Op Ed

Republicans Have Abandoned Their Principles

And voters may make them pay in November.

By - Apr 17th, 2018 02:09 pm
Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence. Photo from the Office of the Speaker of the House.

Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence. Photo from the Office of the Speaker of the House.

Congressional Republicans have lashed themselves firmly to the boat of Donald Trump and they richly deserve to sink with it.

At a time when it is more important than ever for Congress to exercise its constitutional duty to be a check and balance on a dangerous presidency, the Republican majority has largely rolled over and played dead. For many, their complicity with Trump stems not from principle but cowardice.

The threat posed by Trump was succinctly spelled out recently by Minister Michael Schuler of Madison’s First Unitarian Society. The Rev. Schuler denounced “Mr. Trump’s misogyny, his mendacity, his recklessness, his self-dealing, his willful ignorance and his pugnacity.” He added: “That an individual possessing these characteristics commands so much power is chilling.”

The necessity of a check on an unstable president and a chaotic presidency is precisely the reason that our country’s founders created separate but equal branches of government. America desperately needs legislative leaders who will stand up to Trump when he degrades the presidency, cozies up to murderous dictators, corrupts the government to increase his wealth, and threatens democracy with attacks on press freedom and the independence of the justice system.

Fearful of backlash from a rabid base, Republican legislators have not only abandoned their responsibilities but also principles they had previously claimed were dear to their hearts.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker admitted that Republican lawmakers are frightened of their party’s hard core. Corker said, “The president is … very strong among the Republican base. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature.” In Republican primaries, candidates are attacked for any criticism they have made of Trump, even disapproval stemming from his boast of sexual assault on the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Rather than confront Trump, Republicans leaders have displayed outright cowardice. As the satirical Borowitz Report put it, “Scientists baffled by McConnell and Ryan’s ability to stand upright without spines.” The GOP rank and file in Congress, with very few exceptions, have followed suit.

Trump’s attacks on the criminal probe of his campaign’s relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the subsequent cover-up is a case in point. When Trump threatened the special counsel, most Republicans were intimidated into silence. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn were quiet as church mice, as were the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Republicans have stalled bills to protect the special counsel and even Republicans who originally sponsored that legislation have been intimidated into backing off.

Republicans have been bullied into supporting Trump’s policies even when they are in direct conflict with positions that they have previously vehemently proclaimed. Republicans have for years campaigned against the national debt, but under Trump they abandoned that concern as Trump balloons the annual deficit to more than a trillion dollars.

Free trade is another area where the congressional Republicans have been frightened into silence. A party that had pushed free trade, regardless of the consequences, now goes along with Trump as he haphazardly wages a trade war.

Nowhere is the Republican cowardice more on than display than on the issue of character. After claiming for years that a candidate’s personal life is relevant, they have turned a blind eye to a president whose conduct is inimical to every value the Republicans had previously claimed they cherished.

The need for a change of the party in control of Congress couldn’t be clearer. Fortunately, the public appears to agree. In a recent Suffolk University Poll, voters by an almost 2-to-1 margin said they want a Congress that will stand up to Donald Trump and that will impose limits on him.

I love summer in Wisconsin, but, this year, November can’t come soon enough.

This column was originally published by Madison’s Cap Times.

Spencer Black represented the 77th Assembly District for 26 years and was chair of the Natural Resources Committee. He currently serves as the vice president of the national Sierra Club and is an adjunct professor of urban and regional planning at UW-Madison.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

14 thoughts on “Op Ed: Republicans Have Abandoned Their Principles”

  1. Terry says:

    Excellent article! Republicans have absolutely ZERO moral authority, no conviction, no credibility and no principles. All republicans stand for anymore is whatever Trump says. That is tribalism, fascism and authoritarianism all rolled inti one. For the sake of all that is still good, right, just, honest, lawful and decent we must vote these fraudulent charlatans out of office in November!

    Dump Trump
    Dump Walker
    Dump ALL Republicans

  2. Tom says:

    Republicans never had any principles to begin with.

  3. CarlBaehr says:

    Republicans? Principles? Don’t make me laugh. Since when is chasing the dollar a principle?

  4. Troll says:

    Two words. Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson Democrat, was Trump before there was a Trump. A deeply flawed man. Hated by most, Johnson despise JFK for his womanizing skills. He to was a bully. When did the left become so morally bound? They were silent under Bill Clinton and his womanizing. No one speaks of MLK and his womanizing? Why is this?

  5. Troll says:

    When will the Left respect the rule of law. The Left demands a special investigator resulting in Mueller. What evidence was presented to justify a 12 month investigation that has led to a porn star? No crime so far. Mueller, then raids Trump’s personal lawyer desperate for evidence. Pornstar -Russian connection. Attorney- Client privilege ??? The Left does not care . Now, Crooked Hillary when do we get to investigate her?

  6. Terry says:

    @Russian Troll, Hillary has been “investigated” for 30 years and all you butt-hurt republicans can do about it is in pee your diapers. Hang tight little pee baby Troll! Mueller’s noose is tightening around Trumpty Dumpty…

    Dump Walker

  7. Crazy Chester says:

    Can’t abandon something they never had.

  8. Patricia Jursik says:

    Good analysis except I don’t believe ethics has anything to do with politics; I now value divided government more than before, and I always erred in favor of dividing the power when voting; What happened to the GOP: They got all 3 branches and felt like they could rob the candy store any day and any time they wanted. It is not a matter of ethics, neither side will show restraint if they don’t have to show it. What we do know is that those that fund GOP politics won the lottery; they want to cash in while the “gettin'” is good! Restore sanity and over-turn Citizens United. This democracy needs well-considered campaign finance reform. John Roberts should be ruing the day his Court over-turned the democratic process that created McCain/Feingold rules for controlling these Oligarchs.

  9. MKE Kid says:

    I remember the sane old school Republicans. I still remember Gov. Warren Knowles. Poor guy must be turning in his grave. Ever since Reagan, and especially the Tea Pots, have taken over, the Republican party will from now on always be the party of corporate filthy wealth for the 1%.

    Start by overturning Citizens United. Since that, Corporate Dems and Repubs are not that much different from one another. Sadly, I don’t see anyone stumping on that. Both sides LOVE the big bucks.


  10. Jeff Weiner says:

    Conservatives keep complaining that it’s been 12 months and no charges. There have been charges filed. Do we not forget that the Whitewater investigation went on for over 3 years and started with a failed land investment deal and went on to Monica Lewinsky. That was a huge stretch for Ken Starr but conservatives were fine with how long that stretched out and where it ended up. Just can’t get over the TOTAL HYPOCRISY OF THE GOP.

  11. Tom says:

    There have been over a hundred charges and 19 guilty pleas already and many of them were very high up, like Michael Flynn. Troll and republicans either aren’t paying attention or they don’t watch Fox News!



  12. Tom says:

    Remember, it was Walker and republicans that changed the campaign finance laws in Wisconsin and opened the state up to all this corporate Dark Money, NOT democrats! Plenty of blame to go around but Walker and republicans deserve the lion’s share, especially for corrupting Wisconsin with dark money, gerrymandering and FoxCON welfare. Insofar as the Mueller investigation, well let’s see, 19 guilty pleas already! Many of those were high up, like Flynn! Republicans are sooooo gross.


  13. TransitRider says:

    Troll bleats, “No one speaks of MLK and his womanizing? Why is this?”

    Perhaps because MLK’s womanizing (if there was any at all) is very different from Trump’s.

    Trump is accused of sexual assault; MLK never was, not even by his opponents. Trump’s people (Michael Cohen & David Pecker—yes, that’s a real name!) have already admitted to paying nearly $2 million in (possibly illegal) hush money, and that may be just the tip of the iceberg since another Trumpkin (Steve Bannon) said Trump’s fixer (Cohen) silenced about 100 women during the campaign.

    Troll also mentions Attorney-Client Privilege, but that privilege only applies to communications, and Cohen and Trump have both said that Cohen acted on his own without ever informing Trump—thus no communications and no privilege. Even if they did communicate, privilege doesn’t apply if the attorney is party to the crime—and since Cohen apparently acted as Trump’s fixer, his communications with Trump wouldn’t be privileged anyway.

  14. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    The GOP’s only principles are “say anything to gain power and money, and grab as much of both as you can.” And they don’t care about anyone else but themselves and their donors.

    Oh, and “when in power, screw up government services and finances that they can’t be fixed.”

    They’ve been very successful at carrying out these principles in Wisconsin, and will continue this spiral until they are voted out.

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