The defeat of Mark Sanford in the South Carolina Republican primary last night demonstrates why Republican critics of President Trump have gone silent. Mark Sanford had the temerity to raise his voice against the excesses of the Trump Administration. This didn't mean he had gone off the reservation and become a liberal, not by any stretch of the imagination. As with many other conservatives, Mr. Sanford was a strong advocate of transparency in government, not unlike conservative icon Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately for Congressman Sanford, he applied his dedication to transparency to the subject of Donald Trump's income taxes. As a result, he earned the eternal enmity of this nation's 45th President. In the process, he was bombarded by one of Donald Trump's infamous tweets, urging South Carolina Republicans to send him packing in the primary election, which they did.
In the past, other Republicans opposed initiatives supported by Republican Presidents. I'm sure this pissed those Presidents off. After all, party discipline is an important thing. But those Presidents followed the example of Ronald Reagan who promulgated his 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of your fellow Republicans!". This allowed the Republican Party the freedom to speak out against Republican "orthodoxy" as long as it was a matter of principle. Not no more!!
The thing to understand is that this isn't about political ideology. For instance, President Trump's protectionist tariff policy is straight out of the Democratic Party's political playbook. So, no, in this age of Trump it isn't enough for a Republican to be consistently conservative, to follow the historic path of principled conservatism as practiced by Barry Goldwater. Conservative principles are no longer paramount in the Republican Party any more, loyalty to Donald Trump is!
Why is that? Why have Republicans traded in their conservative principles to adhere to what is, in effect, a cult of personality built around Donald Trump? The answer is simple. Republicans have learned a hard lesson about Donald Trump. They've found out he is ONE vindictive man. In Trumpland, unless you are with him one hundred percent of the time on one hundred percent of the issues, you are a traitor to the cause, the cause of Trump that is. And if you veer off even one millimeter from Trump orthodoxy, he will turn against you and do everything in his power to bring about you political downfall. And so today, fealty to Donald Trump is much more important than loyalty to good, old-fashioned Republican conservatism, which is fine with me!
But here's a daunting question for all the Trump loyal Republicans out there. What happens to the Republican Party when Trump is no longer with us? And let's face it, Donald Trump can strut and fret his hour upon this political stage only so long. His re-election in 2020 is no sure thing. Besides, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution limits his term of office to eight years, MAX!! And who knows, it's not beyond the realm of the possible that his Big Mac diet may prove to be fatal a lot sooner than Dr. Ronnie Jackson surmised. Then what will happen to the political party that traded in its principles in favor of rigorous devotion to just one man?
Donald Trump may prove to be a political aberration. He may yet prove to be just another passing fancy. One thing we do know, there will come a time when Republicans won't have the good ship Donald Trump to hang on to. What will they do then? How can a party that so willingly gave up its principles to follow a wildly popular individual return to being a party that actually stands for something? I don't know but I suggest my Republican brethren start thinking about it, and SOON!!
Filed under: Politics