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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

With Trump beaten, an impeachment trial spotlights MAGA maladies ahead

Then-President Donald Trump tosses MAGA hats at a

Then-President Donald Trump tosses MAGA hats at a Sept. 30 rally in Duluth, Minn. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

Former President Donald Trump is ducking the chance to confront his accusers face to face. This week his actions, his faction and his legacy go on trial at the U.S. Capitol, the scene of the insurrection he allegedly incited.

When the proceedings of Trump's second impeachment trial end, Republicans who remain loyal to a man whose grip on their party may soon weaken — even after he drew more votes than any other losing presidential candidate — will have been forced to go on the record.

Like Trump's first impeachment about a year ago, this will amount to a legally authorized exercise in the Democratic Party's solidarity.

A key question looms: Can the so-called "MAGA movement" survive very long with its catchphrases and slogans already curdling into self-parody?

Some illustrations:

"Law and Order": Watch the videos from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and note the deaths, injuries and property damage to get a full idea of what this phrase really meant to the Trump camp.

"America First": The U.S. leads the world in COVID-19 deaths and cases from a pandemic Trump spent months trying to dismiss while suggesting quack treatments.

"Stop the Steal": The steal that was stopped turned out to be GOP efforts to nullify a record 81 million voters' preference for Joe Biden.

"Lock her up": Think about who from Trump’s 2016 campaign were getting locked up before he pardoned them.

"Build that wall": An incomplete replacement of border barriers featuring a private funding scandal.

"Sleepy Joe": So far Biden seems awake and alert enough to function in the job.

"Snowflakes": An alleged pro-Trump Capitol trespasser in a memorable costume demanded and got organic food in jail and said Trump should have helped him get out of criminal charges.

"Fake news": See the very real multibillion-dollar defamation suits filed against Trump surrogates who baselessly claimed a fix by U.S. voting machine companies.

"Spygate": Not a shred of evidence surfaced that the Obama administration "spied" on Trump's campaign despite all the resources available to the Trump White House.

Trump's past record of business enterprises includes many failures, including bankrupt casinos, a discredited Trump University and a failed football league and team.

Several reactionary movements have gone the same way, The shabby antics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s lasted for five years before Republican colleagues decided they'd seen enough. For that matter, the "Know Nothing" movement crested in the 1850s, and we all know how things worked out for the Confederacy.

Upon departing the White House for Florida for the last time on Jan. 20, Trump said cryptically: "We will be back in some form." Whether he or his adherents regain the momentum to keep a grip on the GOP, or start a new party, or wield elite government power again with the help of new allies, a comeback looks less than probable.

If MAGA were a stock listing, the "smart money" might be on selling about now. The future seems bleak for this Trump "movement." Democrats now in power will try to make it more so.