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Opinion | What’s the Matter With Republicans?

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The reply to that query is sophisticated, and it goes effectively past the incontrovertible fact that Mr. Trump is advancing sure insurance policies they consider in. The case for Republicans casting a vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 on these grounds is defensible, although I made a unique selection. But right here’s what’s additionally true: Republicans might help Mr. Trump’s agenda whereas concurrently condemning his corrupt conduct. Yet the overwhelming majority of them refuse to take action. Something extra is happening right here. In order to search out out what, I spoke to a number of former Republican officers and aides, who all requested anonymity so as to converse freely.

Understanding the shut compact between Mr. Trump and the Republican Party begins with acknowledging the false hope many institution Republicans positioned in the shady actual property mogul as he rose to energy. They misdiagnosed the particular person they have been coping with, assuming that Mr. Trump would “grow in office” and that they, the “adults in the room,” would be capable to management and comprise him. At the outset of this unholy alliance, they have been satisfied they might change Mr. Trump greater than Mr. Trump would change them. But the transformation turned out to be in them, not him.

Nor ought to one underestimate the position self-interest performs in the Trump-Republican relationship. “All people in elective politics are interested in self-preservation,” a Republican who served in the Senate informed me. “Any negative comment by a Republican in Congress about the president would invite trouble in the next election either in the form of opposition in the next primary or lack of support in the general.”

“Until Republicans feel their existence is threatened by Trump’s mendacity and corruption, most will be blind to it,” a former Republican presidential aide informed me. “That isn’t to say there won’t be leading indicators of potential moral restoration,” he mentioned, “but in the meantime, the cowed stay in line like the trophies of a bully.”

“This storm has more staying power than most,” he added, ominously.

There’s additionally this to think about: For many Republican members of Congress, the president is extra well-liked amongst Republican voters of their districts and states than they’re. Even in the districts of average Republicans, Trumpist true-believers are the most vocal supporters of the occasion, the ones who do the important grass-roots work. So to go crosswise of a sitting president of 1’s personal occasion invitations political hassle, which most politicians search to keep away from. That is very true with regards to Mr. Trump, who makes a speciality of savaging Republicans — and everybody else, for that matter — who dare to criticize him.

“They don’t want to get bludgeoned,” an individual who served in Congress informed me. “Their mind is looking for a rationale for not having to do it.” In addition, this individual added, Mr. Trump has “conditioned people in the base so much so that it’s just ‘us versus them’ and that if you give an inch on him, you’re just giving the other side what they want. You’ve made yourself a ‘useful idiot.’”

“It’s easier to stay with the tribe,” this particular person informed me. “It’s easier to stay with the team.” Even when the chief of the staff is totally corrupt.

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