pretty sure the answer is no 🙂 Not that Trump needs someone to report me as disloyal to him–he can scrape my Facebook feed and get that crystal clear.

    1
  114. Kathy says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I’ve heard of that.

    I’ve seen no evidence.

  115. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Same. And the days where @MichaelReynolds is ordering Dr. Taylor to flog himself because he USED to be a Republican…..dang, dude. Just be happy that some people have come to see the light.

    There’s no need to keep hammering on it, post after post.

    6
  116. Teve says:

    @gVOR08:

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 19:03
    @Teve: I’ve tried a few times to explain to friends with little exposure to science that the reason you can trust science is, paradoxically, falsifiability. Religion is never wrong because there’s no way to show it is wrong. Science, on the other hand, is often wrong because, as you say, that’s the way it works. This usually leads to a retort about eggs were bad for you, now they’re good, those scientists never know what they’re doing.

    Shitty science reporting is responsible for most of that. Scientists will find some good chemical in eggs and reporters will say SCIENTISTS SAY EGGS GOOD FOR YOU and a few years later some other scientist will find some bad chemical in eggs and journalists will write NOW SCIENTISTS SAY EGGS BAD FOR YOU. And people get the stupid idea that science just changes at random. It doesn’t. It does change, but it gets closer to the truth all the time. You hear the exact same thing about coffee, when in reality, there is very good science about the effects of coffee, it can cause problems in people who are jittery or insomniac, but it also is protective of the heart and the liver. You can get good information if you read Scientific American or the New York Times science section etc., but most people get their science information wholly from unlearned journalists writing headlines for the Dubuque Courier.

  117. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: if scientists really don’t know what they’re doing, how the fuck does the space shuttle get going 17,000 miles an hour? Do you think Jethro down at the Frito-Lay plant can pull that off?

  118. Kurtz says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Trump showed us who he was. Repeatedly.

    These people aren’t making the same calculation as we are, because they aren’t getting the same information we are. The RW media environment actively feeds people bullshit. It doesn’t require being from Venezuela or Cuba to be fed bullshit that will stick.

    2
  119. Teve says:

    Yeah, today scientists say that the polio vaccine worked, but tomorrow maybe they’ll say that it didn’t, OH WAIT NO THEY WON’T BECAUSE NOBODY GETS POLIO ANYMORE YOU HUGE DUMBASS

    2
  120. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kathy: One would think this particular claim would be questioned by Mormons as there is no record anywhere in any Native American theology of a God-man appearing— but alas that’s not the way religion works.

    2
  121. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    Shitty science reporting is responsible for most of that.

    Yes and no.

    Have you ever read Richard Feynman’s commencement address on “Cargo Cult Science”? He (rightly) fingers several branches of “science” as having lost sight of the whole falsifiability and reproducibility thing. Psychoanalysis, education, a few others. You could easily lump “nutrition science” in there with them, and there has been a major crisis of reproducibility in epidemiology for decades now.

    It’s not just the reporting; the “scientists” are complicit in a number of fields. The good news is that this, too, is self-correcting, because science. But it sometimes takes a while.

  122. Owen says:

    @Teve: I’m already feeling guilty about this, but Jethro did try!

    1
  123. @Michael Reynolds:

    You know, Steven, I have been endlessly polite with you. The snark and the insults have all come from you, aimed at me. I have repeatedly said I admire your erudition, and respect your profession. In return I get insults.

    Michael, I will cop to having been snarky. I will even cop to stubbornness and even arrogance at times. I have honestly never been intentionally insulting. I have engaged in a bit of tit-for-tat with you, but you hardly are a shrinking violet and thought you were game for a back-and-forth when I thought you were wrong.

    But in this very thread, you have likened me to a Nazi enabler and called me “morally obtuse.” You constantly harangue me about how I voted in the past and demand I repent. You say things like I knowingly promoted the Southern Strategy (a statement I reject).

    You have to know that telling anyone that they would have been a Nazi apologist is a massive insult. How much more of an insult to tel someone who primarily writes about Democratic reform?

    To quote the current president, come on, man.

    The worst thing I can think of that I have said about your is that your view of Republican voters is “cartoonish” in this thread and I have called you arrogant.

    I have never called your morality into question. I have never questioned your professional judgment.

    Also: I flat don’t understand, as I tried to politely explain last week, and which you never addressed, why something I am saying about voter behavior in 2020 has anything to do with how I voted in 2004. It is such a non sequitur that I don’t know what to do with it.

    Regardless, I will no longer engage you on this topic. Nothing I can say will change your mind and clearly it just invites attacks on my character. I apologize for any insult that you perceive I have slung your way (if you want to point me to something specific that I am forgetting, feel free). That is not a non-apology of the type “I am sorry if you are upset” but an honest statement that I did not intend to insult you and will apologize specifically if you identify the offense in question.

    But, really, I don’t want to be derided for doing a not unreasonable thing in my past. Indeed, I don’t understand why you think it is appropriate to demand I apologize to you about such matters. Especially since it has zero to do with whether my political analysis is right or wrong. Judge what I say on the merits, please.

    11
  124. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: notice I was careful to say most, not all. Doreen at the Waffle House isn’t concerned about the decades-long crisis of reproducibility in epidemiology.

    99% of humans get their science news from shitty news sources like reading just a headline, written by a reporter who couldn’t pass chemistry 101 if his life depended on it, possibly going only from a press release put out by a University administration who are also clueless.

    ETA I actually have one friend who is a well-known epidemiologist, and by well-known I mean she’s done some spots on CNN and places like that, and she does give accurate information, but for every minute she’s on TV there’s 40 minutes of some asshole from the Trump administration saying the opposite.

  125. Owen says:

    @Teve: I applaud your optimism that 99% of folks get science based information from a poor news source, but I’m more inclined to believe that a significant portion (maybe not most) of any population gets their information on science by word of mouth (or FB) from someone they may not even know.

    2
  126. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    notice I was careful to say most, not all.

    Fair enough. I certainly don’t want to come across here as making a “both sides do it” argument. But my father was a lab scientist, and I worked in a science lab for a few years, and my career is science-adjacent (and heavy on the statistical inference side of things), so bad science really pisses me off. 🙂 Bad science reporting pisses me off too, though — you’re right to call it out.

  127. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    guess I’m stuck with sociopath or really really stupid for why only six. Oh well.

    Oh, I’ve always found that venal and corrupt works, and, while stupidity is more common, frequently partner in a stupidity sandwich. OTOH, as you well know, sociopathy likes ours is fortunately much rarer.

    1
  128. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jim Brown 32: My recollection on that point is that indigenous Americans rejected Jesus when he came, which is why Moroni had to come back to Joseph Smith in the 1820s, but my recall may be a little fuzzy.

    2
  129. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: “…sociopathy likes ours is fortunately much rarer.”

    I’ve always thought that a good thing, too. That and finding workable religion at a relatively early age made a big difference for me.

    1
  130. flat earth luddite says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    “But, really, I don’t want to be derided for doing a not unreasonable thing in my past….
    …Judge what I say on the merits, please.”

    Indeed. Thanks for hosting, and for your patience with my fumbling occasional efforts to add something to a group that’s given me a lot to think about, and is (probably) on average way smarter than this luddite.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    “You know, Steven, I have been endlessly polite with you. ”

    At least from this luddite’s perspective, it seems like you’ve been engaged in wildly shooting from the hip recently. While I understand your frustration and anger, hitting someone over and over doesn’t change their mind, or the past, and just makes the you look like a bully. Enough, already, please.

    I’ll be the first to admit that people such as Drs. Taylor and Joyner are convenient and easy targets. Still, dude, the statute of limitations on past thoughts and actions has run. Their philosophies and values have changed over the decades. I suspect yours have. I KNOW mine have.

    IMO, ultimately we’re all on the same side here. We all love and respect the country we live in, and the notion that America is something to value and cherish. Most of the time, that seems to be the underlying theme at OTB.

    9
  131. Loviatar says:

    I see a lot of the same arguments that were used in 1850s and the 1930s.

  132. Kurtz says:

    @charon:

    Yeah, I was about to respond to Dr. Dave about that, but waited to see if you returned with a cite. It certainly had a specific meaning in English law–the one I remembered was about leaving a ship unmoored that subsequently floated away.

    My memory is hazy on it, and I didn’t feel like looking for the NPR podcast I heard it on. At least I think that’s where I remember it from. So thanks, because I really didn’t want to go digging.

  133. Loviatar says:

    160 million US voters
    – 15% will start a fire
    – 30% will watch it burn
    – 45% will grab a water pail
    – 10% will both sides the situation

    .

    74 million Trump Voters
    – 35% will start a fire
    – 65% will watch it burn

    1
  134. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Reducing that to “they all voted for Evil and knew it” is not an especially helpful bit of “analysis.”

    My two brothers both voted for Trump (twice) because they think the whole system is corrupt — one of the brothers is a bit more racist, one just likes chaos (less of a “I want to watch the world burn” and more of a “if the world is going to burn anyway, I want a good show”). Trump made them feel like they had a voice — so long as the voice was outrage.

    And they have things to be outraged about. Both have been struggling financially, and the long, slow recovery after The Great Recession hurt them (McConnell’s plan paying dividends).

    One lost his job a few years ago, and his new job is less pay, less responsibility, and there are brown people at the same level, and while he will claim to not have a racist bone in his body this pisses him off. He’s doing worse off than a few years ago, and he’s seeing (specific) brown folks doing better than they were a few years ago, and he feels like his safe space is being invaded. If he was doing better, and brown folks were doing better then he probably wouldn’t mind, even if the gap was was shrinking. He can see that something is wrong, and thinks it’s a zero sum game.

    The other brother is just kind of an asshole, and Trumpism appeals to him for that reason. He’s always been struggling financially, and is sliding backwards. When he was in high school, he got fired from four jobs in a year, and each time said it was because “the boss was an asshole.” (My father said “I don’t know, after a few times… maybe you’re the asshole.”) Someone comes along who will tell him the game is rigged, his problems are someone else’s fault and that his vices are virtues, and he gobbles that shit up. He thinks Trump is going to rig the game the other way. He also thinks that everyone else cheats and that if he doesn’t cheat he would be a chump.

    I would not say that these are the greatest reasons to vote for a political candidate, and I did my civic duty by explaining that they don’t have to vote at all, but I wouldn’t call either supporting evil as much as just being desperate and scared.

    Now, my father is evil (thinks Pinochet was a great man, for instance). He looked at Trump and said “how could they nominate this idiot?” He voted Libertarian in 2016, and for Biden in 2020. He’s evil, but he values competence. Trump wasn’t going to get the trains to run on time.

    ——
    ETA: My brothers also ate a lot of paint chips when they were younger. As a stunt, because they heard it was bad for you. I don’t think that house had lead paint, but the one the family lived in before I was born might have.

    Yes, my older brothers ate paint. When I was 6. So, they were 10-12?

    I want my bloodline to end.

    2
  135. Gustopher says:

    The one brother would peel paint off the doorframe to his bedroom and eat it like potato chips and laugh. He now works in air quality monitoring for asbestos removal.

    If there is a god, she has a wicked sense of irony.

    3
  136. James Joyner says:

    @Pylon:

    I think that the discrete legal point of the constitutionality of the post-presidential impeachment trial should be put to a jurist. The Senate could refer that procedural issue as a pre-impeachment trial question.

    As best as I understand it, we don’t have a mechanism for doing that in our system. The Supreme Court would take the matter only in the case of some sort of adverse action by the Senate.

  137. SKI says:

    @James Joyner: In reality, they won’t take it in any event. Per established SCOTUS precedent, impeachment isn’t a legal question. It is political.

    Contra comments upthread, there is no serious dispute as to the ability to impeach former officials*. It has happened repeatedly throughout our history, including shortly after the signing of the Constitution and the Constitutional discussions about impeachment were very much shaped by the then-recent impeachment in Parliament of the former British official in India for corruption while he had been in office.

    Some of the GOP Senators now claiming you can’t impeach a former official voted to convict a former judge just a few years ago.

    ________________
    *Note that Trump was impeached while in office. It is merely his trial that ahs carried on past hois term – notably because McConnel refused to agree to call the Senate back in session using emergency powers and some GOP Senators refused to agree to come back, preventing unanimous consent.

    1
  138. Pylon says:

    @SKI: Again, my point is not whether impeachment is legal v political. And it’s not an argument that the Senate would ever follow. But the Senate sets rules for impeachment trials. And one of those rules could be to refer legal questions to a jurist. They won’t do it though.

    The other point is that, to the extent constitutionality was an issue, if the analogy to a trial process was actually followed, the issue is now decided (by the vote to proceed) and the “jurors” should have to decide on the merits only. If an objection to evidence is made in a trial, but the objection is overruled, the jurors must consider the evidence. They can’t say “well, I agree with the objection therefore I am going to ignore the evidence”. So these R Senators should quit pretending to be jurors and just acknowledge that they are voting party line.

    In any event it doesn’t matter. Nor does acquittal matter in the long run. The realistic aim of the Dems is not conviction. It’s to publicly highlight, in a widespread forum (Fox News notwithstanding) the actions of Trump and his enablers. And to hang an acquittal vote around the necks of the Trump enablers in the Senate.

    1
  139. Pylon says:

    @James Joyner: as far as I’m aware, there are no legislated impeachment rules of evidence or procedure. The Senate therefore sets its own rules, by majority vote, and could conceivably provide for pre-determination of pure evidentiary or legal issues. As another example, if there hadn’t been a withdrawal of the evidence about Mike Lee yesterday, there would eventually have been a bare majority Senate vote on the evidence.

  140. SKI says:

    @Pylon:

    But the Senate sets rules for impeachment trials. And one of those rules could be to refer legal questions to a jurist. They won’t do it though

    They can’t do it. Federal Courts in the United States do not and can not issue “Advisory Opinions”. It is prohibited by the United States Constitution’s requirement that there be an actual case or controversy.

    1
  141. Pylon says:

    @SKI: This is an actual case or controversy – there was an actual hearing about the topic. But moreover, it wouldn’t be a court acting qua court. It would be more like an independent arbitrator with respect to issues of pure law. Again, this would simply be part of the Senate’s own procedural rules.

    The issue is more about R senators (a) forming a legal opinion about constitutionality and (b) even after that issues has been decided against them, relying on it for their decision on the merits. It’s offensive from a legal and procedural standpoint.

  142. SKI says:

    @Pylon:

    This is an actual case or controversy – there was an actual hearing about the topic.

    No, it isn’t. Not under American law. There was no case in any federal court being appealed up through the circuit courts to SCOTUS and it is not an area where SCOTUS has original jurisdiction.

    Under the Constitution, Congress is expected to say what the law is. Courts apply facts to that law. You are asking Courts to do Congress’s job because you think they are “independent”. They aren’t.

    I get you *want* this to be a solution so that you can tell yourself it isn’t drenched in partisan politics but (a) it isn’t available and (b) you are deluding yourself if you think SCOTUS isn’t obviously political itself.

    1
  143. charon says:

    @Pylon:

    This is an actual case or controversy

    It’s really a frivolous controversy, given that impeaching former officials has been common for hundreds of years, longer than the age of the Constitution. I see it as just gaslighting.

  144. I think it is important to understand, to SKI’s point, a “case in controversy” means two parties involved in a legal dispute before a court.

    In other words, it means an active civil or criminal case.

    The fact that something is generically controversial does not make it a “case in controversy.”

    Moreover, again to SKI’s point: US courts can only engage in what is called “concrete review”–that is it can only act when a case is before it. Some countries have “abstract review” wherein the constitutional court can provide an interpretation of the law outside of an actual case.

  145. charon says:

    @Pylon:

    The realistic aim of the Dems is not conviction. It’s to publicly highlight, in a widespread forum (Fox News notwithstanding) the actions of Trump and his enablers. And to hang an acquittal vote around the necks of the Trump enablers in the Senate.

    The way the case is being presented, it’s only nominally Trump on trial, it’s really the entire GOP and Conservative movement being tried.