Issac Bailey: From campaign trail to White House, GOP has excused Trump's actions
He says party's integrity and its commitment to American values should be questioned
Editor’s Note: Issac Bailey has been a journalist in South Carolina for two decades and was most recently the primary columnist for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman fellow. Follow him on Twitter: @ijbailey. The views expressed are his own.
It’s far too soon to declare there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during last year’s election. An FBI investigation into the possibility does not mean the Trump camp did anything wrong. Even in this crazy political environment, we should not forget that.
But it is not too soon to wonder aloud if the Republican Party really loves America.
Consider recent reports about what’s been happening to this country at the highest levels of power:
• President Donald Trump allegedly asked the FBI director for loyalty during a meeting about whether the director would be retained in the new administration.
• Trump kept Michael Flynn on for 18 days as his national security adviser after being repeatedly warned he was susceptible to Russian blackmail.
• Trump repeatedly asked the FBI director about an investigation in which he and his associates are potentially suspects.
• Trump admitted on national TV he was thinking about that investigation when he fired the FBI director.
• The firing came shortly after the FBI director made it known the investigation was being expanded and heating up.
• The President’s communications team – and Vice President Mike Pence – repeatedly told the America public that James Comey was fired because of recommendations from the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, but Trump admitted in a TV interview that he planned to fire Comey regardless of the recommendations he received from Justice Department officials.
• The attorney general had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because of questionable testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing, then recommended that the man leading that investigation should be fired.
As if to underscore his contempt for our democratic norms, Trump threatened the now former FBI director in a tweet Friday morning, writing, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
An NFL quarterback was deemed un-American and said to have disrespected the American flag because he silently kneeled in protest during the playing of the national anthem to highlight ongoing injustices, and much of that criticism was coming from Republicans.
Some of those same Republicans called the Black Lives Matter movement a domestic hate group because it dared to hold police to account for brutality and questionable shootings.
And yet they are either sitting on their hands or deflecting while the President of the United States openly admits to committing actions any one of which should elicit strong censure, if not something far worse.
Trump is President because the GOP walked away from its supposed principles. The party of “family values” chose a man who bragged about his adultery. The GOP stood by a man who was caught on video bragging about being able to get away with casually sexually assaulting women because he was famous.
Its nominee had risen to political prominence on the back of open bigotry, kicked off his campaign by calling most Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers and then proposed a complete ban on Muslim immigration. That doesn’t include his history of support for the railroading of five black and brown young men in New York into a conviction for a rape they did not commit and his company’s history of racial discrimination that dates back decades. Republicans did not care that he refused to release his tax returns like every major party nominee had done since at least the 1970s. They don’t care how the Trump family is monetizing the White House.
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Still, the GOP was willing to abandon its faith, its respect for women and any claims it had to actually believing in racial justice, all for Trump.
Despite that, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the GOP would shed its love of country for him, too. Given the silence – the cowardice – of so many Republicans, what else am I to think? If any of these events had happened under President Barack Obama, the Republicans would be screaming for impeachment hearings.
The United States made a huge mistake when it elected a man who had no moral compass. It made a bigger one when it gave Republicans the privilege – and responsibility – to check his power.