Trump may pass it off as fake news but last week’s election was a frank repudiation of Trump, his actions and policies. More Americans are seeing that he is a dangerous blowhard and are punishing Republicans across the nation for supporting him. But what does this mean for 2018 and for the GOP agenda for tax reform? Could Republican leaders approach Democrats to try and craft bipartisan support for a tax bill?
Don’t bet on it. There are still too many conservative Republicans who want nothing to do with the Democrats and don’t see the scattered 2017 election results as a forecast of GOP doom next year. And overcoming gerrymandering and voter ID laws put in place by Republican state governments will be hard for the Democrats to overcome if they are to retake control of the House. On the other hand, a large number of Republican House members are retiring, having seen the writing on the wall. Trump’s approval rating is down in the dumps and the inability of the Republicans to accomplish anything with complete control of all the levers of government has had a negative impact.
Many Republicans have also remained silent on Roy Moore, the GOP Senate candidate from Alabama who five women have branded as a pedophile. Some Republicans have already distanced themselves from him, withholding their support and asking him to withdraw, while others wait to see what President Trump has to say. Those silent are afraid of Steve Bannon as much as the Trump base and completely lacking in courage.
There are Party members like Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and John McCain, and other prominent conservatives who have been willing to speak out against Trump (and Moore), while others hide in the corners without a word. In politics as in life, Shakespeare’s lines from Julius Caesar ring true. “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.”
Republican political cowards are afraid to attack Trump even though they realize that he is an ignorant blowhard, a liar, a racist, a misogynist, and unstable, and certainly unfit to govern America. They are afraid of losing the votes of the Trump base if they come out against him. These men and women have chosen their party over their country, and are looking out for their own careers instead of acknowledging the damage that Trump is doing to America and to its relations with the rest of the world.
Senator Flake, a true conservative, has taken a courageous and principled stand against Trump, choosing not to run for office again rather than bearing the standard of the Party of Trump. Certainly, it cost him support in his home state of Arizona in the Republican Party, but perhaps he could have won his primary if he had stood fast and explained in detail and repeatedly to his constituents why he came out against Trump. Good, principled people are needed on both sides of the aisle to negotiate legislation that will benefit America’s citizens. America needs politicians who are willing to speak truth to power even if it means losing votes and being spurned by other party members. Adhering to the party line and following the party’s leaders is not always best for the country, and not even best for the party and for the individual politician. Compromise in Washington should not be considered a dirty word, nor should speaking the truth be penalized.
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