Trump has been publicly shamed to the point of being unable, most likely, to return to the presidency. — Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a co-author of 'Impeachment: An American History'
Trump has been publicly shamed to the point of being unable, most likely, to return to the presidency. — Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a co-author of 'Impeachment: An American History'
Trump's acquittal proves authoritarianism remains a 'potent force' in the US, but impeachment puts a 'black mark' on him forever
  • Trump's acquittal shows "anti-democratic threats are alive and well" in the US, an expert said.
  • A presidential historian said Trump has a permanent "black mark" from two impeachments.
  • Many GOP senators voted for acquittal because doing otherwise would've amounted to self-indictment, an expert said.
Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale University and author of "How Fascism Works," told Insider the trial exhibited how the GOP has become a "complete norm-breaking party, because they regard the other side as illegitimate."

Republicans fear becoming a permanent minority party and have wedded themselves to democracy-eroding tactics as a result, Stanley said, warning that Trump's trial showed authoritarianism remains a "potent force" in the US.

That said, the House impeachment managers crafted a compelling case against Trump that showed how he fomented a culture of violence and extremism for years. Historians say this will forever tarnish Trump's legacy.

"Trump has been publicly shamed to the point of being unable, most likely, to return to the presidency," Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and a co-author of "Impeachment: An American History," told Insider.

Trump lost in 2020 without the disgrace of being impeached twice and now "this black mark" will follow him wherever he goes, Engel added.

Similarly, Stanley said it was "vital" to go through the trial even though Trump wasn't convicted "because it's a part of the historical record."

But the seemingly inevitable conclusion of Trump's trial still raises serious questions as to whether impeachment is a truly effective means of holding presidents accountable.

... Former Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, a Democrat, in a recent CNN op-ed said, "If Trump's actions are not impeachable, then nothing is, and we may as well strike that provision from the Constitution."

Trump's acquittal sends a "chilling message" that future presidents will "face no accountability for inciting violence during and after an election," Keisha N. Blain, an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, told Politico Magazine.


"The Senate's failure to hold Trump accountable—and in so doing, their failure to prevent him from running for office again—will have lasting, terrible consequences," Blain said. Others, however, argue the public re-telling of Trump's role in sparking the riot will permanently mar Trump's political standing. Engel said that impeachment, however imperfect, still "maintains its ability to be the ultimate political judgment."

"If the purpose of democracy is to allow the majority's will to be heard, then the founders were right in thinking that impeachment would be such an awful stain that anybody who endured it is unlikely to ever get past the electorate again," Engel said. "Let's remember Trump was impeached the first time and subsequently lost." The net effect of the trial, Engel said, is ensuring that Trump "doesn't ever capture the presidency again." Engel said it's possible that Trump could win the GOP nomination in the future, but doesn't see "any way that he achieves victory again."

The founders would be "sad that we elected such a jack---," Engel said of Trump. "But they wouldn't be surprised."

"The Constitution is designed, specifically, not to prevent the election of such a person, but to ensure that such a person can't maintain power forever," Engel added.

... "The way authoritarianism works is you get people to break the law with you," Stanley said. "And when they break the law with you, they have to defend your illegal acts because they are culpable. That's how the whole thing works: loyalty. That's how the mob works ... Authoritarianism is like the mob."

... Trump has revealed that "there's an anti-democratic audience in America" attracted to autocratic leadership, Stanley said, and restoring faith in government while strengthening laws protecting voting rights are the primary remedies to this slide toward authoritarianism.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-acquittal-proves-authoritarianism-remains-potent-force-in-us-2021-2