2 thoughts on “A Thoughtful Conservative Rebuttal to Voting Out Congressional Republicans

  1. Thread from David French, with some comments from me.

    Conservatives don’t need to “burn it all down” to repudiate Trump, but they do need to do this to eradicate Trumpism.

    This is one of the more compelling arguments–namely, Democrats didn’t vote to remove Clinton, so how can you expect Republicans to do the same? Ultimately, I don’t find this answer persuasive for at least two reasons:

    1. Comparing Clinton and Trump are apples and oranges. Clinton was not an incompetent, authoritarian that posed a danger to the American republic or the world.

    2. Put aside the Senate vote to convict. Republicans have either actively or passively enabled Trump. Had they vociferously spoken out against him; started investigations, where it was warranted (and there were many instance; or enacted policies and laws that protected the nations. For example, they could have passed (or at least voted) on a law to protect the upcoming elections–including the a law that would require candidates to report to the FBI if they were being approached by a foreign government to interfere in the election. They could vociferously shoot down Trump’s claims that mail-in ballots will “rig” the election.

    Policies are important, but not more important than the rule of law and the critical norms and institutions that we need for a liberal democracy. Republicans aided and abetted the erosion of this. And going back to my first point: If they do not lose big at the polls, they will not change their behavior. I do not believe a Trump loss will eradicate Trumpism. But I do think a big political loss to Trump supporting Republicans will. Indeed, I think it’s the only way.

    I will concede this decision is incredibly difficult, and I’m not sure I would have the moral strength to do the right thing. But then again, I did not run for office, get elected, and swear an oath to defend the Constitution. Moreover, as I mentioned above, this wasn’t the only moment of failure for congressional Republicans–there were too many to count. Yes, each of them would have been difficult, but does French absolve them of all these situations–the Russian bounties; Helsinki press conference; “Many fine people on both sides;” using his office to enrich himself; letting Bill Barr politicize the DOJ and protect Trump and his allies

  2. More comments to French’s thread/article above

    With regard to French’s argument, asking voters if they would have the moral courage to do the right thing, here are some additional comments:

    1. I have doubts I would have the courage to go into a burning building or engage in shoot out, but firemen or police officers who lack this courage, especially repeatedly, should no longer be in those jobs. They are not fit for those positions. Similarly, if congress persons cannot forcefully oppose an executive when he/she behaves in an illiberal, authoritarian, corrupt, or dangerously incompetent way–especially on a consistent basis–then they are unfit for Congress.

    2. If French disagrees, would he apply this standard to Democratic congress persons when the POTUS is a Democrat? Will he defend voters for not voting out Democratic congress persons who consistently remain silent, or, at best, express concern, when that POTUS violates crucial democratic norms and actively undermines important checks on his/her power? To say it another way: Is this the standard French wants to set for future congress persons? I strongly disagree with him, if so. If this is the standard, then we need our system of government doesn’t provide an adequate defense against an illiberal or autocratic Executive.

    French also gives this argument that I want to respond to:

    And it’s not just because the alternative argument would require them to display historic courage. It’s because the alternative argument would also require them to defy their constituents—the people who put them in office—and in most cases completely immolate their careers.

    My question is, isn’t there a time when a politician’s duty and conscience requires them to defy their constituents, even if it means immolating their career? I assume French agrees, and I wonder when he things that would be. If voters think the POTUS can use the DOJ to protect the POTUS and attack his enemies, does French really think this isn’t a time when congress persons should defy constituents? I’d like to know when this is appropriate.

    By the way, here’s an example of the type of forceful pushback I would have liked to have seen much more often from congressional Republicans:

    I think it would have made a difference in containing Trump, and if more Republicans did this, more often, French’s argument to not burn down the GOP would be more persuasive.

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