It is very important to us Freemasons not to talk about politics and religion during our work. Because it holds too much potential for dispute and these topics are highly individual. At least that is the interpretation of this rule today. Masonic researchers say this rule could also have been established in a time when it was simply dangerous to talk about politics and religion. Especially if you had your own opinion. Then you were directly messing with the leading elite or the church. And that was dangerous, especially in the founding days of Freemasonry. I often follow this rule and steer clear of politics and religion in discussions. But not always (as can be seen from one or the other blog here 😉
Today, however, it is not about politics – but about a strategic-tactical view.
Yesterday, the impeachment of Donald Trump was rejected. Too many Republicans voted against it. Some journalists suspect that although they would have liked to vote differently, they couldn’t help it. Because trump had too many voters behind him and because trump had threatened to form his own party in the run-up to the impeachment. I’m not entirely sure, but I think he brought that up earlier as well. But it’s not that important.
So we have an ex-president who got many millions of votes behind him in the run-off election that is common in the US. And who previously helped his party, the Republicans, to governmental power and presidential power. But who, if you look at many of his decisions, did not follow party political interests, but others – his own. I.e. when he was still in power, he did not implement the party programme of the Republicans, but the Republicans adapted their programme, at least partially, to the programme of the president. And they repeatedly backed him, i.e. gave him the necessary votes in the Senate, for example. Because he was their president. Or to put it another way: because you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Now, after his presidency (and the storming of the Capitol), some Republicans are raising their voices against their ex-president. by condemning the storming of the Capitol. Or accusing Trump of inciting the mob.
Immediately after the Democrats announced the impeachment, Trump makes the announcement that he wants to form his own party. Wanting to get away from the Republicans, to take His voters, at least partially, with Him. Away from the Republicans. And what are the Republicans doing in the impeachment process? Even though some of them opposed Trump before? They vote for Trump or against impeachment. It seems to me that the fear of the Trump party, of losing many voters, was too great. So, once again, they would have done what Trump demanded of ‘his’ party. For the sake of power.
Trump’s strategy of intimidating the Republicans through threats has worked at this point. This is where the classic, party-political mechanisms take effect: without power, a party is nothing, because it cannot implement its programme. And without voters, power is nothing. So you do everything to keep the votes.
But will this tactic of the Republicans work? Relationally, have the Republicans who voted against the impeachment actually thought through their tactics to the end? For example, what will happen if Trump wants to stand for election again in 4 years? Will the Republicans, after the experience of the last 4 years and e.g. the storming of the Capitol, make Trump their presidential candidate again? Maybe not. Maybe it is the Republicans’ calculation that Trump will not be elected as candidate in the primaries and that the issue of Trump will then settle itself. Perhaps.
However, this tactic does not take into account Trump and his view of things. For one thing, he will probably use the next 4 years to prepare the Republicans for his next candidacy. And for sure he will -publicly or not- bring the threat of party formation into play again and again.
Whether they like it or not, the Republicans have not moved away from their dependence on Trump with this impeachment process. Rather, they have moved even further into it. Simply because they could not do otherwise. A party has to be in power, has to have votes if it wants to move and change something. Out of this necessity, the Republicans could not help but vote for Trump, for his voters. And presumably Trump knows this too, and knows that the Republicans would have risked far too much had they distanced themselves from him. That they are, without wanting to be, dependent on him. Even if Trump is only concerned about himself and his interests, he has learned enough about strategy and tactics in the economy to be able to continue to bind the Republicans, his party, to him and use them for his own benefit.
This impeachment process was the premature culmination of Trump’s strategy for retaining power. You have to hand it to him: he learned strategy in business.