As CNN notes, “While most of those districts are reliably red, three are considered vulnerable — those represented by retiring Reps. Susan Brooks in Indiana, Pete Olson in Texas and Will Hurd in Texas. Hurd announced his decision Thursday night in a surprising statement.” Hurd is the sole black Republican House member, a stunning statistic considering that 53 House Democrats are African American. In the entire Congress, a single African American Republican, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), would remain.
Republican elected officials are becoming more solidly pro-Trump, more white and more male.
Not coincidentally, Republicans in the Trump era are losing House seats (more than 40 in 2018), governorships (down a net 6 in 2018) and state legislatures. (“Six chambers changed partisan control in the 2018 elections. Democrats captured the Colorado State Senate, Maine State Senate, Minnesota House of Representatives, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire State Senate, and New York State Senate. . . . In 2018, 322 incumbents, including 49 Democrats and 253 Republicans, were defeated in the general elections.”)
While Hurd told The Post he objected to Trump’s racist tweets (“When you imply that because someone doesn’t look like you, in telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you’re implying that they’re not an American and you’re implying that they have less worth than you”), he insists that he will still vote for him, the perfect pathetic encapsulation of Republicans’ moral vacuousness. They know he’s a racist, they know racism is despicable and anti-American, but, by gosh, he’s their man for president.
When Republicans say that the party must support a racist because of tax cuts or judges or some other excuse, they are not only saying racism doesn’t matter all that much, if at all (if everything else takes more precedence, racism becomes irrelevant); they are also saying they won’t even go to the trouble of finding a non-racist Republican who would cut taxes and appoint conservative judges. Hurd could, of course, support former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld or urge Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) to run as a Republican, but he didn’t. Trump might shoot off some nasty tweets, or talk radio and Fox News hosts might drum up criticism.
The moral cowardice of elected Republicans is matched by their low opinion of their own voters (whom they assume don’t want to dump a racist president). The latter assumption might be justified, given that Republican voters overwhelmingly support Trump, knowing (or willfully denying) that he’s a racist, a liar and a bully.
Since Trump’s election I’ve suggested that the current Republican Party is irredeemable. A party so thoroughly corrupted and devoid of intellectual and moral integrity cannot be rescued from itself.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said at the last debate that “if you are watching this at home and you are a Republican member of Congress, consider the fact that, when the sun sets on your career and they are writing your story, of all the good and bad things you did in your life, the thing you will be remembered for is whether, in this moment, with this president, you found the courage to stand up to him or you continued to put party over country.” But of course, we already know that virtually all of them won’t, and even those offering tepid criticism won’t publicly refuse to support him in 2020. (In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Buttigieg conceded, “They are enabling all of the wrongdoing that this president has brought with him — from inaction on Russia interference to naked racism.”)
A feasible approach following the 2016 election to defeating Trump, rescuing the GOP from itself and sparing the country four more years was to appeal to the better angels of Republicans’ nature. That, however, is a useless exercise, in 2019.
Shouting into the wind brings us no closer to a Trump-free GOP or a Trump-free White House. The only plausible path at this point is to crush the Republican Party so resoundingly at every level that it is forced to abandon Trumpism, recruit an entirely different generation of leadership and devise an agenda that is not based on right-wing nationalism. Helping Democrats achieve that end should be the goal of all decent Americans — including Republicans who want one day to be able to vote in good faith for a Republican Party true to the tradition of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.