Saturday, November 26, 2016

To Republican Senators Who Rejected Trump: Don't Abandon Your Principles

Everyone assumes that Republicans have control of the Senate and that Democrats will have to resort to endless filibusters in attempting to stop those aspects of Trump’s agenda that denigrate or attack specific groups of American citizens on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  But there is another possibility, which strangely I have not seen discussed in the media nor regarding which I have received any petitions.

Four Republican Senators publicly disavowed Trump prior to the election … Gail Collins (ME), Ben Sasse (NE), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Lindsay Graham (SC) … saying that he was unfit to serve as President, that he would divide the country, that he did not respect human dignity, and did not represent their party.  What should they do now?

Trump is making a show of reaching out to those who slammed him, such as Mitt Romney, but it is only show and indicates no moderation of his positions and attitudes.  His true intentions are shown by the consistency of his character, the major appointments given his cronies, and most scarily his naming Steve Bannon, the racist, anti-Semitic alt right guru of Breitbart News, as the White House’s Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor.  (News Flash: Trump tells The New York Times that he disavows the alt right and that Bannon and Brietbart are not alt right or racist.  So much for honesty.)

The four have a critical decision to make now which will impact the future of this country and the welfare of their fellow citizens.  The new Senate will have 51 Republicans (including them), 48 Democrats, and 1 Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.  Thus Trump/
Republicans only control the Senate by a 2-vote margin.  The four have the power to nullify that.

Will the four have the courage of their convictions?  The most courageous position for them would be to switch their party identity to Independent (there is precedent for this).  They wouldn’t have to caucus with the Democrats, which they would probably be uncomfortable doing.  Just changing to Independent, and not caucusing with the Republicans, would deprive Republicans and Trump of a majority and thus control of the Senate and its committees.  Since they didn’t vote for him for President because they thought he was unfit, this would seem appropriate.

However, they are life-long Republicans, hold the Party (at least in its former iteration) dear, and so switching would be unlikely.  The next option, still courageous, would be for them to work with Trump and the Republican majority when they can morally support measures before the Senate, but clearly indicate, ideally upfront and in concert, that they will vote with the Democrats to block measures that are morally unacceptable.

The last option, which would show no courage whatsoever, would be to cave in to Trump’s bullying and act as part of the Republican majority regardless the measure.  To vote in lock-step with the majority leader as they did during the Obama administration.

Upon their action depends the fate of the nation not just for the next four years but perhaps for the foreseeable future.  Each of these Senators will have to decide what to do.  The issue cannot be evaded.