If Republicans do not want to take advice from him, perhaps they will listen to some of their own members. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) pulled no punches:
TAPPER: Do you still have confidence that President Trump will eventually do the right thing?HOGAN: Well, I have confidence that, on January 20, the president-elect is going to be sworn in, but I’m not sure I could say that I’m confident that the president’s going to do the right thing.Look, I thought the pressuring of the legislators to try to somehow change the outcome with electors was completely outrageous. And, quite frankly, I mean, we used to go supervise elections around the world, and we were — we were the most respected country with respect to elections. And now we’re beginning to look like we’re a banana republic.It's time for them to stop the nonsense. It just gets more bizarre every single day. And, frankly, I'm embarrassed that more people in the party aren't speaking up.TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that.I mean, I wish I could say otherwise, but you're in the vast minority in the Republican Party in, A, acknowledging that Joe Biden is the president-elect and will be sworn in on January 20, and, B, calling on President Trump to concede.Why do you think so few of your colleagues are willing to demonstrate even basic integrity and honesty here?HOGAN: Well, I just don’t think there are a lot of profiles in courage, frankly, Jake. I mean, you — we all know how vindictive the president can be, how powerful his Twitter account is, and how he can really pressure Republicans and go after them.Very few of us are willing to stand up. But there are more and more, I mean, a number of my gubernatorial colleagues, a number of senators, quite a few House members. And I think that’s slowly growing every day. And I think the others are quietly talking and telling the president their advice about what he should do. He’s just not following any of the advice.
After watching a clip of his father, Rep. Lawrence Hogan (R-Md.), speak out against President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal, Hogan conceded that only a few Republicans such as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) are “standing up and speaking out pretty strongly. But there’s an awful lot of them that are not.” He added that “history will judge everybody, just as they did during Watergate.”
Former national security adviser John Bolton added his voice to the small chorus of Republicans declaring we are past the point of any reasonable legal challenges. He also indicted weak-kneed Republicans:
Biden will be sworn in. I think the real question now is how much damage Trump can do before that happens.I mean, right now, I think Trump is throwing rocks through windows. I think he's the political equivalent of a street rioter. I think he's given up on the legal issues. This is not a matter of litigation and law. He's lost, I think, all but two out of 34 cases that have been brought around the country.I think what he’s trying to do now is sow enough confusion that he can break through what’s called the safe harbor provision in the electoral college process. I think he’s playing for as much time as he can, hoping that something will happen.But I think this is now — this is not a legal exercise anymore. As we saw on Friday, when the Michigan legislators were called to the Oval Office, this is now an exercise of raw political power.
He laid into senior Republicans who need “to join those who have begun to come out and say Trump’s behavior is inexcusable." The Republican Party, he said, is “not going to be saved by hiding in a spider hole,” reminding his fellow party members that Trump’s legal theories are a joke. (“He doesn’t have any evidence. He doesn’t have any legal theories.”) And he added a noteworthy caution: “The longer Trump rambles through our electoral system causing damage without Republican opposition, the more the Democrats are going to say that it is a Republican Party characteristic, and that you can’t trust them with the instruments of government. … But until people hear that, I think they will continue to be deterred from coming back to the Republican Party.”
I fear Bolton is naive to think Republicans can hang on to Trump voters by explaining to them that “you can lose an election fair and square, even though it hurts.” But they cannot win national elections — or state elections outside deep-red states — by refusing to adhere to democratic principles and accept reality. If the majority of Republican voters, who do not form an electoral majority but are critical for Republicans’ victories, really do not believe in democracy and cannot be convinced of blatantly obvious facts, Republican politicians will remain trapped in Trump’s parallel political universe. The elected Republicans who have allowed Trump’s authoritarian tactics (compulsive lying, attack on the truth, racism, fearmongering) to become the norm in their party will have no one to blame but themselves.
Republicans who failed to take on Trump not only created a monster, but also misled their own base, rendering them unable and unwilling to accept the results of an election. These politicians and right-wing media personalities are as responsible as Trump for the MAGA masses who believe they are persecuted, regard pressure on election officials as fair game, buy into crackpot conspiracy theories and no longer accept the premise of democracy.
The Republican lawmakers who tell their base that Democrats want to take away Thanksgiving or hate Christians reinforce the white grievance mentality that Trump whipped up. The Republican senators and House members who mouthed Russian propaganda and simply lied to the public about the evidence of Trump’s impeachable conduct made their own voters more ignorant and antagonistic toward factual evidence. The lawmakers who scream that Facebook (where the top-performing posts often come from conservative pundits) is out to get Republicans or that climate change is a hoax have turned their base into an unhinged mob for whom facts are irrelevant.
The problem is not merely Trump; nor is it the cowardly elected Republicans who refuse to stand up to his treacherous attempt to steal an election. The disturbing and more difficult conundrum is that they’ve turned tens of millions of voters into gullible consumers of Trumpian nonsense. Even if elected Republicans wanted to speak truth to the MAGA crowd, I am not certain many will listen.