Too Little, Too Late
The embrace by some Republicans of an eleventh-hour exercise in political hygiene appears to be a last-minute attempt to cleanse themselves of the accumulated stench of four years of Donald Trump. Republican officials and elected leaders are leaping like rats off a sinking ship, scattering like cockroaches when the light is on, or any other analogous metaphor you like that accurately describes those now leaving Trumpism behind as if they never believed in it at all. The attempt at an eleventh-hour exercise in political hygiene should not mitigate their four years of supporting four years of authoritarian impulses, racist policy, and wanton destruction of our Democracy. Their pleas for unity and attempts to distance themselves from the President are nothing more than naked attempts to avoid necessary accountability.
Don’t get me wrong. It is good to see politicians like Senator Pat Toomey walk away from the dark side, but please forgive me if my welcoming of them into the light is shaded with a bit of skepticism. Having harvested all he could from his symbiotic host, he is merely tossing aside the hollow corpse of this failed administration.
If admitted sexual assault, Muslim banning and “good people on both sides” was previously acceptable, what is now unacceptable? If kids in cages, silence on Khashoggi and pardoning war criminals was tolerable what is now intolerable? If a cabinet dedicated to gutting the departments they were appointed to lead, unparalleled nepotism and judicial appointments lacking in both character and qualifications was bearable what is now unbearable? If opening the Alaskan tundra to oil companies, telling governors besieged by wildfires they need to rake more often and throwing paper towels to hurricane victims was appropriate, what is now inappropriate? If a “perfect” phone call to the Ukrainian president, playing toady to Vladimir Putin and exchanging love letters with a murderous North Korean strong man was all right, what now is all wrong? If hundreds of thousands of needless pandemic deaths was a liberal hoax, what is now obvious truth, what changed?
The seditious incitement of an insurrectionist mob that went on to desecrate the brick-and-mortar symbol of our enduring democracy and was allegedly planning to execute public officials may justifiably be the one act that crossed the line for some previous allies of Donald Trump. However, if any of the newly informed “ex-Trump” enablers had demonstrated the courage to stand up to our American Mussolini, we may never have come to the point where we are now.
Republicans now seeking some degree of redemption including Senator Pat Toomey, man of many titles - Mick Mulvaney, Mitch McConnel’s wife and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chou, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and others fall into the “too little too late” column. It is right and good to acknowledge those who can no longer tolerate the behavior of a narcissistic would-be authoritarian dictator. However, it is also prudent to reserve some skepticism and demand accountability and recompense from those who enabled Trump for so long only to now see the light.
For those who profess to have seen the light and remain members of Congress or the United States Senate, a test of their sincerity will come soon when the House moves to impeach Donald Trump and, provided the Articles of Impeachment are passed, the Senate holds a second impeachment trial. Donald Trump’s second impeachment should be the beginning not the end of this process. Those like Josh Hawley and Jim Jordan, not to mention countless others including some from right here in Pennsylvania, must be held to account for their actions. Without accountability, behavior will not change, history will one day be repeated, and our democracy will remain forever weakened. Let’s hope their rhetoric of redemption is manifested in their future actions.