President Donald Trump’s Russia scandal is testing the resiliency of America’s democracy. Still, Republicans have stood by the president for months despite damaging revelations surrounding the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Republican lawmakers would like nothing more than to focus on their domestic policy agenda undisturbed. However, that agenda carries a tremendous political cost with the mounting evidence that the president may have committed obstruction of justice by trying to impede an ongoing FBI investigation.
Americans live in a highly-partisan epoch, where Trump has counted on a sizable and enthusiastic base of support. He has endured a lot flagrant moments: lewd comments on “Access Hollywood”, criticism of Gold Star parents, ridicule of a prisoner of war in Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and mockery of a disabled journalist, just to name a few.
Despite the growing plumes of smoke billowing from the Trump-Russia connections, supporters still cannot abandon President Trump in favor of the country’s interests. Why?
Many people are in denial and cannot discern facts over biased or misleading information in conservative media. This can be attributed to the groundwork laid out by the late Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, who fused television’s power to conjure feelings of anger and resentment to an ideology of cultural populism that demonized the liberal establishment.
Ailes set forth the methods and message that would steer conservative attitudes and sow distrust of the Democratic Party. Donald Trump has mastered this form of propaganda. He espoused a variety of the same brand of politics: the substitution of bluster for reason, the angry scapegoating of others and the blind hatred and exaggerated fear of liberals in power.
Trump has capitalized on these endless appetites. As a result, many right-wing conservatives doubt the revelations reported by mainstream news into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
Other mainstream conservatives remain silent and hopeful that Trump can weather another turbulent storm. That’s because opposing the president is a difficult proposition for Republicans, who are loath to cross the leader of their party. The prospects of their seats in Congress and the success of their agenda, from tax reform to healthcare, are closely tied to the success of the president.
Politics is America’s favorite indoor sport and for many, it’s all about winning. For those who share Trump’s zero-sum viewpoint, there’s nothing more important than supporting their “team” in the political power struggle. What’s more toxic is the conspiracy of silence from those who find it politically expedient to avoid speaking out against a seemingly treasonous web of connections between the president and foreign adversaries.
The central puzzle of Trump’s presidency, from the start of his campaign to now, has been his alignment with and outreach to Russia. The United States’ post-World War II adversary is only interested in advancing its influence, unraveling sanctions and undermining the U.S.-led democratic world order.
Last month in Brussels, the president could have underscored what all of his predecessors have done for nearly 70 years. Instead, he advanced Russia’s agenda by omitting a robust endorsement of the NATO mutual defense pledge. Trump’s discord with the NATO allies is not a victory for America, it’s a victory for Russia’s President Putin.
Think of what has transpired to this point — a hostile foreign adversary has chosen to violate our sovereignty and influence our democratic process. Rather than condemn Russia and defend America’s allies, values and institutions, Trump has aligned with Putin. Trump is the first president in history under an FBI counterintelligence investigation, and likely under a criminal obstruction of justice probe.
The president fired the man in charge of that investigation, and, in the midst of all of this, he hosted the Russian foreign minister and volunteered highly-classified information exposing a sensitive intelligence source.
Trump degraded morals and standards all the way to the White House. Republicans have another moment to choose whether Trump reflects America and serious issues of national interests. Many already recognize that the travails of the Trump presidency might torpedo the GOP’s chances to keep seats in Congress.
While many rank-and-file Republicans are still marching faithfully behind the president, there’s evidence to suggest that his constituency is eroding.
Trump is a liability and there’s a tremendous risk to Republicans in thinking he is immune from political gravity. The disturbing revelations into Donald Trump should energize conservatives to rise above petty partisanship and stand up for all Americans. Did Trump commit treason to advance his ego, enrich his the business empire, and then cover it up? We need to come together to obtain the truth and choose the best interests of our country.