Republicans have betrayed American democracy – and boosted the world's dictators

Simon Tisdall

Trump never respected the constitution but the GOP did not have to follow him over the cliff

President Donald Trump at a rally in Washington prior to the storming of the Capitol in January.
President Donald Trump at a rally in Washington prior to the storming of the Capitol in January. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA
President Donald Trump at a rally in Washington prior to the storming of the Capitol in January. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA
Sun 14 Feb 2021 01.30 EST

This is not even about Donald Trump any more. It’s about a Republican party that has lost its way, forgotten its core values, and kicked American democracy in the guts.

It’s about justice, common sense, and honour, and how they were trampled deep into the churned-up ground of Capitol Hill by a mob of liars and dissemblers who call themselves GOP senators.

It’s about how a nation, most favoured on earth, that cast itself as a shining light in enveloping darkness discovered it had feet of clay and laws that did not stand.

Just imagine how this latest impeachment travesty – which, despite its last-minute twists and turns, has resulted in acquittal – is viewed in Pyongyang, Minsk, Damascus and other hangouts of dictators, autocrats and war criminals.

Myanmar’s generals, universally reviled for this month’s coup, might be forgiven for asking: why is your insurrection so much more excusable than ours?

Vladimir Putin, struggling to get past the Navalny conspiracy and Black Sea palace corruption scandal, has been handed a lifeline by Ted Cruz and the rest, abetted by Trump’s third-choice hack lawyers.

If an American president can behave like this and get away with it, then who’s to say what Putin’s mafia cronies get up to is so very bad? This is the Trumpists’ morally repugnant, relativist argument.

And talking of morality, where are those legions of God-fearing, Trump-worshipping Christian fundamentalists when you really need to draw a line between right and wrong? Praying for the second coming of Mike Pompeo, perhaps.

Xi Jinping is not a man who jokes a lot. Global domination is a serious business, after all. It takes a toll. But even China’s big cheese must have cracked a smile as democracy took a beating and the world turned upside down.

Everyone likes a Houdini act. Trump’s performance is the political equivalent of going over Niagara Falls in a barrel weighted down by redundant Fox News anchors.

We know about China’s rise. But America’s fall?

Trump never respected the US constitution. His second impeachment has made a mockery of that hallowed text. Ironically, he claimed it was unconstitutional. He’s the expert.

Yet Senate Republicans did not have to follow him over the cliff. Where do they go from here? Who knows? To an all-night bar perhaps, slurping down Kentucky mint juleps in honour of Mitch McConnell.

It’s about them now. Senior GOP leaders – the Gain Over Principle party – are discredited beyond redemption. With a handful of exceptions, they abandoned their sworn duty. They gave America the finger.

They should all be impeached, too. Except they would acquit themselves.