Democrats and Republicans must unite in Congress during these next two weeks to impeach President Donald Trump and remove him from office. This step, though drastic, is the best path forward — for the future of both the country and conservatism.

Although last year’s impeachment of the president was unwarranted, based on evidence that was shaky at best and destined to fail, a second impeachment over Trump’s role in the historic events of Jan. 6 is much more likely to result in the president’s removal. Its success would be due, of course, to the much firmer grounds upon which the effort would be based, but it would also come down to a sheer numbers game.

Donald Trump is responsible for the chaos at the Capitol

If Democrats in the House wait to send articles of impeachment to the Senate until after Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in, both parties will have an equal number of seats in the upper chamber. An impeached president can be removed from office only by a two-thirds votes in the Senate, but Democrats would be in a better position than they were just a year ago. And Republicans — most of whom were shaken out of their objections to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden by Wednesday’s violence — would do well to join with their colleagues across the aisle. Here’s why.

For one thing, it’s the right thing to do, for it would be the law well-applied. On the eve of the Electoral College vote and before any violence erupted, I wrote a column that defended a coalition of senators who were using their futile objection to some electors as a means of calling attention to their reasonable proposal to ensure election integrity. Even after Wednesday’s chaos, I still hold to that argument — because the joint statement released by those senators did not use inflammatory language and made no incendiary claims that the election was “stolen.” But in the same column, I condemned those politicians who do use provocative language about election fraud — and the president is chief among them.

Religious leaders call for peace amid election turmoil

There is no doubt that Trump’s rhetoric, both during his “Save America” rally Wednesday and in the months following the election, provoked and contributed to the insurrection that stunned the world. Since many of the president’s more volatile statements and calls to action have already been repeated, for the sake of fairness, I will offer what little defense can be made of his rhetoric. Tucked away in his speech was a single use of the word “peaceful”: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

But one instance of the word does not make up for a whole slate of other provocations. Later, after the violence had begun, he encouraged his supporters to go home peacefully — but the damage had already been done, and one does not acquit a defendant because they walked back their offense after committing it.

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Claims of “sedition” have been tossed around by Democratic lawmakers since the chaos, but I’ll leave it to legal scholars much smarter than this columnist to determine whether those accusations would hold up in court. What is inexcusable is Trump’s refusal to mobilize the National Guard, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to facilitate the coordination. During the delay, the riot continued, leaving five people dead. It is no stretch to suggest that if Trump had acted sooner — both in mobilizing forces to secure the Capitol and in calling, much more forcefully than he eventually did, for his supporters to stand down — lives might have been spared. As even longtime Trump supporter Marc A. Thiessen wrote this week, “He betrayed his office. And now he has blood on his hands.”

Trump’s complicity, even indirect, in the deaths of four of his supporters and a Capitol Police officer should alone be enough for at least 17 Republican senators to vote with their Democratic colleagues for his removal. Let me state that very clearly.

America’s day of disgrace

But Republicans have another reason to vote against Trump’s acquittal: Once impeached and removed, he could easily be legally barred from holding federal office again.

Any 2024 presidential aspirant, including possibly three senators (Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton), couldn’t deny the appeal of a primary without Trump.

But far more important than anyone’s presidential ambitions (though again, not as important as the lawful case for Trump’s impeachment) is this: Trump makes Republicans lose. The fact that Georgia — Georgia — will now have two Democratic senators is testament; as long as Trump’s rants about rigged elections retain a presidential level of influence, voters will stay home, and Republicans will lose. And when Republicans lose, conservative values and policies aren’t represented.

Republicans react to results and resign over riot on Capitol grounds

Of course, justice must be blind, but keep in mind that impeachment proceedings are not so severe as a criminal trial — they only concern whether an official should be removed from office. So to congressional Republicans: Search out the facts. Carefully heed the arguments. And if it becomes clear that Donald Trump has betrayed his office, do not hesitate to respond appropriately — for the good of the nation and the future of the values that sustain it.