Mona Charen, contributor to The Bulwark, thinks The GOP Needs to Hit Rock Bottom. Congressional Republicans pretended they were powerless to limit Trump’s excesses. What difference would it make if voters made the make-believe real?
Following are her closing observations.
… Republicans have criticized the president on policy matters, sometimes even harshly. Where they have shrunk into their shells was on matters that are even more critical to the health of our republic. They have, by their silence, given assent to his cruelty, his assaults on truth, his dangerous flirtations with political violence, and his consistent demolition of institutions.
Institutions are like scaffolding. When a society’s institutions are weakened, the whole edifice can come crashing down. This often happens to countries as a consequence of war or natural disasters. In our case, it was self-inflicted before the natural disaster (coronavirus) struck, and now, as masonry hits the pavement and floors sag, we are seeing the results.
Donald Trump undermined the institution of the free press, urging his followers to disbelieve everything except what came from the leader. And Republicans were silent. He weakened respect for law enforcement and the courts, suggesting that he was the victim of a “deep state” and that “so-called judges” need not be respected. And Republicans were silent. He enriched himself and his family. And Republicans were silent. He introduced doubt about accepting the results of elections. He scorned allies and toadied to dictators. And Republicans were silent. He ran the executive branch like a gangster, demanding personal loyalty and abusing officials, like the hapless Jeff Sessions, who merely followed ethics rules. He ignored the law to get his way on the border wall. Silence again. He violated the most sacred norms of a multi-ethnic society by encouraging racial hatred. Crickets. He made the United States guilty of separating babies from their mothers. And Republicans were silent. He undercut the credibility and honor of the Republican party by failing to dissociate it from kooks and criminals. And Republicans were silent.
Elected officials, terrified of their own constituents, have cowered and temporized in the face of a truly unprecedented assault on democratic values. They believed that they were powerless and acted accordingly. Since they were powerless when it counted, what difference would it make if voters were to make it official?
Consider something else that Sen. Murkowski said in response to Gen. Mattis. “When I saw General Mattis’ comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”
And Murkowski was silent.[Scriber - this one is mine.]
When one person shows courage, others are emboldened. If more Republicans had shown a willingness to stand for basic political hygiene, for elemental human decency earlier in this awful era, it might have become contagious.
But since that did not happen, the only thing that will send a message to the Republican party commensurate with its moral abdication over the past four years is to lose in a landslide. Not just Trump, but his silent enablers too.
Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a contributor to The Bulwark, and host of The Bulwark’s Beg to Differ