Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” The failure of Congressional Republicans to show the kind of courage America so desperately needs, while the leader of their party runs roughshod over our democracy, is one of the most challenging dilemmas of our time.
So perplexing in fact, that I’ve found myself talking … to myself. That’s right, after nearly four years since Donald Trump entered the political arena, I’ve now become a blithering fool. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. But, I guess the subconscious of my soul could only take so much.
I’m about to share some of these conversations—with myself—that occurred over the last couple of days as I walked and jogged with my two four-legged canine buddies in our Great Pacific Northwest backyard. They say admitting to one’s insanity is a significant first step. So, here it goes.
Why in the hell are you talking to yourself all of the time?
The current president of the United States, that’s who. Oh, and let me also include the once-proud political party that he now leads.
Hmmm…Ok, so what is it this time that’s driving you mad?
Well, it’s like this. I keep waiting for members of the Republican Party to stand up to their dear leader and tell him that the jig is up. You know, “enough is enough.” “We can’t support you anymore. If the Democrats impeach you, you won’t have the votes in the Senate.” And so on. Blah. Blah. Blah. This is a recurring dream; obviously, a dream loaded with delusions of grandeur.
Ok, I get it. But what about that bastion of political courage, Mitt Romney? Didn’t he just come out with a tweet highly critical of Trump?
Yes, he did. And, we should praise him for at least showing a bit of spine here. But let’s face it, if we’re depending on the ‘Mittster’ for moral guidance, clarity, and the ability to pull his fellow Senators together in defiance of Trump, we’re in big trouble. But ok, it’s a start. At this point, I’ll take anything.
Maybe you’re overreacting?
Absolutely not. Even this past weekend, there was Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, walking back a previously damaging assessment of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. He went out of his way to defend him, and even brought up a couple of debunked Fox News conspiracy theories along the way. And believe it or not, Chuck Todd of Meet the Press let him have it. I’ve been waiting forever for Todd to show some Tim Russert like spunk, and there it was yesterday. I almost choked on my cereal.
So maybe the media, at last, is finding a spine?
Perhaps. I’m more hopeful, at least. We need much more of that. Pushback is so lacking these days. To see Todd visibly upset and angry sends a tingle up my leg.
Ok, Chris Matthews.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
So, if you’re correct in the assumption that the Republican Party has no spine and seems terrified of Trump, the question really becomes, why? Why are they so afraid of him?
Ah. It’s the question that consumes my brain the most these days. I’ve heard a lot of pundits say it’s because they fear a ferocious Trump tweet. After all, remember Marco Rubio during the campaign of 2016? Does “little Marco” ring a bell? Or, how about Ted Cruz? He had to defend Trump’s allegation that Cruz’s father had something to do with the Kennedy assassination. Maybe that’s it.
Hmmm. That’s possible. But it could be something else, couldn’t it?
Sure. Another theory says that Republicans are willing to go along with Trump because of the tax cuts and judges. While most of them don’t like him, there willing to put up with his shenanigans as long as he delivers on policies they want. That’s a possibility, I suppose.
But wait a minute. This thing with Ukraine. This is really bad. He’s literally advancing his own agenda, putting pressure on the foreign leader of a government that desperately needs our aid to defend against Russian aggression on their border. He’s asking this leader to dig up dirt on his political rival, as a prerequisite of the assistance. My God, doesn’t that cross the line?
You’re damn right it does.
But what if Obama….
Stop it! Don’t even go there. We know what they’d do if it were him, Hillary, or any other Democrat for that matter. It wouldn’t be an impeachment inquiry; the impeachment vote would already be scheduled.
Right. So, what the hell is wrong with the Republican Party? You still haven’t answered the question.
Well, and this isn’t a scientific answer. But it’s mine, and I’m sticking to it. It’s got to be the job itself. Once these people are elected to Congress, they never want to leave. They will do anything and say anything to keep their jobs.
But wait. It’s not like Congresspeople make a ton of money. I mean ok, $174k and excellent medical and pension benefits is a damn good gig if you can get it. But, c’mon, many of these guys are millionaires many times over. It’s not like they can’t get a job in the private sector. You think that’s it?
I do. It’s about power. It’s having people fawn all over you. It’s having lobbyists court your vote and send contributions. It’s having the media calling you and asking for interviews. It’s undoubtedly one of the most critical jobs in the country. It must be intoxicating to many of them. When you have this kind of power and influence, the risk of losing it all has to frighten them.
You might be on to something.
I think I am. While we all wait for the so-called “Barry Goldwater” moment, the point at which principled Republicans will finally hold this president’s feet to the fire, as happened during the Nixon presidency, the passivity and quiet indignation continue unabated.
So I guess what you’re saying is, unless we have an actual tape of Trump shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, we’re not going to see profiles in courage from the Republican Party?
Yep. Sadly, it’s precisely what I’m saying.
And so they put up with him, afraid he might turn his cult following against them? Maybe even help launch a primary for their seats? Is that what this is?
Until I hear otherwise, yes, that’s what I’m saying. Even though only 22% of the public, according to recent polling, identifies themselves as voting members of the Republican Party, the current crop of Washington D.C. GOP members is frightened of this group. They’re also scared of those independent voters who still like Trump. God forbid they stand on principle and patriotism. I guess that’s asking too much of elected representatives whom WE pay to do their jobs.
Wow. You paint a pretty bleak picture. Is it any wonder you talk to yourself all the time now?
I hear you. And I won’t even talk about my drinking.
Oh boy. That’s for another day. We’ll talk soon.
Ok, maybe I need a therapist. I’ll let you know.