By early March, we will already be in the midst of midterm primary races. Republican incumbents who tried to minimize their public interactions with large groups of constituents for fear of being verbally mauled by voters irate over their positions on health care or taxes or over their cheerleading for President Trump will have no choice but to come out of hiding. Sen. Susan Collins, for instance, is not even on the ballot in 2018, but if the protests at her Maine offices are any indication, Republicans will find it hard to hide from their constituents and to dampen voter anger.
When voters get the chance to engage with lawmakers, they should make the most of their opportunities. They might start with these questions:
- If President Trump fired former FBI director James B. Comey to shut down the Russia investigation or tried to pressure him to let up on Michael Flynn, whom the president understood to have lied to the FBI, would that be an impeachable offense?
- Would you vote to require all presidents to release their tax returns?
- Why have you not sought a single hearing on the president’s potential receipt of foreign emoluments and/or conflicts of interest?
- Are Trump’s attacks on the FBI justified? If not, are they an improper abuse of his power as chief executive sworn to uphold the Constitution?
- What specifically are you prepared to do if Trump fires Robert S. Mueller III or pardons his relatives?
- Trump refuses to acknowledge that Russia interfered with our elections and has taken no action to protect our electoral system. What do you believe, and what have you done in this regard? Is the president derelict in his responsibilities by refusing to protect the United States’ democratic election system?
- Do you think only Congress can authorize a first strike on North Korea? If so, what are you prepared to do to defend that constitutional prerogative?
- What have you done to make the cost of health insurance cheaper for Americans?
- If the tax cut is supposed to be for the middle class, why did you vote to lower the top rate to 37 percent? To create a 20 percent deduction for pass-through companies that rich people set up? To raise the exclusion for the estate tax?
- If you promise that the middle-class tax cuts won’t be allowed to expire, isn’t the debt created by the bill going to be much higher than projections based on the fiction that these cuts will be allowed to expire? How is that fiscally responsible?
- Do you believe the women accusing Trump of sexual assault are telling the truth? If so, why did you support him in 2016? Should he be the party’s nominee in 2020?
- (For U.S. senators) Do you regret voting for any nominees? Why did you vote for judicial nominees ranked “unqualified,” including those who dropped out after a public hullabaloo? What would it take for you to vote against a presidential nominee?
- Do you think “dreamers” should be deported? If not, why haven’t you done anything to protect them?
Time and again, Republicans have defied the voters’ wishes — be it in voting on a massively unpopular health-care bill or declining to protect dreamers. The job of holding them accountable now falls to the voters.