The verdict is in. Former President Donald Trump has been acquitted. In an unsurprising result, the Senate failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to convict President Trump.
Most senators voted along party lines. However, seven Republicans voted to convict President Trump. In a surprising move, Bill Cassidy, a Republican from deep-red Louisiana, the state in which I have lived my entire life, was among those seven.
Just hours after his vote, the Louisiana GOP unanimously voted to censure Cassidy—apparently for simply voting with his conscience. This move by the Louisiana Republican Party may, unfortunately, be indicative of the direction the GOP is headed in the next four years barring a radical change of course.
According to Cassidy’s own words, he entered the trial with every attempt to act as an “impartial juror,” just as anyone in his position should. He published a short video in response to the backlash. In it, Cassidy argues, “Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”
This is not the first time Cassidy has broken Republican rank in recent months. He also voted to affirm Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, splitting with fellow Louisiana Republican, John Kennedy.
Despite these dissents, Cassidy has historically been a through-and-through Trumpian Republican. In October 2019, President Trump called Cassidy his go-to-guy on healthcare issues. Furthermore, the majority of the senator’s website is laden with pro-Trump positions.
This is why the Louisiana GOP’s censure feels like such a low blow. Cassidy’s entire career, up until January of this year, has shown nothing but party loyalty. It leads one to wonder if the only thing the GOP cares about anymore is preserving the legacy of a less-than-perfect president.
It is simply unfair, and the epitome of conjecture, to project Republican feelings of betrayal after several months of nonstop, devastating losses—from Trump’s electoral loss, to Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley’s inability to convincingly argue for an audit of the election results, to the right-wing assault on the Capitol on January 6th, and a second round of impeachment proceedings—onto a man who has consistently been on their side for the last six years.
But sadly that’s the direction the GOP seems to be headed. Instead of trying to redefine the aura of the party in the wake of mounting political and popular losses, Republicans continue to define themselves in accordance with the emotionality and volatility of the former president’s personality. They do not seem to be inclined to the fair treatment of anyone who breaks their ranks, no matter how close an ally they may have once been.
Even if this second set of impeachment proceedings were doomed to fail from the start, and even if it was nothing but moralistic grandstanding on the part of the Democrats, the Louisiana GOP’s treatment of Cassidy is a shame. It’s petty and reactionary, and it does nothing but discourage thoughtful, honest dissent from any Republicans who may want to seek reelection in the future.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.