Back during the campaign, Trump famously said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Clearly, he was right then and he’s right now. His base will stick with him regardless of how badly he behaves. As someone on twitter said yesterday, he could hand the nuclear codes over to the Russians and his base would cheer.
What’s disturbing, though, is Republicans in Congress seem to hold the same views. They have yet to offer very strong rebukes for anything and both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan excuse every bit of poor behavior. When the Washington Post revealed that Trump gave classified information to the Russians, elected “leaders” like John McCain defended his right to do so. Can you imagine their outrage if Obama had done that?
As for his base, they’re just writing it off as fake news from the lamestream media. Trump trotted out his Secretary of State and National Security Advisor last night to deny the Post’s story. Of course, Trump woke up this morning and made them out to be liars in a tweet admitting the story is true.
As Saturday Night Live said this weekend, “Nothing matters anymore.” Conservative values are out the window. Congressional Republicans will defend Trump no matter how incompetent or destructive. The goal is not to govern but to hold power. The 2018 elections are more important than any policy.
Republican governance has been a disaster for the country, not because of specific policies but because of the destruction of norms and institutions. What Trump is currently doing to the presidency, McConnell is doing to the Senate. From his unprecedented obstructionism as minority leader to his handling of Merrick Garland and subsequent nuclear option for Supreme Court nominees to his unwavering defense of Trump’s dysfunctional executive branch, he’ll leave the world’s greatest deliberative body just another partisan chamber.
The Tea Party rendered the House ungovernable years ago. They ran off John Boehner because of his instinct for compromise and deal-making. Their desire for ideological purity landed them with Paul Ryan, a man who would sell his soul to keep his Speakership. Ryan, too, has decided that defending the executive branch is more important than protecting the legislative branch.
Tribalism is the enemy of democracy. Republicans who are sacrificing their responsibilities to govern in hopes of preventing an electoral disaster next year are harming our country. While Mitch McConnell may be more tempered in his demeanor, his actions have done the same type of damage to the Senate that Trump is doing to the White House. And Paul Ryan, in an effort to keep his divided caucus in line, is unwilling to exercise the checks and balances that our government requires. Our political leaders are putting party before country.
We need statesmen. Somebody please step up.