There’s a pretty good chance that it won’t be too long from now that Republicans will wake up and have an “oh shit” moment about Donald Trump being in the White House. It might happen in near-unison or it might unfold in stages.
Few people are actually good at admitting mistakes or acknowledging that they made errors in judgment. This is particularly difficult for Republicans who seem to have more certainty that they are right, about nearly everything.
There are times when we all must walk back from positions that we have taken. Millions of Americans once professed that Bill Cosby was the role model for all men – the ultimate father and family man. When word began to leak out about the way he sexually abused dozens of women, his support faded. At first it was with hesitation; later it had the momentum of a cascade.
Every day, Republicans are on the brink of disaster with President Donald Trump. The more executive actions he takes, the more nominees that he sends to Congress, the more abrasive his words are along with those of the likes of Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Michael Flynn and Stephen Miller, the more he backs other Republicans into a corner. The closer we get to the elections of 2018, the more distance they will want from Trump.
In the twelve days of his presidency, he has done more damage to Americans and global citizens than most presidents could possible do in an entire term. He has embarrassed himself unlike any previous presidents, except that he is immune to his own embarrassment. What he has not done is something as drastic as cutting entitlements such as Social Security or Medicare. He has not gotten the United States into armed conflict.
But once his failures reach a new level, his Republican “friends” will abandon him. They will plead that they never really supported him.
Some will say that in the seventeen months in which he was a presidential candidate and the two-and-a-half months in which he was president-elect, he got away with one outrage after another without paying the proper price. But now that he is actually in the White House, he has his hands on the levers of power. To Republicans, they may be toys to be bent, spindled and mutilated, but to the entire world they are serious business.
When things tumble, it will be an “oh shit” moment for Republicans. They will abandon Trump in droves. But this does not mean that the party will crumble. In the 1970s, the Republicans survived Watergate, and by 1980 they rose again like the phoenix and recaptured the presidency and both houses of Congress.
Most Republicans are less concerned about integrity than most Democrats. They can be comfortable acting like chameleons. As they do this, they still try to portray themselves as “America’s Party.” They succeed in doing so when Democrats are not united (almost a given) and when Democrats are amorphous because they do not present a clear progressive agenda.
If we had a do-over of the November election tomorrow, Clinton would win both the popular and electoral votes in a landslide. But it won’t be tomorrow, and next time there may well be different candidates for both parties. “Oh shit” is not the same for Republicans as Democrats. For Republicans, it’s just the cost of doing business. For Democrats, it means they’ve really screwed up.
It will happen to Republicans, and when it does, Democrats have to show how they contrast with Republicans. Get away from the big money, the sleaziness and the counterproductive policies. Give the progressive agenda another chance to shine.