At times, it felt like this would never happen. Even today – as Sen. Lindsey Graham dutifully repeated Godfather Don’s outrageous “lynching” utterance – it’s still hard to believe it actually will.
But there now are signs – small trickles of water seeping through the dam that is Republican resistance to a just accounting of Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors – that even the GOP has its moral and legal limits. Even they might be compelled at some point to say “enough” to Donald Trump.
While Graham all too willingly echoed Trump’s racism-slathered remark, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the lynching comparison “unfortunate.” Not much of a condemnation, to be sure, but for McConnell, maybe it’s a start.
Mitt Romney – perhaps hoping to cement a positive political legacy, possibly just seeing a slim opening for one last presidential run in 2020 – admitted on October 20 that, yes, in addition to publicly criticizing Trump’s calamitous troop withdrawal from Syria, he is the voice behind the anonymous “Pierre Delecto” Twitter account known for “liking” tweets critical of Trump.
In the same NBCNews.com coverage, former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake was quoted as saying that 35 GOP Senators would vote to remove Trump from office in an impeachment trial “if they could vote in private.”
And, as Vox reported, 129 of 197 House Republicans – 65% of the GOP House – voted this month to denounce Trump’s Syria capitulation – only the second time in Trump’s term that a significant number of GOP House members have dared defy their president.
Most important, ordinary Americans (other than hardcore GOP loyalists) are rapidly moving to a pro-impeachment, pro-removal position – and thinking more highly of Congress as it takes action. A Gallup national poll taken Oct. 1-13, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s late September announcement of the impeachment inquiry, showed:
- 52% of Americans now support Trump’s impeachment and removal, a 7-point increase since June.
- Nearly 90% of Democrats (up 8), 55% of independents (up 9) and just 6% of Republicans (down 1) hold that view.
- Approval of Congress now stands at 25%, up from 18% in September, before Pelosi’s announcement. It jumped from 19% to 34% among Democratic voters and from 19% to 25% among independents, while holding at 17% among Republicans.
- Trump’s approval rating remained flat at 39%, with 5% of Democrats, 34% of independents and 87% of Republicans approving. (Yes, 87% is appalling – but remember, the GOP slice of the total voter pie keeps shrinking.)
As public opinion increasingly demands Trump’s prosecution, conviction and ouster, we can expect more Republican Congress members to finally spy the writing on the wall and start to do what their constituents expect: uphold the law and defend the Constitution.
So what do we say to those Republicans as they begin to break away?
No gloating, no taunting
We’ve been begging Congress for nearly three years to hold Trump accountable for his actions. So let’s not blow the opportunity: let’s support Republican independence when we see it. There will be lots of time down the road to argue with the GOP on issues and policy. And we’ll have our opportunity on Nov. 3, 2020, to properly chastise those who remain stubbornly attached to Trump by voting them out of office.
For now, if you’re represented in Congress by a Republican, pay close attention to what they say and stand ready to respond.
When they hoist a trial balloon – hinting that something Trump just said or did might not be such a great idea – respond quickly to tell them you agree.
Ditto for their comments opposing a Trump action without naming him: thank them for the comment and call on them to take it a step further by calling out Trump specifically.
The same thing goes when they utter those “strong words” during a Town Hall meeting or Congressional hallway interview – you know, words with no action attached. Praise their firm statement and call on them to take concrete steps.
Most important, when your Republican Representative or Senator actually stands up and votes against Trump – whether it’s on a non-binding resolution, a policy or funding vote, or an impeachment action – call, write, post and tweet your thanks for the fact that they took a stand for the rule of law and our Constitution.
Let’s thank GOP members of Congress and other prominent Republicans on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, in letters to the editor of our local papers, and at Town Halls, whenever they publicly separate themselves from Donald Trump’s words and deeds.
Let’s use hashtags like #CountryOverParty as we tweet our thanks for their positive decisions.
Let’s show them that, even politically speaking, love trumps hate.
We all know that GOP officeholders will be mercilessly attacked by Donald Trump and his loyal minions for daring to challenge the Great Leader. Congressional Republicans will continue to cower in silence if they’re attacked from both the right and the left. They need to know that more people are with them than against them.
We can lead the way.
Heck, it might just kick off a new era of bipartisan cooperation if we can remind enough GOP officeholders that they work for ALL their constituents, not just registered Republicans.
OK, maybe that’s a bridge too far. But one can hope.
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