Trump Country

Consider the source: Politico, the house organ of what used to be the Republican Establishment:

This is the new Republican Party: The final GOP holdouts to Donald Trump whimper into oblivion.

Put a blond combover on the elephant. Take down the pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

It’s over. It’s Donald Trump’s GOP.

The anti-Trump candidates are fleeing, and the ones who stick around are getting trampled. The chill has gone out among whoever’s left: there’s no more speaking up, and if there is, it’s just for the sake of a speech, a protest quote that quickly disappears.

They chalk it up to party loyalty, or staying unified for the midterms. They say they still believe in the principles, but they don’t tend to do more than say the words. Then, when the microphones are off, they confide. They complain. They nurse fantasies that there’s a reckoning coming, that maybe this will all end with the Republican Party nominating someone like Eisenhower. Or at least like Paul Ryan.

And each time they watch another of their own go down, they wince, try to move on. Don’t look back. Try to forget. …

Sanford is a former governor of his state and well established member of the House. He’s broken with his party many times over other issues. He’d been around forever. He was durable. But he couldn’t withstand fighting Trump.

So, Republicans wonder, why would anyone else — especially a backbencher — even try?

“People become disenchanted with the way democracies work. A strongman comes along, says, ‘You’ve got to give up some freedoms, but if you do, I’ll take care of these problems for you,’” Sanford said late Tuesday in his concession speech. “We’ve got to stay true to this notion of the democratic principles that our founding fathers laid out.” …

The party of free trade has gone protectionist. The party of spreading freedom and never negotiating with dictators is now full of praise for chumming it up with Kim Jong-un. The party of fighting deficits has blown a trillion dollar hole in the budget.

Family values and moralizing have been replaced by porn stars and Twitter tantrums. Trump goes to war with the G-7, and the sum of the Republican reaction is a statement from John McCain and a few comments on Sunday TV from Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

There aren’t committee hearings. There aren’t bills put on the floor. There aren’t votes that force the president’s hand. It’s well into cliché that the only people who speak out against Trump are the ones who’ve already been chased out of reelection and are heading to their cushy cable and lobbying gigs. …

Sanford declared in his concession speech that “we are a nation of laws, and not men. It is part of my creed that I believe in as a Republican: that I am indeed to cower before god, but no man.” He described his primary as part of “an inflection point” for the country and the GOP. “There’s been too much made of, ‘Are you for one personality, or against it?’ What we’re about as a nation is not being for one, or against one personality.”

“I stand by that belief although in this case it may have had significant electoral consequence,” he said.

Then Sanford walked away from the microphone and headed back to his final months in Congress. Meanwhile at her victory party, Sanford’s opponent, state legislator Katie Arrington, said, “We are the party of President Donald J. Trump.”