Republicans in Congress won't abandon the president until it is politically necessary in order to save their job. Next week’s congressional special election in Montana, and Georgia’s 6th congressional district race in June are being closely watched.
Talk of congressional Republicans abandoning President Donald Trump has grown a bit in recent weeks with the plethora of scandals surrounding the businessman turned politician, but don’t look for a flood of changing attitudes until, at least, the results are in from a few special elections later this month and next.
Trump has been pummeled with bad news in recent weeks: He asked the FBI director investigating his administration’s ties to Russia to “let it go,” and then fired him when he wouldn’t. And this after earlier, according to reports, asking for his loyalty like in some third-rate mob movie.
He divulged highly classified information to Russians in a meeting in the Oval Office where the Russian press was welcomed and the American press was kept out. And now a special prosecutor has been brought on to get to the bottom of this whole Russian mess, which likely won’t be good for his administration.
The constant barrage of scandal is bad enough for how it makes the Republican Party look. But more importantly, the daily revelations take away from the party’s ability to accomplish any meaningful legislation or to move their agenda forward.
This is unprecedented. One would be hard-pressed to find any time in American history where a single political party held the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and the presidency and still was unable to pass any legislation. And considering that Trump has not even reached the 150-day mark in his presidency, and with the growing number of scandals emerging daily, Republicans in Congress likely aren’t seeing any light at the end of the tunnel – or any time in the near future when they might be able to focus their energy on advancing their conservative agenda.
Sure, Trump has made some executive actions – much like President Barrack Obama did when he was faced with Republican majorities in the House and Senate who had vowed to oppose his every move. And Democrats today are returning the favor. You’d have to look long and hard to find a Democrat in Congress that would support any Republican objective. But Democrats are the minority party.
Republican infighting and Trump himself are the main reasons the party can’t get anything done, and if you remove Trump from the picture, it would likely be a bit easier to get the warring Republican factions to come together on at least a few pieces of legislation.
But Trump still enjoys tremendous support among his base, and it is that base of voters that Republicans are most worried about. Gerrymandering has worked well in creating congressional districts that are safe from the opposing party. But gerrymandering doesn’t protect you from your own party, and too many Republican members of Congress are still worried that if they publically break from Trump it will invite primary challengers in the 2018 midterms.
Basically, what it comes down to is they would rather protect their own job and paycheck by staying with Trump instead of breaking away from the president, helping get some conservative agenda items passed (ironically the same items that many of the Trump supporters say they want) and potentially losing their job in the next election.
Next week’s special election to fill a congressional seat in Montana, and Georgia’s 6th congressional district race in June are being closely watched. Montana’s race is in heavy Trump country, but the GOP had to pump extra money into it because the Democrat is gaining strength. Likewise, the Georgia seat hasn’t gone to a Democrat in decades, yet the GOP is spending a lot of money there. Democrats hope they will win, but even if they lose by only a percentage point or two, it will be pretty big indicator since the races are in districts that lean so heavily toward Republicans and, up until recently, weren’t even considered up for grabs for Democrats.
If the GOP holds their seats in these and other special elections, Republicans in Congress will continue to stand by – or at least not go against – Trump. But if Democrats prevail in any of them, or if it looks like fewer Republicans were motivated to go out and vote, look for a wave of defections as Republicans look to distance themselves from an increasingly toxic president.
Jim Lee is editor for Gatehouse Media Delaware. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.