EDITORIAL: The GOP has hit bottom

York Dispatch Editorial Board

This is how far the Republican party has fallen:

"We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said."

Thus says Dave Ball, chair of the Washington County GOP committee, speaking about U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to KDKA in Pittsburgh.

After 10 years as a Republican senator representing Pennsylvania, after four years of occasionally speaking against policies but always voting to back up Donald Trump on everything from trying to eliminate "Obamacare" to appointing Supreme Court justices weeks before the election, Toomey finally drew the line last week and broke from the party on the second impeachment of the former president.

Toomey was one of six Republican senators who voted with the Democrats that the Senate did have the constitutional right to try Trump on the articles of impeachment brought by the House of Representatives, and he was one of seven Republicans who then voted to convict Trump. 

For some reason, Toomey thought he could get away with not letting Trump get away with inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6.

Perhaps Toomey took umbrage at Trump's laissez-faire attitude toward Toomey's life and the lives of the others at the U.S. Capitol that day, where five people died. Maybe Toomey didn't enjoy being hustled out of the Senate chamber in the midst of a riot. Maybe he didn't appreciate having insurrectionists rifling through his desk.

Having announced that he will not be running for reelection in 2022, maybe he simply decided he was going to vote his conscience and do the right thing. 

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., departs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, after the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Trump was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the acquittal gives him a historic second victory in the court of impeachment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

More:York County GOP censures Sen. Pat Toomey over impeachment

More:Pennsylvania Republicans might censure Toomey amid backlash

In a statement, Toomey excoriated Trump for a "dishonest, systematic" effort to convince supporters that he had won the election, pressuring state and local officials to reverse the election outcome and, ultimately, summoning thousands of supporters to Washington, D.C., where he "inflamed their passions by repeating disproven allegations about widespread fraud."

"He urged the mob to march on the Capitol for the explicit purpose of preventing Congress and the vice president from formally certifying the results of the presidential election," Toomey said.

Imagine that ... a Republican thinking he could have a mind of his own and not blindly follow Trump and his fanatical mob.

Toomey and the others soon heard from the GOP that this conduct would not be condoned. Censures starting flying, one of the first coming from the York County GOP committee on Sunday, just a day after the vote to convict. 

The resolution's sponsor, state Rep. Dawn Keefer, of Carroll Township, said the county party "has reached the limits of its frustration" with Toomey, complaining that Toomey "sat silently" as Democrats attacked Trump for four years.

Other county GOP committees made similar statements, condemning Toomey for daring to fall out of line with Trump's supporters and shunning him for speaking against their dear leader.

"As far as we're concerned, his political career is over in this state, even if he were to try to run again," Ball said to The Associated Press. "His legacy is tarnished beyond repair."

We could say the same about the Grand Old Party, its legacy stained by a former president who laid waste to America's record of a peaceful transfer of power, among other affronts to our democracy.

When a senator is condemned by his own party for doing the right thing and voting against a man who would have taken the power of the White House by force, it's time for that party to realize it has hit bottom.