First, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham blocked a bill to make the Mueller report public that passed the House 420-0. Then this weekend, Donald Trump continued his attacks on John McCain despite the Senator’s death seven months ago. Lindsay Graham, who for years was seen as McCain’s sidekick, stayed quiet for the first few hours before offering tepid praise for McCain without rebuking the president.
Before Trump’s election, Graham was his most vocal and damning critic. His about face has left people wondering, “What do they have on Lindsey Graham?” The answer, I’m afraid, is not that complicated or sinister. Graham has no spine and knows he can’t win a primary without Trump’s support.
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis came to the same conclusion last week. After writing an op-ed that laid out his core values and teed him up to vote against Trump, he folded in the face of a primary challenge that would likely have the president’s blessing.
No, the question is not what is wrong with Thom Tillis or Lindsey Graham. They’re just spineless, run-of-the-mill politicians more concerned with their own political skins than anything else.
The real question is what is wrong with the Republican Party that it would choose Donald Trump over principle. A party that just a decade ago touted its conservative credentials of free trade, free speech, strong national defense, moral rectitude and limited government has thrown its values overboard to support a man who represents much of what they opposed. Recent polls show that more than 80% of Republicans support the president. It’s stunning.
Conservatives who issue dire warnings about threats to free speech when college students shut down conservative commentators or provocateurs sit quietly as the President of the United States threatens to unleash police, soldiers and biker mobs on his political opponents. They say nothing as he calls for government agencies to investigate and shut down television shows that make fun of him. They no longer have much regard for protecting the First Amendment or keeping big government in check.
They’ve abandoned their demand for free trade, standing silently by as Trump starts trade wars that damage our economy and cause the largest trade deficit in history. While claiming to be defenders of the constitution, Republicans applaud Trump as he issues an emergency declaration that walks all over the separation of powers. Conservative Christians who once demanded the impeachment of Bill Clinton for an affair forgive a president who pays off porn stars and habitually cheats on his wives. The party that once insisted that we not negotiate with terrorists or their benefactors sits quietly as Trump praises brutal dictators while bashing our allies.
The Republican Party today stands for three things: tax cuts for millionaires, ending abortion and promoting white supremacy. But that’s not how they talk about them. To their voters, they’re protecting the country from Democrats giving their hard earned tax dollars to free loaders, killing babies born alive and allowing hordes of brown people to cross our southern border.
And that’s why Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis will sell out their values. They’ve convinced themselves that the Republican Party and the country is better off with them in office than the alternative Trumpists. They know that they can’t win a primary with a Trump-backed opponent. Instead, they’ll compromise their core values in order to save their political skins. It’s political equivalent of destroying the village in order to save it.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >