Embarrassed to Be a Republican: It's the Precedent, Stupid!
Back in late September, with the impeachment inquiry exploding, I wrote a piece headlined "A Difficult Time to Be a Republican."
The heated reaction to it sparked my next column, "The Civil War as Viewed From My Inbox.” No surprise that both pieces infuriated my GOP friends and associates.
Over the ensuing weeks, based on testimony from patriotic diplomats, nonstop manic presidential tweets, twisted facts, and manufactured justifications from the same tired band of Trump acolytes — it is time for the sequel: “Embarrassed to Be a Republican.”
And upon reading this, I fully expect more GOP friends will delete my contact info. After all, we live in a tribal world, and I have been a loyal Republican tribe-ster since 1975. (That’s back when Karl Rove, our College Republicans national leader, was stick-thin with shoulder-length hair.)
My current Republican attitude evolved from “difficult” to “embarrassed” after posing the following question in my Sept. 28 piece: “Will Republican elected leaders and voters stand with President Trump no matter what, even if the evidence proves he violated his oath of office?”
Sadly, this week the answer was revealed by Question 4A in a Monmouth University poll:
“[If APPROVE of Trump] Can you think of anything that Trump could do, or fail to do, in his term as president that would make you disapprove of the job he is doing, or not?”
Of the 43% who approve of the job Trump is doing as president, 62% of them answered “no” to Question 4A.
That 62% figure speaks volumes, making me fear for the future of our country, the office of the president, and my party.
I worry that such blind allegiance, so contrary to traditional American thinking, also applies to Republican Senate and House leaders. That begs the most unsettling question I have ever formulated about my party: Why are Republican leaders so willing to ignore the founding principles of our Constitution — separation of powers, checks and balances and calling out executive branch abuse of power?
The obvious answer is sickening: cowardly fear of losing their seats.
What follows is this gut-punch question: Why do the leaders of my party passively accept the actions of a U.S. president who blatantly tried to bribe a foreign government into investigating his leading domestic political rival by temporarily withholding congressionally authorized U.S. taxpayer funds designated to assist that foreign nation’s fight against the former Evil Empire?
Ronald Reagan is rolling in his grave, and the Founders have already stirred up theirs.
Sadly, the hypocrisy meter is also broken. Imagine if a Democratic president were caught engaging in similar antics? Sen. Lindsey Graham and company would be storming the White House gates.
And that brings us to the big picture: If Trump is impeached by the House but not convicted and removed from office by the Senate, what happens if a future president tries to bribe a foreign government to gain a domestic political advantage?
It’s the precedent, stupid! (Ah, longing for days of old when it was only the economy.)
The precedent is why the soon-to-be Republican mantra of “Let the people decide Trump’s fate in November 2020” is thoroughly unacceptable to this once-proud Republican and should be to every American. Ultimately, if Trump is not impeached for his actions, then what future presidential actions are impeachable?
Hey, Sen. McConnell: Face the fact that you are in a Senate leadership role “for such a time as this.” Your impeachment trial strategy will reverberate for generations once you have allowed a president to trample on the law.
And if you allow Trump to remain in office, God help our nation because the president will be even more emboldened to abuse power knowing that he is above the law and unstoppable for the remainder of his first term. Moreover, can we even imagine how dictatorially empowered he will act if he wins a second?
In the likely impeachment trial, Sen. McConnell, you are perfectly positioned to emulate Sen. Howard Baker during Watergate when he famously and repeatedly asked, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?”
But unlike Watergate, since all the facts are readily available early on, your repeated line of questioning should be: “What motivated the president to bribe a foreign leader for personal political gain, and when did he know it was illegal?”
Finally, Sen. McConnell, look in the mirror. Do you see yourself asking those questions? Do you see the demise of our Constitution if you don’t?