The Republican Gamble

Loved this frame from TNR’s Brian Beutler.  I think it really captures the dynamic within the Republican party:

With almost no exceptions, Republicans on Capitol Hill have ignored all of this [Trump’s conflicts of interest, obvious instability, baldfaced lies, etc.]—not because they aren’t alarmed, but because they’ve decided that acting to constrain Trump now would be inconvenient. Trump is effectively testing, increment by increment, how much damage to democracy Republicans will tolerate in pursuit of right-wing ideological goals. We are watching that test play out in real time, and the only question now is whether the GOP’s gamble will pay off, or fail catastrophically before they have a chance to accomplish anything…

There are multiple incentives inhibiting Republicans from acting to contain Trump right now. Trump is more popular among GOP voters than many elected Republicans are within their own states and districts. Those who might otherwise be inclined to rein Trump in might also be disinclined to sow division within the party before they’ve even claimed their new majority.

But the zen mantra on Capitol Hill isn’t about Trump or party unity per se, but the regressive tax cuts and restored Supreme Court dominance his victory portends. Republicans have led the country into a terrifying funhouse, but are taking solace in the faith that everyone will emerge from it unscathed after they’ve secured their election spoils.

As the cavalcade of disgraces accelerates, this bet looks more and more reckless. Republicans may never find it within themselves to treat Trump’s embarrassments and corruption with the alarm they deserve, but they are almost certainly not going to rein him in before he sends them an acceptably Scalia-like Supreme Court nominee and signs their tax cuts.

These processes could take weeks or months, though. The scope of damage a corrupt, retributive, erratic president could do with weeks or months of unfettered power—unconstrained by any meaningful legislative check—is nausea-inducing. [emphasis mine]

Yep.  Sure, he may be a xenophobic, sexist, racist demagogue who is clearly temperamentally unsuited to the demands of the modern presidency, but come on now, obviously, the future of the country is far more dependent upon lower taxes for rich people and a lasting 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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