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The impeachment trial will be good theater (and accomplish nothing)

I get it. I really do: Democrats (and maybe a couple Republicans) want another opportunity to demonstrate Donald Trump’s lousy character while also fishing for information about whether he incited a group of people to attempt an overthrow of the government. (And what a ragtag group of followers they were, but that’s another story.) As a result, a second impeachment trial will begin in a couple weeks’ time.

An overwhelming number of Republicans are beginning to do what was expected: Reminding their Democratic colleagues that there’s not much point in going after Trump now. They also might be trying to placate Trump, who reportedly is eager to get even with any Republican who votes against him or who endorsed the call for impeachment.

For the Democrats, the end game might not be a guilty verdict in the Senate. It might be generating support to ensure Trump can never run for office again. Forget for a moment that the mechanism to do that is murky and remind yourself there won’t be enough, if any, support from Republicans to make it happen.

Put all of this together and here’s what will happen beginning Feb. 8: Democrats will hammer away that Trump rallied some of his most frenzied supporters to storm the Capitol in the first steps of a coup to keep him in power. They will insist such actions were seditious, and Trump ought never be allowed to hold office again. They might even throw in a “the guy’s lucky he’s not in jail unlike some of the buffoons who invaded the Capitol on January 6th.”

Almost everyone on the political left will tune into their media echo chambers to remind themselves the Democrats are fighting the good fight. Almost everyone on the political right will tune into their media echo chambers to remind themselves that the magnificent, wonderful man who was America’s 45th president of the United States was all but persecuted while he was in office, and that persecution continues now that he’s returned to private life.

The Senate’s vote will be 51-49 (maybe 52-48) to convict, a tally that will be nowhere close to the 67 votes necessary. Any effort after that to invoke a section of the 14th Amendment will end with a similar vote.

America will go on, divided as ever. And Trump will again have shown an uncanny ability to do so much wrong and not pay for it.

Pop some popcorn. With America’s theaters closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the impeachment trial will be the closest thing to good theater that we’re going to get right now.

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