The time has come for disloyal Republican lawmakers in the GOP to pay for their indiscretions. The first two casualties are in the books. Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not be running for reelection in 2018. Their openly disrespectful attitude towards President Trump is the primary reason they have to go.
The Senate’s current distribution of Republicans and Democrats has made it difficult for the president to keep his campaign promises. With a 52-48 split in the Senate the president needs his caucus to stay united to enact new controversial legislation such as the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Unity has been elusive.
What has made the demise of these two senators even more dramatic is their overt condemnation of Trump personally on and off the Senate floor. Yesterday, Flake rose up in session to announce his decision not to seek reelection. Afterwards, he proceeded to lambaste the president. It is rare that a lawmaker denounces a president from his own party in such a manner.
Corker and Trump have been playing tit for tat for a few weeks. The president is “disappointed” with Corker’s performance as chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations. Trump said Corker worked with President Obama to implement the Iran Nuclear pact, which the president has denigrated repeatedly. Corker has retorted that he regrets supporting Trump for president and will not back him in 2020. Also Corker indicated that Trump does not have the demeanor or the ability to be a good president.
The most important objective of a senator is to be reelected. After all if you lose your seat, you lose your influence and power. For Corker and Flake the odds were high that they would be opposed in their primaries. For some reason both men thought they could challenge Trump without dire consequences.
Having come to the realization that they must give up their seats, why wouldn’t both men just walk away? Ego and revenge are probably two of the factors that caused these men to continue to feud with Trump. Would they be happier to see an extreme left-wing Democrat in the White House in 2020?
Further complicating the status of these senators are their objectives beyond retaining their seats. What group is more important to a lawmaker, his or her constituencies or the national party? Were they driven by principle when they opposed their president and denigrated him publicly?
There is a lesson to be learned from the Democrats. After being obliterated in 2016 they have managed to have an impact on the political landscape because they have remained united against Trump. Unfortunately for them it is their only claim to fame- to be obstructionists. The party has not offered creative solutions to any of the problems facing the US.
Republicans are in a position to govern without support from the opposition because they control both houses of Congress and the presidency. But men like Corker and Flake divided Republicans. They have given Democrats the power to deter Trump’s initiatives.
Trump is right to demand loyalty. He always calls out fellow party members when they stray or are incompetent. This is critical because his power base is so tenuous.
Trump has the power, with help from Steve Bannon, to unseat other disloyal lawmakers in the primary process. Bannon is orchestrating several situations to rid the Republican Party of those who have not supported the president. There will be more casualties.
You may say Republicans are in disarray, but fear not. Democrats have no effective leadership or an agenda that would cause the majority of voters to support them.
It should be noted that Corker and Flake have said they would remain through the 2018 elections. This means that Trump and his loyal followers may need them to support controversial legislation like tax reform. Will these senators take the high road, or will they oppose good legislation to spite Trump?