Democrats finally get it: Republicans are in bed with Donald Trump. Full stop. And Democrats may as well take matters into their own hands.
This week marked a definitive parting of the ways. No use pretending Republicans have any other motive than protecting and coddling Trump. No use waiting for some principled stand against a man who is ravaging our democracy, sullying our reputation worldwide, and literally threatening to destroy whatever way of life we have come to know in the modern era.
It doesn’t matter how trashy, how repugnant, how uninformed, how ignorant, how callous, how corrupt, how self-interested, how dangerous, how deadly, or how treasonous Trump is, GOP lawmakers are using the power with which they have been entrusted to betray our country.
They made this unflinchingly clear last week when they kicked off 2018 with a rash of actions ripped straight from the playbook of a fascist regime. Everyone from House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes to Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley and his colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham used their positions to discredit and ultimately try to kill the special counsel investigation into Team Trump’s Russia ties, and then further placate their ruler by using our nation’s instruments of justice to terrorize his political opponents.
They followed suit this week by pretending the “shithole” smear Trump leveled against African countries at a White House meeting on immigration never happened even after Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin confirmed that it was exactly what happened, not once but “repeatedly.” Durbin was the sole Democrat in that meeting and every single one of the six Republican lawmakers also in attendance kept their mouths shut about what happened.
Even Sen. Graham—who Durbin said confronted Trump during the meeting—couldn’t bring himself to simply confirm Durbin’s account the next day. Speaker Ryan, in the ultimate show of cowardice, could only pry the words “unfortunate” and “unhelpful” out of his ossified soul when asked about this repugnant incident. Really? The Pr*sident of the United States referred to Africa as a “shithole” and the most you can muster is “unfortunate”? It’s exactly this type of ‘leadership’ that has allowed a man who is literally defiling our country to go unchecked.
But Durbin, like other Democrats, has clearly grown tired of waiting for Republicans to do their jobs as public stewards of this country. His disclosure was just one example in a chorus of moves by Democrats this week which publicly exposed a Republican Party that has not only lost its moral compass, but actually took a jackhammer to it lest it betray them with the truth.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein finally helped put to rest all the GOP innuendo around the Steele dossier by publicly releasing the testimony of the co-founder of the research firm that produced it, Fusion GPS. She also bluntly noted on Friday that Trump “shouldn’t be the president” if he couldn’t “control himself and lead this country with the authority, dignity and leadership it requires.”
Six House Democrats who serve as ranking members on their committees sent a much deserved letter to Speaker Ryan calling him and other Republicans out for stonewalling their efforts to “investigate, hold public hearings, and advance legislation” concerning the Trump-Russia investigation.
And Sen. Ben Cardin and his fellow Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee released a report detailing Russia’s efforts to undermine elections in European countries and the steps officials there have taken to protect their democracies.
Notably, the GOP chair of that committee, Sen. Bob Corker, led his Republican colleagues in refusing to sign on to the report. Simply put, Corker—who has repeatedly questioned Trump’s fitness for office—wasn’t patriotic enough to make that a bipartisan report because it dared to highlight Trump’s complete failure of leadership on the issue.
In a way, it’s weirdly unimaginable: we have a president who threatens worldwide stability, who draws international condemnation, who has rock-bottom approval ratings, who inspires op-eds from the New York Times titled “Is Mr. Trump Nuts?”—and Republicans are still too morally depraved to speak out against him. Even those who aren’t running for reelection, like Corker, refuse to take a meaningful stand against Trump even as he takes a sledgehammer to everything that was once dear about our democracy.
In the meantime, Republican lawmakers are fleeing the 2018 elections like rats fleeing a sinking ship, bringing the total number of open House seats to a historic 31 (19 who are retiring and 12 who are running for higher office).
The last time a party had nearly that many members retire during a midterm year was in 1994, when 28 Democrats left and the GOP subsequently took back control of Congress in the Republican Revolution.
The silver lining in this pathetic mess is that Democrats are finally discovering their voice and distinguishing themselves as a party that isn’t going to sit back and watch a mad man burn our country to the ground.
It is exactly where they need to be morally. It is exactly where they need to be electorally. And it is exactly where they need to be historically.