The Wages Of Cowardice

What explains the chaos/civil war in the GOP?

I’ll admit that I haven’t always been a Mit Romney fan–I really didn’t pay much attention to him until his infamous “47% “takers” remark, and that gave me a very negative opinion of him. (I’m also not a fan of the “makers versus takers” view of the world.)

That said, he has steadily risen in my opinion, thanks to his vote to impeach Trump, and–along with his announcement that he will not run for a second Senate term– his willingness to be honest about the current GOP.

Romney has said publicly what most observers have long surmised–that the more rational members of the Senate’s Republican caucus share his disdain for Trump. They recognize Trump’s profound ignorance. They laugh at his ungrammatical pronouncements. They shake their heads over his “policy” choices.

But not in public.

Rarely have We the People been treated to a display of utter cowardice equal to that we are currently experiencing. As David French has written in the New York Times, the Republican Senators who refused to do their constitutional duty and vote to impeach

punted their responsibilities to the American legal system. As Mitch McConnell said when he voted to acquit Trump, “We have a criminal justice system in this country.” Yet not even a successful prosecution and felony conviction — on any of the charges against him, in any of the multiple venues — can disqualify Trump from serving as president. Because of G.O.P. cowardice, our nation is genuinely facing the possibility of a president’s taking the oath of office while also appealing one or more substantial prison sentences.

The GOP appears to be stuck with Trump, a candidate recently–and accurately– described by Jennifer Rubin as “unhinged, vengeful, incoherent, dangerous and neo-fascist.”)

French began his column by agreeing with a recent, densely-argued law review article concluding that the clear language of the 14th Amendment–if applied–disqualifies Trump (or any other traitor) from holding further public office. He then acknowledged the realities of trying to enforce that disqualification–and the likelihood that the current Supreme Court would refuse to intervene if the attempt were to be made.

While I believe the court should intervene even if the hour is late, it’s worth remembering that it would face this decision only because of the comprehensive failure of congressional Republicans. Let me be specific. There was never any way to remove Trump from American politics through the Democratic Party alone. Ending Trump’s political career required Republican cooperation, and Republicans have shirked their constitutional duties, sometimes through sheer cowardice. They have punted their responsibilities to other branches of government or simply shrunk back in fear of the consequences…

And then, of course, there’s Congress, where GOP members are in thrall to their crazy caucus.

For many of them, the answer lies in raw fear. First, there is the simple political fear of losing a House or Senate seat. In polarized, gerrymandered America, all too many Republican politicians face political risk only from their right…

Mitt Romney has pointed to a different fear: physical harm to a lawmaker’s person or family. The Trumpist cult that now controls what was once a political party is capable of real violence, and several elected officials are reacting to explicit threats from members of that cult.

The problem is, appeasement never works, as Kevin McCarthy now understands. Cowardice simply encourages the mob mentality that animates today’s GOP. As French reminds readers,

A fundamental reality of human existence is that vice often leaves virtue with few good options. Evil men can attach catastrophic risks to virtually any course of action, however admirable. But we can and should learn lessons from history. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of our greatest presidents, both faced insurrectionary movements, and their example should teach us today.

As French says, people of character and conviction once inhabited the American political class, and those people gave us the tools to defend the American experiment. He says that “All we need is the will.”

We won’t have “the will,” however, until and unless we elevate better people to office. In Indiana, we have empowered a number of people whose intellectual and moral deficits and lack of concern for the Constitution and the public good make them utterly unfit for any public office.

We have our smarmy, “me myself and I” actors (Rokita, Braun), our looney-tunes, bigoted far-Right culture warriors (Banks) and the cowards who appear to know better but have thus far been unwilling to act on what they know (Young). There are many others. None of them will step up to the plate and impose accountability.

Bottom line: we have to replace them.


  1. I have yet to hear any Indiana R at any level tell their voters that the election was NOT rigged and that Trump lost fair and square. The Gov could have and should have but he failed to step up. Sad. That was a lost opportunity

  2. Mitt Romney was the lesser of a long list of evil and dangerous Republicans at all levels of government; losing his public voice as an elected Republican in office IS a loss to all of us. As the chaotic conditions in the House, and the non-public infighting within the party escalates, there is no “leader” to encourage other like-minded Republicans to speak out. And there is that age-old staunch Republican mind set to vote for Republicans no matter who or what they stand for or against. As if, if they just keep voting for Republicans, the real Republican party will reappear.

    To borrow Marlon Brando’s words from “On The Waterfront”; Mitt Romney “could have been a contender.” Now, he will only be counted, along with Liz Cheney, as once strong members of the Republican party, and their words now are “…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  3. After January 6th, I was mad as h3ll after not one Republican would speak up, not one peep. It was gaslighting at a national level!

    Looking back, the time to speak up was most likely at the first impeachment and Republicans blew it. After that Trump had cemented his alternate reality MAGA shock troopers in place giving him the ability to intimidate with just one tweet.

    Heather Richardson Cox reported on how grievous the security breach was giving tRump classified documents. The guy is going to prison. The question is just when.

    We have an egotistical mobster on his way to be nominated for president and the only criticism I have heard in public from the Republicans is a few weak criticisms at the Republican Vice-Presidential debates.

  4. For midwestern liberals it isn’t cowardice so much as it is polite restraint that keeps us from speaking out more forcefully if at all. There is that fear of being seen as a hot head, fear of severing friendships or relationships, fear of causing a scene for God’s sake.
    Perhaps what is needed at this time is some hot headedness, a make or brake moment with family or friends, a loud and forceful scene. Perhaps our beliefs in the rule of law, in the Constitution, and in human decency need to be advocated now as never before. Perhaps now is the time to take a stand, a firm and cemented stand for what we believe. Screw the modulated tone and good manners because it ain’t working these days.

  5. There are many words that could be used to describe Romney’s behavior, but “coward” seems to be the most fitting. JoAnn did an excellent job summarizing the post earlier today.

    The backers of the GOP caucus, which seems to be getting crazier by the day, must be proud. I can’t imagine any Republican congressman wanting to be Speaker with the “cray-cray” caucus running the show in Washington. They seem to want to push the government into a tailspin so that they can claim that it is a failure. However, they fail to see that it is their own actions that are causing these problems.

    I will have more to share later…

  6. As for somebody dumb enough to run for speaker, I think I heard that the speaker doesn’t need to be a member of the house. On an NPR interview with a staunch MAGA supporter, she was hoping they would elect Trump to the speakership.

  7. The DEMs need to take their gloves off and drop any/all their “virtue postering”/identity politics messaging and lay “truth” things on the line like:

    – This candidate “defunded” public education with a minimal budget and increased vouchers for private schools
    – This candidate took contributions from big oil and voted against renewable energy
    – Can you look your kids in the eye and tell them you voted for someone who endorsed a racist?
    – Etc.

  8. All it would take is a handful of Republican congressmen to do one of two things to protect the country. 1. Vote for the Democratic nominee for Speaker or, 2. Cut a deal with the Democrats to elect a Republican who will use the position to undercut the power of the crazy caucus. Is there even a handful willing to protect the country? Somehow I doubt it.

  9. Yes, we do have to replace them. And if we can get more than the 39.6% voter turnout we had in 2022, we can. And if we can get more than the 51% turnout of 2020, we can fucking bury them.

  10. As long as Republicans exist, there will be nothing resembling democracy appearing in the House, Indiana, or anywhere else. These are the pathetic fools that corporate/banking America has invested in. These are the anti-American, anti-democracy wretches that they purchased – on the cheap. Fascism, chaos and the dismantling of our Constitution is what corporate/banking America WANTS.

    Corporate/banking America WANTS to fulfill Marx’s prophecy and have ALL regulations from their greed removed so, in their sick and deluded collective minds, they can have ALL the money and wealth and power.

    The Republican party is merely their seed corn to accomplish this fetid, psychotic imperative of the monied classes. And why on earth would we expect courage from the most corrupt, greedy and stupid group owned and operated by corporate/banking America.

    As Patrick says, there has to be at LEAST a 51% voter turnout to end this Republican nightmare forever.

  11. In Robin Wall Kimmerer’s delightful “Braiding Sweetgrass,” she comments that
    “The Onondaga Thanksgiving Message ‘…reminds their whole community that leadership is not rooted in power and authority, but in service and wisdom.’”
    Service and wisdom are the farthest things from the minds of the GOP!!
    The idea that the crazies would even entertain putting TFG in the speaker’s chair is so beyond anything like caring about the future of the country that it ought to be grounds for removing any congress person who publicly espouses such an idea. And, yes one does not have to be a member of congress to have that seat. It would verge on traitorousness all by itself.

  12. “Profiles in Courage” they are not. These aren’t leaders, either, they have no ethics, no morals, and no standards. They prefer to burn everything to the ground. I noted a couple of days ago that they voted against their own budget plan, for fear that government would continue to operate.

  13. Can we start a national movement to distribute bumper stickers and yard signs that say:

    Absolutely No Trump !

  14. I am reading “Democracy Awakening” By Heather Cox Richardson.
    {“Wide Awakes” wore capes and black hats and carried torches in their long parades to escort Republican politicians to political events. There they protected the speaker and filled the venue. Br 1860 there were as many as half a million Wide Awakes, who then brought their friends to join the movement.”}. p. 201

    Lincoln’s vision for the country was founded on equality before the law. I would love to wear a black shirt proclaiming :
    “Not only Woke, but “Wide Awake”.

    Today at a local small town Fall festival, there was a booth selling tRump paraphernalia declaring that Jesus is my Savior but tRump is my President. The booth was doing a brisk business. Republicans had a big double tent with lots of traffic. The Democrat running for mayor was a very articulate, smart and extroverted young man who had a small tent selling baked goods as part of a fund raiser for the party, with signage for himself and Jennifer McCormick among others. He had lots of time on his hands because most of the attendees paid no attention to his greetings.

    This is rural Indiana with not a lot of diversity. There were lots of older white folks and a surprising number of young white couples with children. I am not sure what that says about the state of the state, but it doesn’t look good when we need young voters to step up.

  15. At this point the blame game is getting old. We need people talking about possible solutions to a myriad of crises. As for the immigration issue Border for the wall is dumb because they will crawl over, under, or on the wall to get out. We need to know why these people are fleeing and how we can help them before they flee their own homes. How can we support their communities?

  16. I have absolutely no respect for Romney at all … as he has only voted (what I feel to be) correctly when his vote mattered not at all. I don’t think he would have voted to impeach had his vote been the deciding vote. Healthcare reform was good for Massachusettes when he was governor, but he campaigned against Obama care when he ran for president. Women deserved control over their own bodies when he was governor, but not when he was running for president. He knows the difference between right and wrong and good and evil but doesn’t have the backbone to do the right thing unless it doesn’t matter.

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