The Future Of Trumpism

There’s little point in reiterating the obvious–that the insurrection at the nation’s Capitol represented a “security failure” that was very likely abetted by Trump sympathizers within the system. As an article in the usually staid and circumspect Foreign Affairs put it,

Law enforcement, which uses a heavy hand against Black Lives Matter protesters and prepares carefully to stop possible al Qaeda attacks, was apparently unprepared for the mix of white supremacists, anti-government extremists, conspiracy theorists, and other pro-Trump supporters who openly organized to “burn DC to the ground” to overturn an election at the behest of the president. Although it’s too early to point fingers, the Capitol Police and other security forces clearly have some explaining to do.

The ingredients of what we have come to call “Trumpism” are varied and complicated. Although virtually all of those ingredients include racist grievances, other social ills cause racial grievances to grow and metastasize. America’s gaping economic divide is certainly one of those, as is our demonstrably inadequate social safety net. (The irony here is that unwillingness to extend social welfare services to “those people” is a major reason for America’s lack of such a safety net. It’s all intertwined.)

Trumpism’s future will depend in large measure on whether the Biden Administration and those that succeed it can repair the major holes in our national fabric–not simply existing economic policies that are wildly favorable to those who are already well-off, but a range of  failings in areas as disparate as civic education, regulation of digital platforms, policing, environmental justice, and especially election laws.

People who have grievances– legitimate or not–are ripe for induction into what we might call the lost cause brigade. A recent New York Times op-ed by a historian issued that warning. She drew parallels between Trump’s lost cause and that of the Confederacy in 1865, and between Lee’s rhetoric after the South’s defeat and Trump’s.

Mr. Trump’s lost cause mirrors that of Lee’s. His dedicated followers do not see him as having failed them, but as a man who was failed by others. Mr. Trump best represents their values — even those of white supremacy — and the cause he represents is their cause, too. Just as Lee helped lead and sustain the Confederacy over four years, Mr. Trump has also been a sort of general — in a campaign of disinformation.

The author warned of the “dangerous consciousness” of Trump’s supporters, and predicted that– like Lee’s Lost Cause– it will not likely end. When Lee died just five years after the Civil War, the mythology about Confederate defeat was already growing exponentially. “The Lost Cause did not belong to Lee; Lee belonged to the Lost Cause — a cultural phenomenon whose momentum could not be stopped.”

Trump’s lost cause is the mythology he has created about voter fraud and fake news. Right now, that mythology is a “cultural and political phenomenon that shows no sign of ending,” because it has been aided and abetted by Republican members of Congress.

Whether the dire predictions in the Times column prove accurate will depend to a considerable degree on whether we can rein in a digital world still in its technological and cultural infancy. The ability of racists, conspiracy theorists and other lunatics to use the Internet to find each other and plan insurrections is more than worrisome, but there are also signs that the data they relinquish can be used to hold them accountable.

Apparently, before Parler was taken offline, a group of hackers captured  the personal data of upwards of  12 million of its users– white supremacists, QAnon adherents, Trumpists,  armed insurgents. ( Despite promises of anonymity, Parler was considerably less solicitous of users’ privacy than Facebook.)  Videos posted to the site captured GPS coordinates and the identities of rioters who carried their phones.  Hackers reportedly captured up to 70 terabytes of data, including users’ driver’s licenses, geolocations, deleted messages, and  videos.

What information technology will ultimately change, destroy or privilege is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps the most important predictor of Trumpism’s future, however, is whether America can finally eliminate gerrymandering. As Talking Points Memo reminds us:

It’s no coincidence that the vast preponderance of those who incited the insurrection by objecting to the counting of electoral votes were politicians who owed their perpetual re-election to gerrymandering. 

Granted, Trump owed his electoral success to the Electoral College, “a system that privileges a handful of unrepresentative swing states and renders the rest of the nation functionally irrelevant.” But the vast majority of Congressional Republicans who incited the insurrection owed their perpetual re-election to the gerrymandering that protects them from democratic backlash–but not from farther-right primary opposition.

Defeating Trumpism absolutely requires eliminating gerrymandering.


  1. Timely and privative post, Sheila. I believe there is an extraordinary opportunity for the incoming Biden Administration to consider appointing a bi-partisan commission whose membership includes both public and private sector leadership to engage a comprehensive strategy for rebuilding citizen confidence in good governance, integrity of the electoral process, and the moral authority of law and order.

  2. Correction …. prococative, not privative. Over guessing technology correcting author intent very annoying.

  3. The “Lost Cause” of the Confederates is consistent with the “Stab in the Back” slogan the Nazis used to find a scapegoat for Germany’s loss in WWI. And the tactics used by the Trumpsters resemble those of Hitler’s Brown Shirts.

  4. “There’s little point in reiterating the obvious–that the insurrection at the nation’s Capitol represented a “security failure” that was very likely abetted by Trump sympathizers within the system.”

    “Little point in reiterating the obvious….”? When according to Representative Mikie Sherrill in her interview with Rachel Maddow last night that there is an ongoing investigation into her report on January 5th regarding suspicious groups touring the Capitol building. She did not describe people or name the agency investigating because it is an ongoing investigation. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, all tours of the Capitol had been stopped, the groups she reported being led on tours could ONLY be guests of members of Congress or their staff. Her request for investigation was given by letter to the acting House Sergeant at Arms, the acting Senate Sergeant at Arms and the U.S. Capitol police. Rep. Sherrill, a military veteran, stated the tours appeared to her to be “a reconnaissance for the next day”. The next day was January 6, 2021; the day of Trump’s insurrection of our government.

    “The ingredients of what we have come to call “Trumpism” are varied and complicated.”

    Rep. Sherrill’s astute observations due to military training and her request for an investigation before the fact of the insurrection are not complicated but point to how deeply buried in our government Trumpism is and using Amendment XIV, Section 3 needs to be added to the 2nd Trump impeachment or Trumpism will remain an active part of this government and strengthen their gerrymandering hold on all states.

    Another major issue of Trumpism; how many “acting” heads of all departments and agencies will Trump leave behind? Joe and Kamala will be walking into the bowels of hell on January 20th with as much presidential work left undone as what has been destroyed by Trumpism the past four years.

  5. Let’s not forget the role churches play in the spread of Trumpism. Especially the so-called “non-denominational” type of churches. They adhere to no established rules of conduct normally expected from traditional church organizations. Refusing to be part of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, these outlets make up their own rules. And sadly, it seems there is one of this type of church around every corner in every neighborhood. Mixing right-wing political ideology with narrow-minded religious dogma is the perfect recipe for disaster. Trump is there hero. Religious freedom must be protected, however, the FBI would be wise to monitor the political ideology hidden in the sermons.

  6. Divide. Isolate. Repeat until symptoms are gone.

    All the anti-gerrymandering, income-redistribution, labor and environmental protections and civics-education programs will produce long-term benefits to the health of the Republic and its citizens but in the short run the building is on fire and the fire must be extinguished! The community of MAGAt anti-democratic extremists is MUCH larger and better organized than anyone imagined and may possibly still be growing. They will find a way to stay connected digitally as there is simply too much money to be made serving their needs.

    Democrats CANNOT afford to repeat the mistake of 2009-2010 – that of spending limited political capital on a very unpopular economic recovery program and expanding the safety-net (ACA) and little effort on expanding the hold on power. HR1 and related legislation MUST be passed early and vigorously defended in the courts. The blue majorities in the House and Senate CANNOT shrink, not by even ONE SEAT!!

    The anti-democratic opposition simply must be overcome politically and for the long haul. Anything less greatly increases the odds that our grandchildren will live in tyranny. If that’s not obvious by now it never will be.

  7. Haven’t we already found that the Trumpets aren’t suffering from a lack of income? Their issues won’t be addressed by economic equality. They will simply be reinforced in their belief that everything they earn is being given away to “those people” by the snowflake libtards.

  8. see Bill Moyers in conversation with H.R.Cox. also,theres a cgi pic in black and white of Rod Serling in the oval office with trump at the desk. Qanon should adopt this for its letterhead. and if we didnt ecpect this riot in DC, we did. of course as im listening to c spans free speach stage,being taken by republicans who deny this happened,and why,it happened. cruz dripped blood the same day telling me what happened,didnt. mcconnel isnt opening the senate for a accountable vote, trumps illusions are guarenteed now. mcconnel like trump,fully complacent and accountable for every slick move made against our nation since his seating as head of the senate. trump the carney barker waits for the south dist manhatten n.y. fed prosicutors office to indict finally on his past,and given fuel to support it from his derlection of duties. i see mcconnel has chief instigator to the ongoing demise of our nations democracy for his personal gain,along with those who aligned themselves with him. few if any words have condemmed the ongoing tripe trump spewed,while mcconnel marched on for the rich and crushed the voice of the working class and allowed carney man to run his interference pattern for a sizeable return. the fact that any,corprate entity has allowed this crap to ferment and spew its anti democracy hate,is testamonial to how the rich,wall street and the investor has denied a decent living standard to those who work,and money to fight this sham,and has only given rise to a authortarian regime. the electorial college serves to show gamesmanship,where governing has now been used as a weapon,to support this ongoing insurrection,basically from one party.. mcconnel is happy with his power to deny and judge as he sees fit. those who gerrymandered and elected him,hold them accountable for this too. and if we ignore the issue as we may think its all part of the system,may i suggest you find a like country they want to establish,and relocate,start a go fund me page,for them.

  9. And then there is racism.
    How now should the country deal with that? It straddles the entire political spectrum, is engrained in every part of society, has etched every heart. There are indeed some measures that the government can enact, but until the vast majority of the population decides that we, each of us, must take charge of our own prejudices, the divisiveness in this country will remain.

  10. Y’all know…Stacey Abrams and crew don’t sit around whining about “Trumpism” and saying that America will die if major structural changes (never easy, close to impossible in this climate) aren’t made immediately. No…they go to WORK on the ground, knowing firm incremental steps are where change happens.

  11. You know,

    Every American citizen no matter the stripe is looking for a little bit of that “pound of flesh” or, everyone would like to have their cake and eat it too.

    But, what happens when you feed the beast? You keep feeding it, the beast get stronger, and the master gets weaker. Eventually, just like Dr. Frankenstein learned, and the students of that sort of history learned recently, when the monster gets stronger, you can’t control it!

    The cyclical nature of human history points to many Dr. Frankenstein’s monsters. Inflection points to where alternate realities misled large swaths of citizenry to play Russian roulette with more than one round in the chamber.

    It’s almost like watching Dr. Strangelove, the doctors right hand kept trying to give the heil Hitler salute, he couldn’t control the actions of his right hand, he fought with it constantly, very symbolic, and in the end, seemed to assist in the annihilation of civilization!

    If we tell everyone to hang on a little bit until we get all of this other stuff cleared up, all of this will have been for naught, and, just like a really bad infection one would have to take antibiotics for, if you don’t finish the regimen, that infection will come back 10 times stronger and be impervious to antibiotics!

    Infrastructure, stimulus, food, healthcare, jobs, housing, the safety net, these things should have priority. That’s why, the justice department and its new AG should be left ferreting out the corruption and prosecuting those who are guilty of sedition or treason! Those who are found guilty through the Justice Department of insurrection, should get the maximum punishment available.

    What was the old mantra for how long? Ignorance of the law is no excuse! Well, that’s true. Everyone doesn’t have the chameleon-esque qualities of a Lindsey Graham, which sways with the breeze! Always with his finger in the air like a true patriotic coward.

    So, best take care of the people 1st! The rest needs to be handled by those best suited to handle it, and not use Congress as a big public display of partisan politics. And, I don’t care how deep you dig, you are not going to eradicate an idea! The Germans got their Nazi ideas from the United States and Britain, so, why would we think this mentality can be eliminated from our society?

    Have you ever opened a bottle of very old fine wine? If you shake it, the dregs wash through the wine and sometimes it has to be filtered. Well, the dregs of society are always at the bottom waiting to be stirred. RIght now they’ve been shaken off of the bottom, but they can never be eliminated from the societal body! So then, we need to keep that societal body from being shaken and the dregs from being stirred. It’s an impossible task with today’s tool chest available to every single lunatic on the planet.

    Sad to say, humanity is stupid and incapable of conducting itself compassionately towards the greater good of his fellow man on any consistent basis. So, in months or years or a few decades, this will be back 10 times stronger, and prove to be societies wrecking ball.

  12. Partisan gerrymandering by the Republican Party, and its opposition to reform, is the root of all (or at least most) that ails our republic.

  13. Bill – check your history. DEMs have done lots of gerrymandering in their time. This is NOT a partisan issue. It is about public servants v/s “pols”.

  14. I can’t wait for the investigation of seated Congressional members who conducted a recon operation for the insurrectionist leaders to come to light. I’m betting a cup of coffee that the seditionist Lauren Boebert will be among those. I think those “actions” might result in indictments for treason: aiding and abetting an enemy of the government.

  15. Gerrymandering is a state controlled issue-not a federal controlled issue. Fifty states each with its own agenda. Now Congress can create a law that must be tied to the present use of computer apps that can create incredible apportions that defy reason or with the same apps create districts that have the geographic shortest land perimeters.
    That would reduce the gerrymandering. That does not keep almost 2/3 of the Indiana voters backing Trump or the next psuedo- dictator.

    The more sinister issue IMO is ‘dark money’. Both people and organizations should have the freedom to advocate both political issues and politicians. Critically, the financial support MUST BE TRANSPARENT. As the laws stand today any one person, government or organization honest/evil/citizen/alien can support any person/issue that can be detrimental to the USA and its citizens. The Supreme Court implicitly stated that Congress can eliminate those PACs.

    The Electoral College will not go away. The only practical way to reduce the impact of 35% of the voting populace can control the Presidential Elections is to enlarge the House of Representatives. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 created 435 House seats with 60% of the present national population. Lots of screams that Cal. & NY will control the USA while Texas (ultra Republican) and Florida(moderately Republican) are the 2nd and 3rd most populace states-not NY which is 4th and shrinking. A formula exists that will allow about 150 more House seats to create a balanced representative population throughout the fifty states.

  16. Yes, we need to get rid of politicized gerrymandering. Both parties are guilty. It will be a state by state battle. Some states will divide up the electoral votes in accord with the percentage of people who voted for one candidate or another. That might be the best way to offset it.

    Every elected official should be reminded often that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Sen.Ben Sasse believes the Senate should have term limits. I agree.

  17. The tendrils of this plot are so much deeper than we knew! What would happen if we didn’t have stalwart Democrats standing in the way of these seditionists? People like Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and Chuck Schumer are so critically important. When people who stand against insurrection are receiving death threats–their courage will be remembered!

  18. I don’t like the term “security failure”. It implies well-meaning incompetence. I prefer “security double-cross”.

  19. Awake and Aware–two weeks ago I sent a msg to Joe Scarborough on the exact same thing you just posted. They were talking about how the loss of attending social clubs like the Moose Lodge and the lower attendance in churches have contributed to all of us hunkering in our ‘bubbles’ and I had to write in a say “BS”. I know he was raised Baptist and from the South but buddy has been in DC a LONG time. I lived 45 years in Indiana and just moved to outskirts of Tennessee and churches are still very pivotal. For the past 4 years you could not drive by one of these Evangelical, non-denominational or Southern Baptist churches without their road sign stating “Keep America Great Again”.

    They all really see Trump as being sent to them by God and that Democrats are going to hell and you can’t be a Christian and be a Democrat. I have been told that for decades. I made it to the front page of the Indy Star when Obama was running for office for my poster–one side said ‘Indiana has Democrats too’ and the other side said ‘I am a Chrisitian and a Democrat’

    Driving around in Plainfield, IN and serving on their board the older gentleman were sincerely worried for my life for my Obama bumper stickers and yard signs and that continues here in Tennessee.

    When I hear how all these Republican Congress folks are now worried about their lives for the fury they have assisted in ramping up–they are not getting any tears from me. They are now being threatened by the same folks that have been threatening to injure or kill Democrats because we are Democrats. Grow a pair of breasticles!

  20. “As disparate as” did not include what I consider to be (next to Trump & the virus) the biggest domestic problem we have, to wit: wage and wealth inequality. Racism and easy access to opinionate are certainly a part of the “disparate,” but what if, for instance, we had a wealth tax specifically designed to end poverty in this country, a 20 dollar minimum wage (Geneva, Switzerland, has a 25 dollar minimum wage), and a monthly Andrew Yang stipend in addition thereto. Perhaps “those other people” would be welcomed in the neighborhood by those who were formerly fearful of their status since each and all would be freed from the dreaded “welfare” tag and “those other people” would perchance soon be active in school board meetings and sporting Ivy League pedigrees.

    Racism might well wane as a result of such economic arrangements, and by ending poverty and creating an affluent middle class we will have in turn assured ourselves of greatly increased revenues to government and a booming aggregate demand which in further turn would compensate the rich and corporate class for their sharing of the income and wealth of our economy with the rest of us.

    Pie in the sky? Can’t afford it? False. It’s OUR economy, and all it takes is a rearrangement of priorities in how and to what degree all of us are to be represented in a “market” process in which we are currently rewarding the rich and corporate class (and their financiers) with all of the wealth and most of the income our economy generates. ANY economic arrangement is SOME arrangement, all such arrangements can be amended as experience dictates, and capitalism with its present system of gobbling up all the wealth and nearly all of the income our economy produces is ripe for amendment.

    Socialism? No, fair play. The current system is socialism for the rich under the pretense of free market ideology and a $7.25 minimum wage that hasn’t been adjusted for over eleven years – and while, unsurprisingly, the Dow has gone into the stratosphere on the backs of such wage theft and tax coddling. So end the present mix of socialism and capitalism which defines our economy? No, just provide a fairer and more equitable distribution of the wealth and income that our economy produces (and perhaps deal a blow to other social ills in the process, such as class, race etc.

  21. For the only time that I remember I agree with Mitch McConnell. Until we brighten the line between Presidential behavior that is impeachable vs merely political the Republican Party will be regarded as an unholy unmanageable and out of control amalgam of conservatism and anarchy to the detriment of both.

    Trump has to be publicly thrown overboard for them to be seen as viable. Every time a Republican tries to defend insurrection the confusion and irrelevance will grow.

  22. For those who like facts, in 2018, 391 state legislature seats flipped to Dem, 93 the other way. In 2020, 78 flipped Dem, 215 the other way. “They “ aren’t going away…

  23. I have to agree with Gerald here, there’s plenty of socialism in the United States already for the wealthy. The little bit that’s trickled down to the average citizen the GOP has tried to eviscerate from the beginning. From Social Security, to Medicare, and the ACA!

    Republican presidents were responsible for raiding the social Security trust fund and using it for personal clandestine slush funds, enter Ronald reagan, and, the GOP support of citizens united, massive tax cuts for the wealthy putting the burden more on the middle class, the refusal to raise minimum wage, and a litany of other entrenched Republican dogma.

    They claim to be populist but they are really wolves and sheeps clothing!

    Looking at these Republicans talking about Donald Trump today is really disgusting. Now they want Biden to tell the Democrats to lay off Trump! Hopefully he takes the reins off of Merrick Garland and he eviscerates the guy!

    I think McConnell lured our beloved knuckleheads into another spider’s web anyway, because he knows that they’re not going to convict Trump of anything, but it will tie up Congress! That’s why they shouldn’t submit those articles to the Senate until he gets his agenda rolling. Or, just leave it as it is and and reserve the right to submit those articles to the Senate at any time.

    The warning is there, if they mess around and lose the advantage whenever these Georgia senators are certified, they probably are not going to have another opportunity. That’s why they need to expand the senatorial college! Puerto rico, Washington dc, maybe even Guam and American samoa! Anywhere from four to eight 00 senators mostly democrat! Huge infrastructure programs, huge public works projects, minimum wage, making at least an associate’s degree part of standard education, city colleges free just like public schools, interest-free Masters and doctorate programs! I mean, the list can go on and on where they could increase themselves to everyone struggling in this country. But if they get caught up lasered in towards Trump, then they’re going to look like a bunch of buffoons!

    I’m leaning towards the buffoonery angle myself. Because I really can’t see the playing field being leveled for black Americans nor large swaths of Latino and Asian americans.

    The Romans had the bread and circuses that didn’t last long and those that they hired to be their military wing, the Huns, learned from the Romans and then sacked rome.

    Do your research on all of the major world powers throughout history, the Mesopotamians, the Babylonians, the Meads and Persians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Brits and then the Americans, all going down the same path, they all are repeating and have repeated the mistakes of their predecessors, always to their detriment and demise. Never really conquered from the outside, always disintegrated from the inside!

    Humanity is incapable of learning from history, therefore will continuously repeat it until humanity is no longer an issue on this planet!

  24. It’s possible we are just beating our gums about solving the myriad problems that Trump transported from the dark side into the open. Maybe focusing on how to contain them would be time better spent. What I mean is that a significant portion of the world’s population addresses problems and makes choices based not on how they think about an issue or what they know about it, but on how they feel about it. And how they feel is based on so much personal history that it’s hardly worth even beginning to explore. And even if we could pinpoint fundamental causes for deviant (illogical or unreasonable) thinking, it’s next to impossible to change. Somehow, even with suspect approaches, they’ve survived well enough to conclude that how they approach problems works for them on some acceptable level. When they are told that their bad choices are o.k. by a leader they admire, their life is about as good as it’s going to get.

    If you buy that making feelers think is very difficult, and that changing anything about anybody is mostly a futile effort, then the way we think about the biggest existential challenges shifts. Instead of how to fix them, we can concentrate on safeguards to detect and deal with the difficulties we know we will confront. Accepting an issue as a forever problem frees us, also, from the frustration of our inability to repair humpty dumpty.

    Take conspiracy theories as an example. Accepting that they are a more or less permanent way for self-pitying people to communicate, we dedicate our resources to detecting them and imposing penalties severe enough to deter would-be perpetrators rather than pondering how to eliminate them. Of course a little interdiction, such as convincing evil geniuses like Zuckerberg to stand down even if it cost them a few bucks, would prove helpful.

  25. File this under “brotherly love Republican style”.
    Yesterday, Congressman Greg Pence, brother of the Vice President, voted NOT to impeach Donald Trump even though on January 6th a mob of insurrectionist inspired by Trump yelled “Hang Mike Pence” as they tore through the Capitol building. They even had a scaffold ready.

  26. Gerald:
    first thing is,to get a living wage.. the profit margins in investments,and everyday items we use,are the edge of a iceburg. the powers in DC have for 40 years gerrymandered the rich,to be elected. in a path through the elected. ALEC,reagan,unions labor rights,and the working class,and greed are the game. how much can we,the rich, take, from your pocket,and make ya feel good without the grease. I admire Mrs Adams for her make it and break it,motivation. the following she has,were not majority voters,she woke up the base that has literally been kick to the curb. we need some of this, but, im sure the motivation was truth,and why(how do we overcome sarcasm in our thoughts about the elected). we still have a menace in wall,street, and that alone is the reason why,we dont have a living wage,or health care,that wall street bennifits from when were all working hard for the screwing. the EPI and others in recent research,confirms, that the 1% has more than the bottom 50% in America.. tell me again how and why,wall street didnt make it that way?

  27. Trump will get convicted by Republicans as all of the investigations reveal the details over four years of his creation and his contribution to it. It will be done as the country sees again rather than just remembers life under Obama only this time as a white man.

    Trump is moving towards being shown as an albatross that the GOP cannot afford no matter what they wish to be true.

    We know the pain Democrats have felt over the last four years and now we will see the Republicans, fully “woke”, feeling the weight of what they can no longer deny.

  28. “Mixing right-wing political ideology with narrow-minded religious dogma is the perfect recipe for disaster. Trump is there hero. Religious freedom must be protected, however, the FBI would be wise to monitor the political ideology hidden in the sermons.”
    I have, for ages, and ages, been a big fan of the separation of church and state, what AWAKE points to is a simmering mix of toxins that feed bigotry and racism, and the two dogmas conjoin, like a chimeric monster.

  29. 2022 will be key,

    so, again quoting Joe Hill “Don’t mourn; organize.”

    Lester – two words — right on!

  30. There is also a second lesser known part to the process of the impeachment trial. In the Senate they have to have a 2/3 majority to remove the person from office, but there is a second step, and that is a simple majority vote to keep that person from ever holding a Federal office again.

    My personal feelings are that Trump has been trying to cheat on the election since his first impeachment a year ago when he tried to solicit foreign influence. He tried to disrupt our democracy by inciting a crowd of supporters to attack the capital. He needs to know his words have consequences and he is responsible for the consequences. People died because of his continued lies. Even though Trump will not be in office after 1/20/2021, stopping him from ever running again may be enough to defang him.

    The next few weeks and years will be interesting.

    From the NY Times:

    But Article I, Section 3 says more. In describing the powers of the Senate to conduct an impeachment trial, it provides that “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States” (emphasis added).
    That latter clause is the key, because it drives home that the Senate has two decisions to make in impeachment cases: First, it must decide whether an officer should be removed. Then it must decide whether this person should be disqualified from holding any future federal office. Indeed, of the eight officers the Senate has ever voted to remove, it subsequently voted to disqualify only three of them — reinforcing that removal and disqualification are separate inquiries. And as this procedure and historical practice make clear, by the time the Senate votes on disqualification, the officer has already been removed. In other words, disqualification, at least, is itself necessarily a vote about a former (as opposed to current) officer.
    More than that, the disqualification power is both the primary evidence of and the central reason the Constitution allows for the impeachment of former officers. Were it otherwise, an officer facing impeachment, or an officer who has already been impeached and is about to be removed, could also avoid disqualification simply by resigning. In 1876, disgraced Secretary of War William Belknap tried exactly that — resigning minutes before the House vote on his impeachment. The House impeached him anyway, concluding that his resignation did not defeat Congress’s impeachment power. And although some senators ultimately voted to acquit Belknap (who narrowly escaped a guilty verdict) because he was no longer in office, the Senate as a body first concluded that it had the power to try former officers, adopting a resolution that Belknap could be tried “for acts done as Secretary of War, notwithstanding his resignation of said office” before he was impeached.
    The Belknap case cemented two precedents: Congress can impeach and remove former officers, but the fact that the defendant is no longer in office is one factor that senators may take into account in deciding whether to vote to convict. So, when President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 in an effort to forestall his seemingly inevitable impeachment and removal, that act did not deprive Congress of the constitutional power to still impeach, remove and disqualify him; it merely mitigated the perceived political expediency of doing so. By resigning, Mr. Nixon took at least some responsibility for his conduct. And the circumstances of his resignation left no reason to believe that he would ever again be a candidate for federal office.
    But there is no indication that Mr. Trump plans to resign. His term ends next Wednesday only because Section 1 of the 20th Amendment says so. He is not going willingly. And he has made no secret of his interest in running for president again in 2024. What’s more, under the Former Presidents Act of 1958, he stands to receive significant financial and other tangible benefits, including a handsome annual stipend, funds for offices and a staff, and a pension. But that same statute denies such benefits to a former president who was removed “pursuant to Section 4 of Article II of the Constitution.” So whether Mr. Trump is impeached, convicted and disqualified determines not only whether he could ever again hold federal office but may also bear upon the extent to which federal taxpayers will be subsidizing his activities in the years to come.
    Opinion | Why Trump Can Be Convicted Even as an Ex-President

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