Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And Now Your Troubles Begin

I feel bad for Trump-critical congressional Republicans. Really, I do. They thought that their efforts would be over after election day. In a Hillary Clinton administration, never Trump Republicans could go back to being regular Republicans. They could be a normal opposition party. To be sure, had they done this I think they'd have missed the lesson of their own experience -- Donald Trump was the fruit of "regular" Republican activity over the past eight years -- but it would have been understandable. Their labors would have been done.

Instead, they have four years of Donald Trump. Four years where "opposition" no longer is just tongue-clucking in the New York Times, but actually will involve taking concrete action on the House and Senate floor. That's a very different animal.

I'm not asking that Republicans suddenly become NARAL backers just because Trump is in office. But basic good governance regulations (such as reigning in Trump's conflicts of interest)? Those can't be allowed to slide. And, with Democrats in a state of rout, it is up to the Republicans in Congress. They can't fob it off on others..

Unfortunately, many congressional Republicans are indicating they have no interest in rising to the occasion. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has miraculously lost all interest in investigating the President after promising two straight years of investigation into Hillary Clinton had she won the Oval Office. Other Republicans literally run for the elevators when asked to discuss Trump's unprecedented ethical conflicts. It is an unacceptable abdication of duty. And it unfortunately betrays, yet again, the fundamental unwillingness of the modern conservative movement to take responsibility for itself.
[M]any other Republicans downplayed the ethical concerns, noting Trump was still some two months from Inauguration Day. Many said they had faith in Trump and his family to make the right moves, and they insisted any problems that emerge would come out in the normal course of Washington’s checks-and-balances.
“The republic’s been around 240 years. We didn’t say George Washington couldn’t have any interest in the affairs of Mount Vernon,” said Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole said. “These are real problems but there are lots of ethics rules and regulation. And there’s lots of scrutiny, more scrutiny with the presidency of the United States than any other position in the world, from the media to your friends to your enemies.”
“Let’s give the guy a chance to work through this and set up some sort of system,” he added. “We’ll see if it works or not. I hope it does. I trust it will. But if it didn’t, he’ll pay a horrific political price.”
"Hope" and "trust" are not part of the checks-and-balances schema. Our system of government is not based on "trusting" people in power to do right. It's based on the different branches of government taking it upon themselves to actively check one another, exercising their oversight powers fairly but aggressively. Seriously, read Federalist #51.

In any event, while Democrats can do little things to hold Donald Trump accountable, it's ultimately up to the Republican Party to keep him in check -- or not. It won't be easy for them. It will involve constantly and aggressively tackling the leader of their own Party -- never a fun endeavor. Those GOP members who recognize how dangerous Donald Trump is may have thought they'd have earned a reprieve on Election Day. But in reality, their troubles -- like ours -- have only just begun.

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