The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Trump has nothing more to deliver for the GOP, so why not dump him?

Charles Koch speaks in his office at Koch Industries in Wichita, Kan. (Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File)

Congressional Republicans made their Faustian bargain with President Trump: They would look the other way on personal finances and corruption and disregard his racist, anti-democratic outbursts for help in delivering tax cuts, a Supreme Court justice and some deregulation. (We find the bargain morally and politically indefensible, but it’s what Republican House and Senate leaders decided to accept.) When legitimate questions are raised about Trump’s unfitness and chaotic administration, they tell us, “But Gorsuch!” And, in the same vein, “But corporate tax cuts and Environment Protection Agency dismantling!” Now, however, their support for Trump may cost them majorities in the House and Senate as well, as losses in governors’ and state legislative races. The bill is coming due on their short-term gamble.

With Democratic optimism on the rise for a "blue wave" in 2018, here's their strategy for winning more state and national seats than Republicans. (Video: Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)

When you now look at the bargain the GOP has struck, it is evident that Republicans have gotten everything they were ever going to get. The tax cuts passed; Justice Neil M. Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court. But now what? The Trump-GOP agenda is effectively over, as you’ll be able to tell by an utter lack of legislative output for the remainder of the year. In other words, it is all downhill from here. The very likely flip of the House of Representatives to Democratic control (possibly the Senate, as well) will mean, at best for the GOP, a stalemate.

Trump for some time (as we’ve seen in 2017 and 2018 elections) has become a hindrance for the GOP. He’s now also a hindrance to Republicans’ agenda, not a help. The Post reports:

Trump’s protectionist turn is an unwelcome one, and it’s ushering in a period of great uncertainty for markets and companies. There was a belief — or at least a hope — among some business leaders that Trump wouldn’t do anything to threaten the uptick in economic growth that’s underway, but now they’re not so sure. . . .
Business leaders don’t know how to read this new phase of “MAGAnomics,” and they don’t have the same sway over Trump’s inner circle of advisers as they did when former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn and staff secretary Rob Porter, a more traditional Republican, had Trump’s ear.

Things have gotten so dicey even the Koch Brothers are rethinking their unwavering support for the GOP. Their network of organizations have spoken out against Trump’s tariffs, and they urged Congress to defy the president and make a deal on the “dreamers.” The Post reported last week:

Leaders of the conservative Koch political network are mad about President Trump’s tariffs, the failure to protect “dreamers” and runaway government spending. They’re frustrated congressional leaders do not feel a greater sense of urgency to pass more ambitious legislation during what could be the final six months of unified Republican control for a long time. And they’re worried that squabbling might derail their efforts to roll back financial regulations, expand access to experimental medicines and overhaul the criminal justice system.
For now, the network led by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch still plans to spend between $300 million to $400 million on politics and policy during the 2018 cycle. But they’re growing impatient, rethinking their approach and signaling a willingness to work more closely with Democrats on areas of common ground.

Republican candidates will face an onslaught of questions and attack ads about Trump’s continued irrationality, racism and outright lying. A handful of at-risk California congressmen will no doubt encounter blowback from the president’s hyped-up lies about illegal voting. (“So now the claim is not just that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally, but that millions and millions of people are voting many times each, in California alone,” my colleague Dan Balz reports on Trump’s West Virginia appearance last week when he literally tossed away his prepared script. “It would be easy to dismiss all this as more of the same — mostly harmless commentary tossed out to an audience of supporters by the president — all in keeping with what he does. Yet each time he comes back to this particular claim, it strikes anew at one of the foundations of a democratic society.”)

Don’t get me wrong. The GOP shows no sign of abandoning Trump before the midterms. But if the blue wave does cost Republicans their majorities, why exactly should GOP donors and lawmakers continue to absorb political blows on Trump’s behalf? They can sit back, let the special prosecutor do his work, and watch Democrats make Trump’s life miserable with non-stop hearings, subpoenas and maybe even impeachment proceedings. By 2020 some may even be asking: Hey, why are we still backing this guy? They finally might realize he’s wrecking the party, their financial gains and — oh, yes — the country.