Republican Senators Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain have been receiving many kudos for speaking out against Donald Trump’s worst behaviors, lack of character, and unfitness for the presidency. But do not be fooled: These Senators are not moral heroes.
Our mothers, fathers and other wise advisers have long told us to pay more attention to what people do than to what they say. That adage has never been more apt than it is today, as people laud Flake for speaking out on the Senate floor, Corker for blasting Trump in the halls of the Capitol, and McCain for criticizing Trumpian behavior [without mentioning his name] in media interviews. Their words have been characterized as courageous—at a time when “courage” is defined as saying what is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer. And you can call that courage, if you like, because at least they are speaking out, when others won’t. But what are their actions?
Just hours after speaking on the Senate floor, saying that he would no longer be “complicit” with the Trump agenda, Senator Flake betrayed his own promise by voting for a bill that guts consumer protections. The result is that Flake enabled Trump to get what he really wants—a legislative “win” that he can brag about. How is that not being complicit, Senator Flake?
The same goes for Corker and McCain. Both of them joined all of the rest of the Senate Republicans voting for the bill.
Sure, Flake’s speech yesterday denounced “Trumpism.” But that term has been given far too much credence. Calling something an “ism” usually means that there is a thought-through philosophy behind it. That is certainly not the case with Trump. “Trumpsim” isn’t a philosophy: It’s a random series of irrational, spur-of-the-moment, reactive utterances, tweets and tantrums whose only coherent theme is defiance, anger, bragging and lying to shore up his fragile ego, winning at any cost, and destruction of anything relating to Obama.
“Trumpsim” isn’t a philosophy: It’s a random series of irrational, spur-of-the-moment, reactive utterances, tweets and tantrums whose only coherent theme is defiance, anger, bragging and lying to shore up his fragile ego, winning at any cost, and destruction of anything relating to Obama.
So, if you’re fed up with these kinds of behaviors, Senators Corker and McCain, why are you voting for bills that reward them?
More specifically, in the case of the CFPB bill you just voted for, Trump probably knows exactly zero about what was in it. The pesky details and the inner workings of the CFPB are likely of no interest to Trump. What he hates about CFPB is not its policies, but its provenance: It’s an Obama-era programm which, by some definition in Trump’s angry, egotistical brain, must be erased. Also, Trump is desperately lusting after a legislative win. So, by voting to gut provisions of CFPB, Senators Flake, Corker and McCain, you are doing Trump’s bidding. How is that courageous, Senators?
If you really oppose what Trump has been doing to the presidency, democracy, and foreign policy, speaking out is nice. But your power, Senators, is not just in your voice, it’s in your vote. Keep talking, but show us that you mean what you say by acting — in the interest of your country, not just your party — on your much-ballyhooed convictions.