The Republican Party is in a state of total, primal, nuclear meltdown.
Veteran Republicans are deciding they’ve had enough, and fleeing the Congress in growing numbers. They’re just not running again, period, and who could blame them? Hated by their constituents, unable to do any good with their monopoly on government, pushed around and abused by the president himself, these are the most miserable people in the world. It is only human to want out from under that.
Donald Trump has repeatedly proven his willingness to work against fellow Republicans. He will even directly attack them for not doing what he says. As a result, a number of lawmakers no longer wish to be involved.
The latest to say goodbye was two-term Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan. His statement on Monday notes that he’s decided to spend more time with his family. Perhaps more revealing, however, was Trott’s most recent tweet, sent in mid-August: “I think America needs more unity and less divisiveness…meaning @realDonaldTrump should focus more on golf & have less press conferences.” That certainly is when the country seems to do best.
GOP control of Washington has failed to produce a single tangible result. Obamacare stayed(although one final last-ditch effort to repeal it was announced by Republican leadership on Tuesday), the treasured idea of a border wall with Mexico remains a dream, and Trump himself spends most of his time playing golf. Any kind of tax reform or tax cut is unlikely, and outright impossible without making use of the people that Trump reviled as swamp things on the campaign trail.
Trump’s one big success in cutting a deal since taking office, came when he avoided a government shutdown in early September by adopting the sensible plan drawn up by Democrats. Bypassing Republicans to do this was an unexpected move, and an unwelcome one from the perspective of the GOP. It forced elected Republicans to choose sides between Trump, and GOP leaders McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Florida has just finished taking a horrific pounding from Hurricane Irma. Coming so soon after Hurricane Harvey’s flooding farther west, it’s now plain that President Trump was right to take that deal. Had the government actually shut down last week, it would have cost us secure hurricane disaster relief. The scale of the damage thus prevented is incalculable.
Nevertheless, GOP leaders were against it. The budget plan that was passed last week, which also spared us from a Treasury default for the next three months, was a Democrat plan. Regardless of its contents, they would have opposed it, because it would be a win for us. To the Republicans, preventing Democrats from scoring a win is more important than the best interests of the country.
Even Donald Trump had more sense than that. And when you get outscored by that guy on the sensibility scale, the message it sends as to your state of mental health is far from wholesome.
“There are some stability concerns in the party,” said Josh Holmes, a GOP consultant and former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Our U.S. system has checks and balances in place to deter gigantic catastrophe. One of them is that change is not designed to come quickly. The wheels of justice turn slow, even for those who hold its keys. Even parties in control of the whole government have to learn how to navigate it, if they want to make any real changes by making some laws.
There are several things that a majority party needs in order to turn political victories into legislative ones, and the GOP doesn’t have them. Things like a prioritized agenda, internal unity, and public support simply do not exist for the Republicans at this time.
Far from producing this necessary unity within the Republican Party, the Trump era has worsened old divisions and created new ones. The familiar divide between pragmatic and ideologically driven Republicans has become a gaping chasm. The Charlottesville tragedy had a particularly polarizing effect. Mitch McConnell is said to have been livid upon hearing the President say there were many good people, waving Nazi flags that day.
The GOP has control of the government. They have controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency since January. But they don’t have control of themselves. This is evidenced clearly by the fact of their not having one single solitary major legislative accomplishment to show for their tenure in power. And the first midterm is nearly half up.
History has shown us that a single party doesn’t dominate the government like this for very long. The Democrats are nearly certain to recapture the House of Representatives and quite possibly the Senate too. Once that happens, all hope they had of advancing their agenda is gone. We will quickly attend to the business of impeaching the unfit and insane Donald Trump, and start setting our country to rights.
The only success the Republicans have had is in teaching us how not to govern. They have demonstrated aptly that occupying the halls of government doesn’t in itself make you fit to perform this onerous task. That fitness only comes from an earnest desire to both live and rule by the principles of benevolence. Until Republicans discover that, they will never meet with anything but failure and frustration.