Former President Donald J. Trump is the first to earn the distinction of being impeached twice. He now faces his second punishment trial in the Senate.

He and Republican senators will bloviate about speculative constitutional principles, but the real principle many hold is that the world will change if they are not reelected. They are not afraid of Democrats; they are afraid of being “primaried” by more extreme far-right candidates cultivated by Trump.

A new poll by The Hill found that 64% of Republicans would join Trump if he were to start his own political party. A lot could change before that happens, and 36 percent of those polled said they would be “very” or “somewhat” unlikely to defect for a Trump party. But how realistic is it to expect a ground-shaking Republican split? And what would it mean for Trump to garner 28% of independents and 15 % of Democrats, as the research also reports?

If Trump is actually convicted by the Senate, the Republican Party might theoretically unite behind one of his children to bear the Trump torch. Don Jr. has vowed to dog Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming in her August 2022 primary to punish her for her principled vote to impeach Trump. Cheney is but one lawmaker choosing her own path, at personal risk, and urging fellows to "be the party of truth."

But Trump Junior may not have the razzle-dazzle appeal of his father. Trump Junior dog-whistled to Three Percenters Militia when he wore their skull logo that was later seen among the crowd at the Capitol invasion riot. FBI is investigating Three Percenters as formidably tied to the riot. And the D.C. attorney general is investigating a million dollars missing from the Trump Inauguration Committee. Research indicates Trump Junior may be facing his own legal troubles for his role in the inauguration. Don Jr. may not be the ideal candidate, despite his last name.

Some pundits wonder whether the basic human urge to cooperate overwhelms the inclination to ruthlessly act in our own self-interest. The Hill likens the Trump impeachment scenario to "The Prisoner’s Dilemma" in classic game theory, or specifically, “What if you know someone voted against you in a previous round of play, and can choose to betray or cooperate, based on previous experience?” Imagine facing-off against a poisonous snake. You just have one chance to protect the children playing in your yard. If you fail to neutralize it on the first blow, it will either deliver a mortal bite or slither off to leave you in stressful vigil for everyone’s safety from that day forward.

Trump is that snake. For months, he perpetrated The Big Lie that the only way he could lose the election was if the Democrats “stole” it. Thousands of Trump acolytes showed up for his “stop the steal” rally on Jan. 6, wherein Trump lit the fuse in his speech to the mob. They did exactly what he said: “Stop the steal” by invading the Capitol to render chaos so Biden wouldn’t be certified as election winner.

History is in the hands of Republican senators, at least 17 of whom must vote with Democrats to prevent Trump from stealthily continuing on the campaign trail to his dynasty. American voters pray that won’t happen. Both impeachments have been about Trump's implanting himself as the permanent dictator of America. If that happens, America is done for.

Senate Republicans must vote for impeachment, for voters and in defense of the Constitution, because as soon as he can replace them, their seats will be held by his hand-picked replacements. It comes late, but the damage will be worse if not done.

Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.

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