Perhaps too good to be true…
It is good that a few Republicans are showing signs of conscience in roughly the last week that Donald Trump remains in office. Any progress, no matter how minute, deserves to be appreciated.
Still, if Republicans had shown conscience the first time Trump was impeached (nearly a year ago), five people would not have died in the Capitol riots incited by Trump and his cohorts.
Let’s be honest: Trump did not suddenly reveal himself to be a monster, previously hidden behind a mask of grace, charm, solicitude, and truth. Trump waxed ogrelike in innumerable ways in prior years. He became so famous for lying that statisticians gained full-time employment just tracking his litany of lies. His crudity, insensitivity, boorishness, bullying manner, and utter disregard for the laws governing his office were proved beyond a shadow of a doubt long before January 6, 2021. Aside from his abrasive personality, he adopted myriad policies both monstrous and idiotic, in a trail stretching clear to Normay.
What Trump was to Republicans was both a money tree and a power base. They loved gorging on leaves from the money tree, and sucking power from the power base. They also knew that Trump was the leader of an angry mob which he controlled and orchestrated; but most of them were never directly confronted with that mob (unless, like Giuliani and Flynn, they chose to be its cheerleaders). Many Republicans were country club types, happy to slop up the spoils of Trumpism, garnered in part from poor deluded slobs sending in their fivers and tenners in response to fundraising appeals filled with blatant lies, and stoking fears about the scary Other which must be kept at bay. (The Other was often a different race or religion than most Trump supporters.)
It went on this way for four years, Republicans gobbling up the money and sucking up the power (and sucking up to Donald Trump). He was, in many ways, a mafialike figure; but as with the real estate, construction and casino businesses from which Trump emerged, politics is also a dirty business. So, Republicans didn’t find it difficult to accustom themselves to the Trump family’s increasing stranglehold on Washington politics. Jared Kushner called it a ‘hostile takeover,’ but perhaps it was more like the seduction of a nymphomaniac. Only token resistance was offered. Most sang Glorias.
If what substitutes for truth in Washington is money and power, then Trump proved his right to sit astride the refuse heap by having tons of both. That he was ignorant to ten decimal places, with morals that would shame an alley cat, was considered of little consequence. He had the goods: money and power; and Republican country club types could keep a safe distance from the mob, while continuing to reap the benefits, guzzle the power.
The only thing Trump did to upset the system was to send the mob directly to the Capitol while Congress was in session, thus forcing these money-munchers and power-guzzlers to cower in their seats, fear for their lives, and gasp for air while ensconced in gas masks. Trump had made millions of citizens utterly miserable over the prior four-year period; but when he inconvenienced fellow Republicans by confronting them with the mob that was partly financing their junkets, that was too much to bear. In that moment, emerging from cover and stepping over the shards of broken glass, they spontaneously began developing faculties vaguely resembling a conscience and a spine — too late, perhaps, by any cosmic reckoning, but conveniently coinciding with the final days that Trump would be in office.
Headin’ out to Eden,
Headin’ out to Eden,
No more trouble in my body or my mind;
Gonna live like a king on whatever I find;
Eat all the fruit, and throw away the rind;
Yea, brother, yea.
Quaintly expressed, that is nevertheless the practical philosophy of many Republicans. They ate all the fruit they could shake from the Donald Tree. Now that he’s accused of insurrection and inciting to riot, and has shown that he’s not averse to physically harming members of Congress, they’re only too happy to throw away the rind and move on to some other tree. Yea, brother!
The run-away-from-Jesus moment arrived with remarkable synchronicity on the same day we learned that some Fortune 500 companies are pledging to deprive Republicans of funding if they are (or continue to be) associated with false claims that Trump won the election by a landslide, that the election was stolen, and that Biden is not the legitimate president elect. These companies want a stable, coup-free environment in which to operate. It must be further noted that Trump can no longer tweet recalcitrant Republicans out of power, having been permanently (or indefinitely) banned from Twitter, as indeed from most mainstream social media platforms. (The joke goes that Trump violated Twitter’s “42,000 strikes and you’re out” policy.)
The Trump train was always headed for destruction. The ‘art’ of being a Republican (if art it may be called) lies (as any hobo could relate) in knowing when to jump off one train and catch another. The few Republicans who, thus far, have come out publicly in favour of impeachment, have demonstrated their alacrity and acrobatic deftness. Their base instincts for self-preservation have finally overruled their instinct to slop up money and power, causing them to leap from the Trump train at the last possible moment. This might be described as a ‘conscience-mimetic’ event.
I hope I may be forgiven if I don’t expend much energy cheering them for their courage and moral rectitude. Conscience? Perhaps. You may be scared of the mob, yet there comes a time when you just have to squeal.
The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.
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