Where the Republican Party is

Apparently, for many, it just means backing Trump no matter what.  A couple excellent takes on this recently from that too-rare breed of Republicans with integrity.  First in the National Review, David French (and kudos to them for being more than anti-anti Trump):

Yes, the president may very well try to fire the special counsel. He may try to force out the attorney general. He may grant mass pardons to family members and close aides. While I think it’s unlikely, he may even try to pardon himself.

If he does any one of these things — much less several in combination — the GOP will have to decide, once and for all, if it is an American political party or a craven, fearful instrument of Donald Trump’s personal brand. [emphases mine]

There are very few true-believer Trump allies on Capitol Hill. Sure, there are many folks who are genuinely impressed with the man’s electoral victory and admire his intense connection with his base, but even most of them would admit that he was their last choice in the primaries, that they voted for him because they considered the alternative to be worse, and that the main attraction of his presidency is the chance to pass conservative policies and confirm conservative nominees. They don’t trust him and they don’t like him. But — and this is important — at some level many of them fear him, or at least fear what he could do to their careers.

Fear is a powerful motivator. Here we are, six months into his first term, and aside from the Judge Gorsuch nomination, meaningful conservative victories have been few and far between. Scandals and self-inflicted wounds abound. Planned Parenthood is still funded, Obamacare is still alive, and tax reform is still mainly a pipe dream. Trump has proven that he can and will blow up any and all news cycles at will. He’s proven that he sees loyalty as a one-way street: “You’re for me, and I’m for me.” No matter your record of previous support or friendship, you must do what he wants or face his public wrath. Yet still the GOP wall holds…

Call me pessimistic, but we’re moving toward a political reality where GOP silence and loyal GOP defenses may lead Trump to believe he can do virtually anything and escape accountability. The GOP is enabling his worst instincts. After all, Democratic rage is meaningless to him, and he relishes conflict with the “fake news”–peddling mainstream media. Because of its current capitulations, the GOP may find itself facing a president truly out of control, willing to do or say anything to escape meaningful scrutiny or accountability.

Years from now, GOP leaders will look back on their careers and describe their actions in these crucial days. They’d like to be able to tell their friends, their families, and future historians that they stood for truth. They’d like to be able to say that they did their part to preserve the American republic and defend its constitution. As the days wear on, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they can stand for truth or they can stand for the president.

Either way, we know Trump won’t stand for them.

And Rick Wilson:

To remind my Republican friends for the hundredth time, the Trump base isn’t your base. His supporters hate you as much as Trump hates you. Trump devotees don’t care about shrinking the size and scope of government. They don’t care about the Constitution. They’re not Republicans, except as a flag of convenience. If you haven’t noticed the theme from Fox to Rush and across the rest of the Trump-fanatic clickservative media isn’t “My God, this bill was political death for anyone who voted for it.” Instead, it was “Why won’t Republicans follow Donald Trump over the cliff? What good is a majority if it won’t destroy itself in a vote that 70 percent of the population hates?”

So, to my Republican elected friends, there are a lot of reasons that GOP Trumpism won’t work, but the biggest one is this: Donald Trump hates you. You are, at best, props and extras in “The Apprentice: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” No matter how many times you abase yourself before him, no matter how much you grovel, it will never be enough. The moment you do anything to preserve your own political fortunes, he will turn on you. The moment you deviate from constant service to his colossal ego, you’re going to end up on blast. He has no allies. Only fluffers and foes…

This week we’ve seen Trump in his most loathsome and essential form—an abusive, reckless child demanding more more more and offering not a shred of discipline, loyalty, or responsibility in return. Mommy and daddy in this case are a House and Senate willing to overlook Little Donnie’s propensity to kill small animals, set fires, and mutter darkly about how he’s going to teach the other kids at school a lesson they won’t forget.

In the meantime, how’s that wall coming? [emphasis mine]

Damn, some nice truth-to-power from both.  Really, it is incredibly eye-opening and distressing to see just how easily our democracy can come to such a low and dangerous point.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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