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.Comments