Many Americans are still shocked that Trump is in the Oval Office and their rage is focused on the President alone. They forget that many other stand behind him. The entire Republican Party shares the blame.
The scandal regarding his people's links with Vladimir Putin’s Russia can be easily compared with the Watergate affair that toppled Richard Nixon. Both episodes began with an election-year break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters, in 1972 with burglars with flashlights and in 2016 with hackers and passwords. But the apparent objective was the same: the acquisition of damaging political intelligence. In 1972 orders came directly from the President Nixon. In 2016 the orders came from the Russian president.
If Trump’s associates told the truth immediately about their contacts with Moscow, they would now be confronting controversy and not scandal. It has become a pattern now: senior Trump officials Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions deny having any contact with the Russians – only to be contradicted by the facts. Then they have to explain why they lied. Watergate showed that one lie can spawn hundreds of others, and it’s the subsequent lies that get you.
However, four decades ago Nixon was forced to resign because Republicans in Congress deserted him. They put their partisan allegiance aside in order to act against a president who they saw as endangering the republic. This time, the picture is very different.
Some Republican senators have vowed to hold Trump to account, but most of them are prepared to turn a blind eye to the President’s actions simply because of his party affiliation. The House intelligence committee is still keen to investigate only one scandal: Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
What I'm saying is that it’s not just Trump. Last week Republicans waved through more of the President’s absurd cabinet appointments: Ben Carson, who had earlier declared himself unfit to head any department because he had “no experience” will be in charge of housing and urban development. Republicans also ratified Rick Perry as energy secretary - who famously forgot that energy was one of the departments he wanted to abolish.
Now Republicans are in charge and Trump is their face. He is merely the face of a deeper Republican weakness. For decades, Republicans cast themselves as the party of family values, wagging their finger at anyone who fell short of the moral standards they set. But when Trump came along, promising them the tax cuts and seats on the Supreme Court they craved, all of that went out the window. Suddenly they were prepared to embrace a thrice-married worshipper of mammon who bragged about sexually assaulting women and happily assessed his own daughter as “a piece of ass”.
For decades Republicans wrapped themselves in the flag, claiming a monopoly on patriotism, casting themselves as the heirs to Ronald Reagan and all those who stood strong against Russian authoritarianism. Yet now, delegates to the CPAC ultra-conservative conference will happily wave little Russian flags.
How long will this last? Will impeachment ever be more than a fantasy? For an impeachment to happen Republicans will have to take an action. And that means they will have to change themselves.
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