Republicans need to decide if protecting Trump is worth the price of destroying their party
With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, Donald Trump has been able to operate as if he is above the law. Congressional committees tasked with oversight and protection of the balance of powers instead have served as Trump's personal protection racket. Even as Trump undermined national security, acting no differently than if he were an actual asset of a hostile foreign despot, Republicans but play-acted as if they cared, and in the end shrugged and abandoned even that pretense. They have supported his extremist agenda, and did nothing as he fomented every form of bigotry, even when it inspired murderous violence. But with Democrats soon to be in control of one house of Congress, things are about to change. And Republicans are going to have to make some choices.
The Democrats just won a massive wave election. The depth and breadth of that wave has become more clear, day by day, but Democrats picked up more House seats than in any election since 1974, just a few months after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace. Which may be a clue and a portent. As in this can get even worse for the Republicans. Democrats also flipped seven governorships, at least eight state legislative chambers and over three hundred state legislative seats, and now hold a majority of state attorneys general. Their overall national popular vote margin for the House rivals that of the largest Republican waves, with only unethical, undemocratic gerrymandering preventing their seat gain from being even larger. Even more ominously for Republicans, the usual national political battleground that is the suburbs swung hard for Democrats, and it's hard to see it swinging back even toward the middle anytime soon.
This election was a referendum on Trump, and Trump failed. And in failing, Trump failed his Republican Party. And the Republican Party that has been Trump's protector, enabler, and lapdog failed at the polls because of its failure to stand up for democratic principles and basic human decency. And soon to be subject to legitimate congressional oversight, Trump is in deep trouble, and his next-level meltdown since the election suggests that he knows it. Even the supposed Republican consolation prize of having netted one or two Senate seats is much less than it seems, and is, in fact, yet another warning, particularly to those senators who will be up for re-election in two and four years.
Democrats this year faced a brutal Senate map. They had incumbents trying to hold seats in numerous states Trump won, while Republicans only had one incumbent running in a state won by Hillary Clinton, none in a state considered reliably Democratic. Of the six Democratic incumbents running in solid Republican states, three lost, two won, and one race is in recount. And it's notable that the three Democrats who lost all voted against toxic Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which in some of the races might have made the difference. It's therefore important to extend gratitude and respect to Senators Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly for standing up for principle, even if it cost them their Senate careers. The same goes for Senator Bill Nelson, who also stood up for principle, and may end up losing his seat, once all the votes are counted. And Senator Jon Tester joins them in deserving praise for also voting against Kavanaugh, and his race turned out to be closer than expected, but his Senate career survived. But in two and four years, Republicans are going to have to defend more Senate seats in states that are considered blue or purple, and that's where the real story lies.