Sources inside Republican Congressional offices say response back in home districts and states may decide how to deal with troublesome president Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior that ramps up racism, nationalism and hate.
House members want to hear from constituents in open meetings and forums in their home districts while Senators are commissioning polls to sample statewide public opinion on Trump’s behavior.
“Obviously, something must be one,” says one senior staff member of a Republican senator, “but we must tread carefully and make sure we have the support of our constituents.”
“The silence of Republican leaders appeared to suggest either that they agreed with the views expressed by their standard-bearer or that he has so effectively consolidated his control over their party that they have grown disinclined to voice dissent,” writes Isaac Stanley-Becker in The Washington Post.
While some Republicans (11 so far) are speaking out about Trump’s controversial statements, most hide from the public and stay silent.
Democrats have denounced Trump and so have leaders around the world but no member of the president’s Cabinet has said a word in criticism.
Most GOP members of Congress who have called out Trump for his racism are now ex-members, including former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who called one of Trump’s racist comments “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Former Republican Senator Bob Corker, once considered for a Cabinet post by Trump, later said: “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence fo demonstrate in order to be successful.”
That comment sent Corker’s poll numbers down in Tennessee and he retired.
Seeing a theme here? Republicans who have spoken out forcefully and memorably about Trump are no longer Republican officeholders. It is overly simplistic to say these Republicans retired because of their battles with Trump — though in Ryan’s case, a new book suggests that might be true. But all of them saw the writing on the wall: I can either speak out about Trump, or keep my job. In this Republican Party, you can’t do both.
This is why GOP Senators and Representatives want to listen to constituents back home over the August recess.
Some are still willing to speak out.
Fred Upton of Michigan said what Trump said is “really uncalled for, very disappointing.” Paul Mitchell of Michigan said “these comments are beneath leaders.”
Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said Trump “was wrong to say any American Citizen, whether in Congress or note, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S.” but then tempered his criticism with praise for the president’s immigration antics.
“That’s the way Trump has engineered the Republican Party, to be able to get away with whatever he wants to say,” adds Amber Phillips. “And it’s working.”
In the end, the decision of whether Trump stays or goes, rests with the voters.
Perhaps enough of them will confront their Representatives or their Senators over the August recess and convince them to be leaders.
Or we may have to wait until November of next year to see if the voters can retake control of what little is left of the country that a tyrant named Trump is destroying.
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