Sane Senate Republicans and critics of President Donald Trump, including Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona as well as a slew of House Republicans, retired in 2018 rather than face the challenge of re-election in the Trump era.
Over the past two weeks, six Republican House members — including one of only 13 women (Susan Brooks of Indiana) and the only African American (Will Hurd of Texas) — also have announced their retirements, bringing the total to eight.
Hurd is the sole black Republican House member, a stunning statistic considering that 53 House Democrats are African American. In the entire Congress, a single African American Republican, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina would remain.
Republican elected officials are becoming more solidly pro-Trump, more white and more male.
Not coincidentally, Republicans in the Trump era are losing House seats (more than 40 in 2018), governorships (down a net six in 2018) and state legislatures (six chambers flipped from Republican to Democratic control in the 2018 elections).
While Hurd told the Post he objected to Trump’s racist tweets (“When you imply that because someone doesn’t look like you, in telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you’re implying that they’re not an American and you’re implying that they have less worth than you”), he insists that he will still vote for him, the perfect pathetic encapsulation of Republicans’ moral vacuousness.
They know he’s a racist, they know racism is despicable and anti-American, but, by gosh, he’s their man for president.
When Republicans say that the party must support a racist because of tax cuts or judges or some other excuse, they are not only saying racism doesn’t matter all that much, if at all; they are also saying they won’t even go to the trouble of finding a non-racist Republican who would cut taxes and appoint conservative judges.
The moral cowardice of elected Republicans is matched by their low opinion of their own voters (whom they assume don’t want to dump a racist president).
The latter assumption might be justified, given that Republican voters overwhelmingly support Trump, knowing (or willfully denying) that he’s a racist, a liar and a bully.
Since Trump’s election I’ve suggested that the current Republican Party is irredeemable. A party so thoroughly corrupted and devoid of intellectual and moral integrity cannot be rescued from itself.
A feasible approach following the 2016 election to defeating Trump, rescuing the GOP from itself and sparing the country four more years was to appeal to the better angels of Republicans’ nature.
That, however, would be a useless exercise in 2019.
Shouting into the wind brings us no closer to a Trump-free Republican Party or a Trump-free White House.
The only plausible path at this point is to crush the GOP so resoundingly at every level that it is forced to abandon Trumpism, recruit an entirely different generation of leadership and devise an agenda that is not based on right-wing nationalism.
Helping Democrats achieve that end should be the goal of all decent Americans — including Republicans who want one day to be able to vote in good faith for a Republican Party true to the tradition of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.