Fifty-three Republican cowards: Hold them responsible
Great country that we are, there are still shameful moments in our history. Among them: 1857, the Dred Scott case, when the Supreme Court upheld the institution of slavery; 1942, FDR’s Executive Order, which forced the relocation and incarceration of Japanese-Americans; 1950-54, the failure of President Eisenhower and other leading Republicans to repudiate the ugly red-baiting by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. And the list goes on.
As bad as they are, however, we’ve experienced perhaps the most shameful moment of all: February 2020, when 53 cowardly Republican senators refused to hold Donald Trump responsible and toss him out of the White House. In so doing, they not only ignored overwhelming evidence – all of which has subsequently been confirmed – that Trump tried to bribe the president of Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election and, on multiple occasions, abused the powers of his office to obstruct justice, they also degraded the image of the United States by ratifying Trump’s criminal, ugly, racist, boorish behavior as acceptable conduct for the highest officer of the land.
Fifty-one Republican senators voted not to call any witnesses in the Senate trial. Fifty-two Republicans, all except Mitt Romney, voted to acquit him of abuse of power. Fifty-three, including Romney, voted to acquit him of obstruction of Congress. In the end, all 53 Republican senators put their party above country. And we’ve been paying the price ever since. Just consider the disasters we’ve suffered over the last six months.
For his incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his disastrous and premature attempts to force reopening of the economy, his insensitive response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and his shocking failure to act on reports that Russia was paying bounties to members of the Taliban for killing American soldiers – Yes, blame Donald Trump. But blame especially those 53 Republican senators who voted to keep him in office.
On the coronavirus. After first denying or minimizing the risk and refusing to set an example by wearing a mask, Trump suddenly declared the virus over, stopped talking about it, and urged states to reopen bars and restaurants. The result: more COVID-19 cases in more states than ever before, with 200,000 projected to die of the disease by October 1. Blame Trump, yes. But also blame the enablers who kept him in office.
After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, when millions of Americans across the country took to the streets to protest repeated examples of systemic racism in police departments, Trump called protesters terrorists, ordered the use of tear gas and armed troops to clear streets around the White House for a photo op, and denounced Black Lives Matter as a “symbol of hate.” Blame Trump, yes. But also blame the enablers who kept him in office.
And, in the most unbelievable display of lack of presidential leadership, when intelligence agencies warned the White House that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, Donald Trump – who’s never discovered anything yet about Vladimir Putin he doesn’t admire – did absolutely nothing. Repeat: Russia reportedly pays members of the Taliban to kill American soldiers and Donald Trump orders no investigation, takes no action, and instead, calls it a “hoax.” Again, blame Trump. But also blame the enablers who kept him in office.
Trump’s response to each of these crises proves that he’s unfit to be president of the United States. But remember: Trump wouldn’t still be there, these disasters might not have happened, or might not have been so severe, America could have been spared – if only those 53 senators had done the right thing.
Unfortunately, we can’t boot all 53 Republican senators out of office at the same time. But 20 Republican senators are up for re-election this year (see cookpolitical.com for full list) and must be held responsible. No matter what other good things they may have done in the Senate, for their vote to acquit Donald Trump, for that one vote alone, every one of them – every one of them – should lose their seat. And no one deserves to lose more than Susan Collins.
“I believe that the president has learned from this case,” she told CBS News in trying to justify her vote. What nonsense. As we’ve seen over the last six months, the only lesson Donald Trump learned from not being convicted in the Senate is that as long as there are cowardly Republican senators like Susan Collins, he can say and do anything with impunity. But, hopefully, not after November 3.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)