Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Republican Cowardice in the Face of Trump

Some - including me on numerous occasions - say that the Republican Party has been completely taken over by Trump and that most Republicans now subscribe to Trump's racist and misogynist agenda.  For many in the GOP the statement is sadly only too true.  For others, rather than stand up and try to save some shred of decency for the Party, they cower in fear and cowardice and allow the reprehensible become increasingly normalized in the GOP.  They fear the Party base and the treat of a primary challenge more than they respect honor and decency. Some fear for Trump's wrath.  Whatever the motivation, the act little better than the "good Germans" who allowed Hitler's rise.  Former Republican David Jolly calls out the cowards of the GOP in a lengthy column in the Washington Post and calls on them to put country first, which is their true duty as members of Congress.  Here are column excerpts:
We might as well impeach Trump. That was the sentiment of a sitting Republican member of Congress confiding in conservative blogger and radio host Erick Erickson. The anonymous member said [Trump] the president was an “idiot,” “evil,” “stupid.”
It was hardly the first time: During the later stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, GOP strategists anonymously expressed concern that Trump might win. In 2017, Sen. Susan Collins, seemingly unaware that she was on a hot microphone, acknowledged that she was “worried” about the administration. Still others have reportedly suggested that they think the president should be removed from office, though they, too, have almost always done so on background.
[T]he one consistent refrain I hear is, “I’m just keeping my head down, trying not to get noticed.” Some have privately described to me that serving in Congress during the Trump administration is “miserable.” Moreover, a colleague who has decided to call it quits confessed he was doing so to try to salvage his political career by not being forever branded a “Trump Republican.”
Like Erickson’s anonymous interlocutor, these politicians are engaging in what can only be considered a personal catharsis of sorts, not an act of political courage. A meaningful political statement would have been on the record, direct to voters, and would have substantively contributed to the national debate in which we remain engaged regarding [Trump's] this president’s fitness for office. This wasn’t that.
Few Republican officials today are willing to openly criticize [Trump] the president, even if they have deeply held reservations about Donald Trump’s ability to govern. They instead keep their lament private, their panic measured and their comments off the record. It’s a situation that needs to change. If you believe in serving your constituents, you are obliged to speak up and speak publicly.
This is Trump’s Republican Party, and his approval numbers among Republican voters sit at close to 90 percent. Cross him and you risk not only the wrath of the president himself but also the electoral base that he has cultivated to wrestle control of the party.
Knowingly or not, members of Congress choose one of two approaches to serving. Many strictly embrace their partisan identity, believing with honest conviction that they promised to uphold a party platform that voters back home both affirmed and expected their representative to enforce. A smaller minority of members of Congress embraces the notion that though elected in partisan races, they hold a greater responsibility — that upon taking the oath of office they hold a public trust and are called upon to advance the nation’s broader interests, even if that means at times going against their party. This latter approach was the very essence of James Madison’s embrace of a republican form of government. As he puts it in Federalist 10, a chosen representative may “best discern the true interest of their country” and may provide a voice “more consonant to the greater good.”
During my years in the House of Representatives, I witnessed members on the Democrats’ side of the aisle publicly vote on the House floor against Nancy Pelosi to be their leader, just as GOP members coordinated to stop the coronation of Kevin McCarthy following the resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner. These members largely lost the support of their party’s fundraising arms, suffered through immense criticism from their base and were often relegated to inconsequential committee work in the Congress.
I, for my own part, called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race from the House floor in December 2015. I was also a Republican advocate for marriage equality; I embraced the science behind climate change; I voted against the Planned Parenthood investigation; I advocated for reasonable gun control measures; I pushed radical campaign finance reform. The result? The party apparatus that spent millions on my behalf in my first run for Congress happily spent zero in my last. I lost my race, and now I’m a political commentator rather than an elected official.
But losing your office doesn’t mean you have to lose your voice. My wife and I call it the “sleep well at night test.” There’s something Margolies-Mezvinsky, McCain and these other outspoken members have that too many of today’s Republican leaders don’t: courage. These members each went on the record, stood on principle and accepted the political consequences of doing what they believed reflected the right direction for the country.
Today we have [Trump] a president who continually undermines our most basic institutions, from attacking an independent judiciary and law enforcement agents, to belittling a free press that has been a bedrock of our nation since its founding, to normalizing an invective form of politics while injecting increasing volatility into both our economic and national security, to flirting with the onset of a constitutional crisis caused by his own actions. 
[F]or the 535 men and women on Capitol Hill, there lies a greater responsibility — a responsibility envisioned when our founders drafted the Constitution and a responsibility knowingly accepted by the members of Congress, all of whom owe to us true faith and allegiance to the same.
Which is why the casual supermarket conversation between a congressman and a journalist on background isn’t funny. It’s scandalous.
The silence of these members of Congress is both a violation of the public trust and a reflection of their own lack of personal and political mettle.
Refusing to publicly acknowledge your convictions simply affirms your unwillingness to act on them. And that is an indictment of you, not [Trump] the president.
History rightfully discards those unwilling to take a stand, those who, in the face of a divided nation, shrink from controversy and seek refuge in the shadows of their own indecision. Conversely, history memorializes those who speak with courage, those who, at defining national moments, put country over party.
Sadly, I think it is too late to save the Republican Party.  The only way forward is to defeat Republicans in every election possible, from local school board elections to the race for the White House.  The GOP as it now exists needs to die. 

No comments: