Steven V. Roberts column: ‘Just go, go, go!’
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” said Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, in announcing she would vote to impeach President Trump.
Cheney is the third-ranking member of her party’s leadership in the House, and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. So her defection is significant, and signals a seismic shift away from a president who tried to subvert the election results and encouraged supporters to invade the Capitol.
A growing number of Americans, including a sizable slice of the Republican Party, are saying “Enough is enough.” They are echoing the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, who wrote in his 1972 classic, “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!”: “The time has come! The time is now! JUST GO, GO, GO! I DON’T CARE HOW!”
Trump is virtually certain to survive all attempts to push him out of office before Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. But when he does leave, his influence over American politics will be severely diminished. Just a few weeks ago, Trump could credibly float the notion of running again, but that option is now nullified. Finished. Kaput.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said correctly, “This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that.” But the price won’t be impeachment — it will be irrelevance. His ratings will drop. His show will be canceled.
“I don’t think he is electable in any way,” Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on CNN. “And I don’t think he’s going to be exercising anything like the kind of influence that he has had over the Republican Party going forward.”
As Toomey suggests, Trump’s loss of leverage will not just affect his own future, but it will also severely impair his ability to carry out his threats to punish fellow Republicans who have crossed him. In fact, his eroding influence was revealed even before his acolytes assaulted the Congress, when Georgia voters ousted two Republican senators Trump had campaigned for.
Of course, Trump won 74 million votes, many supporters remain steadfastly loyal, and any Republican running for president in 2024 will eagerly try to inherit Trump’s base. But if Trumpism were a stock, its market value would be sliding, and signs of that decline are emerging daily.
In an ABC/Ipsos poll, two-thirds of Americans blame Trump for the rioting in Washington, including 1 out of 3 Republicans. And 69% said they don’t trust him “to protect democracy in the United States,” with only 30% expressing confidence in his leadership.
The staunchly conservative Wall Street Journal urged Congress to impeach Trump, saying, “This week has probably finished him as a serious political figure … He has refused to accept the basic bargain of democracy, which is to accept the result, win or lose.” GOP pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group with 12 Trump followers right after the riot in Washington, and only two said they favored nominating him for another term. “Trump is much less powerful today than he was 72 hours ago,” Luntz concluded.
Several cabinet officers and other senior officials have resigned in protest, including former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. He left his post as special envoy to Northern Ireland, saying on CNBC, “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”
Rep. Nancy Mace, a first-term Republican from South Carolina, worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, but said she had a “change of heart” and turned against him “after seeing the lies that were being told to the American people” about election fraud. Then came the Capitol catastrophe, and Mace said, “Everything that he’s worked for, all of that — his entire legacy — was wiped out.”
It’s not just Trump who’s paying a well-deserved price for his perfidy. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who thought he was being so damn clever by leading the congressional charge against the election results, was denounced for having “blood on his hands” by the biggest newspaper in his home state, and a leading publisher canceled a fat book deal he had recently negotiated.
Major corporations have ended or suspended campaign contributions to Republicans who challenged the legitimacy of the election results. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have banned Trump. And there are more humiliations to come, including financial troubles and legal hassles.
Enough is enough. Donald J. Trump, will you please go now.
Steven Roberts teaches politics and journalism at George Washington University. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.