I have spent weeks hammering Republicans who have contorted their broken ideologies and done mind-bending about-faces on morality and Russia and free trade and exploding deficits and a ton of other apparently flimsy tenants of what used to make up their platform to kowtow to a rabid base that props up the worst polling numbers in the history of a first-term president. Donald Trump, I’ve surmised, has crippled the party, because, really, what could they do? They have to defend this. Supreme Court judges, tax cuts, a booming stock market, and low unemployment is not nothing. So what if he’s a criminal and a doofus and the laughing stock of the world and blurts out daily vulgarities as a matter of Twitter discourse? And although having done this kind of thing for decades, I understand it. I do. But it turns out that I was not entirely correct about this. A preponderance of polling and a whole lot of talking does not quite meet the one criterion that matters in this workaday world: actions.
This week, Representative Tom Graves of Georgia announced that he is retiring from Congress. At present, Graves makes seventeen Republicans that have decided to quit rather than seek reelection in 2020. This is not too dissimilar to the twenty-three House Republicans who bailed prior to the November 2018 crushing the GOP took, eventually losing forty seats in the mid-terms. Now, not all of these are merely seasoned professional politicians seeing the writing on the proverbial wall that Trump is headed for defeat and is poised to take the party down with him in November. More than a few have been around a long time–which some may argue means that it has taken three harrowing years of a game show host stumbling his way through the executive branch to make this a sane alternative to continuing the gig. But then again it may just be time to seek quieter pastures. Still, there is something brewing beyond this.
To wit: Only two of the escaping legislators, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. from Wisconsin, and New York’s Peter King, are north of seventy. And despite abysmal approval ratings for the President, his pending impeachment in the very same House of Representatives, and the continuing low approvals for Congress in general, many of these Republican retirees come from districts (polling twenty to thirty percent higher than the nation’s average) that they will most likely win without much effort. So why not run?
Well, let’s take Greg Walden from Oregon, who has raised a shit-ton of money and is virtually unbeatable in his district. What is his reason for getting out? And, by the way, he is not alone. There are others who have raised enough funds and have superior polling numbers to show that they could keep their jobs beyond 2020, and yet they want out.
I proffer that these representatives simply can no longer bear Donald Trump or where the country is going–fiscally, morally, or otherwise. Some announced they were quitting shortly after Trump’s knee-jerk shift in Syrian policy turning America’s Kurdish allies over to their Turkish enemies without notifying anyone, including the Pentagon. Some also mildly raised eyebrows about the spend-thrift lunacy signed off by a Republican president. Recently, former fiscal conservative rodeo clown Rush Limbaugh answered a caller concerned about the exploding debt under Trump by saying, “There has never been fiscal conservatives, that was always a myth.” And then there is the thorny battle between phony Evangelists who claim some form of aborted Christian values and yet tossed them into the shit can for this bleating oaf of a president, who mocks, spats, and pays off hookers with campaign funds and holds sway over the human tragedy that is occurring at our southern border.
A good example of someone who is quitting directly because of Trump is Florida Rep. Francis Rooney, the only House Republican to publicly say he was open to impeaching Trump. The next day he quit. Rooney put his mouth where his position is and combined anti-Trump rhetoric with leaving, but for the most part the rest of those who have decided to abandon public service in the past few months have simply given no reason or just the standard, “I’m done.”
It was either Sigmund Freud, Thomas Aquinas, or someone or other that said, “There are no coincidences.” We know that regardless of whatever lip service people provide, their actions indeed speak louder than words. Something is up.
I choose to see this as some Republicans not being comfortable with all this and to stick around and have to deal with a pro-Trump primary opponent or to rubber stamp this mess is simply beneath them. Many of my colleagues, and still other brain damaged types, claim this is a sign that perhaps things may not go as smoothly in an upcoming senate trial for Trump. But a Republican-controlled upper chamber is not going to kick their president out of office no matter what crazy, illegal, anti-American crap he does. And, again, if that is the way they wish to play it, I cannot argue with them. And this is why although I am considered a cynic, I am a realist. I never believe when people talk about loving America or blah-blah values. This is how things work. Self-preservation wins against America and values every time.
Other commentators and insiders broach the idea that legacy and having the stain of letting these latest crimes and misdemeanors pass will forever put senators in the “wrong side of history” box and that may sway them. But a gig is a gig and if you belong to a club or a team or a company, and in this case a political party, you may have to fall on a sword or two to keep your job or at least keep the whole thing afloat.
But it ain’t all of them. Seventeen and counting members of Congress are begging to differ. They won’t stick around to continue to besmirch their names with this madness. Maybe they actually care about the country, the Constitution, or perhaps they’re thinking of saving their own hides. The last one is probably true, because I highly doubt even in exiting they would vote against the party to impeach Trump in the House. But, nevertheless, what their quitting ultimately says is that it is better than whatever Donald Trump and his cronies are cooking up next. And I can’t say I disagree with that either.