Republicans Afraid To Speak Out Against Trump Are As Bad The Trump Cultists

Those Republicans who recognize how bad President Trump is for he nation but are afraid to speak out against him are as bad as the true believers of Cult45.

Up until he retired in May 2018, Charlie Dent was a Republican Congressman representing Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, a sprawling district that stretches from the central part of the state north and west to the rural areas bordering Lake Erie. Since then, Dent has become a frequent commentator on CNN and a harsh critic of the Trump Administration. Nonetheless, it seems he’s still in touch with many of his former colleagues and in recent comments has been critical of those who still decline to speak out against a President that he clearly opposes. Despite that criticism, Dent contends that, behind the scenes, many Republican members of Congres are disgusted with the President and tired of his antics, but are afraid to speak out because they want to preserve their own political careers:

Former Republican congressman Charlie Dent said Thursday some of his former colleagues in the House of Representatives have privately told him they are “absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the President’s behavior.”

Dent told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on “Newsroom” that House Republicans are standing with the President at the moment because of base pressure, but said “they resent being put in this position all the time.”

Dent, who is a CNN political commentator, cited the Trump administration trying to “pivot from the Ukraine scandal” by announcing the 2020 G7 summit at the Trump National Doral resort. The decision was later reversed.

“Moving from one corrupt act to another,” Dent said. “I mean those types of head-exploding moments are just I think infuriating these members and I think they’d like to step out but they just can’t because of their base at the moment.”

Dent served as chairman of the House Ethics Committee from 2015 until 2016 and chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies from 2015 until 2018.

“I think a lot of members have to take a hard look at this,” Dent said. “They can be more concerned about their election, or their legacies. And I would argue to many of them: your legacy is more important than the next election.”

On some level, I don’t doubt that what Dent is saying here is largely true. Many of the top Republicans on Capitol Hill have been there for a long time. They know that what this President is doing and the manner in which he’ has been acting is not normal. They know that he is repudiating not only what Republicans used to contend were their core principles but also what used to be long-standing political norms, and indeed acting in direct contravention of the laws of the United States and the Constitution itself. And, no matter what they may say in public they likely know that this President has broken multiple laws not only in connection with the Ukraine scandal but in numerous other respects ranging from obstruction of justice in the Russia inquiry to his conspiracy with Michael Cohen to violate campaign finance laws to the self-dealing in violation of the Emoluments Clauses he has engaged in with respect to his Washington, D.C. hotel and other properties. Beyond that, I’m sure that they recognize the extent to which his policies on issues such as international trade, spending, immigration, and, most especially, foreign policy, have damaged the nation and set us down a path that could make the future very challenging and damaging.

There are, of course, other Republicans who actually believe the President’s nonsense and believe that his policies. By and large, these people consist of the more radical members of groups like the House Freedom Caucus and many of the Members of Congress who were elected either in 2016 along with the President or in 2018. Much like their MAGA hat-wearing counterparts in the base of the party, these people are largely unreachable. They are true believers who are fully prepared to go down with the ship when Trump’s inevitable end comes, whether it’s at the ballot box or through impeachment now or in the future.

The members that Dent speaks of, though, are as bad as the Trump true believers, and possibly worse. They know better than to back this man. As I said, they recognize the damage that is being done. And yet they either are remaining silent or, in some cases, saying one thing in public and another thing in private. Their failure to speak out doesn’t come from true belief, which I suppose would be understandable, but because they are placing their own political careers and the fortunes of their political party ahead of the interests of the country even though they obviously know better.

As I’ve said in the past, the Republican Party and what passes for modern “conservatism” can be divided into four basic groups.

First there are the Trump fanatics, the true believers I mentioned before. These are the people who make up the majority of the crowd at Trump rallies and are, as I’ve said before, are best written off by people seeking to change minds. They are the core of the cult of personality that has developed around this President.

Next up are the sycophants. These are people who don’t necessarily believe the Trumpidian nonsense but have adopted it nonetheless as a means of advancing their careers either as officeholders or within the rank-and-file of the modern conservative movements.

Closely related to the sycophants are the sellouts.. These are people who likely know better but who have nonetheless sold out to the Trump machine because they can find ways to profit off of it by appealing to the true believers.

Finally, there are the cowards. These are the people that Dent is speaking of, the ones who in private will tell you how outraged they are about the President’s actions and behavior but in public they are either silent or they repeat the same nonsense you hear from the rest of the Republican Party. Morally, these people are probably the worst of the four groups because they know better but they are failing to speak out not for personal gain but because they’re afraid of what might happen to them politically if they do. There are no profiles in courage here, only profiles in cowardice.

To be fair, there are some Republicans who do push back on the President. Justin Amash was among the most prominent of those people until he found he could take no more and left the party behind. In the Senate, former Senator Jeff Flake was notable for speaking out against the President, but of course, he really only started doing so after he had made the decision to retire at the end of 2018. In the current Senate, Mitt Romney has pushed back against some of the President’s more extreme actions but even he has done so with one eye on maintaining his support back home in Utah. Ben Sasse in Nebraska used to be a reliable source of Trump criticism, but he has largely been silent for the past several months in part no doubt due to the fact that he faces re-election next year and likely hopes to avoid a primary challenge from the pro-Trump crowd.

At some point, hopefully, we’ll get to the point where the entire Trumpidian house of cards comes crashing down and the GOP ends up paying the price for hitching its star to a poisonous influence like Trump. At that point, many of the people who are sycophants, sellouts, and cowards today will be coming out and trying to claim that they were “really” opposed to the President and shocked by what he said and did on a daily basis. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. If you don’t have the integrity or courage to speak out when the wrongdoing is happening, then your words after the fact are irrelevant. As I said many times during the course of the 2016 campaign, the GOP had a choice to make, It could go down the populist, nativist, xenophobic road paved by Trump and his supporters, or they could actually stand up for their country. They made their choice, and they deserve to pay the consequences for that choice as much as the President and his most fervent supporters do.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Fanatics, sycophants, sellouts and cowards, the taxonomy of the Republican Congress.

    Could not have said it better.

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  2. CSK says:

    Trump just Tweeted that King Salman has expressed his regrets for the shooting at Pensacola. Then he went back to bragging about jobs.

    Don’t want to offend Jared’s good buddies.

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    I’m just as pissed off with people like Rod Dreher over at TAC, who sanctimoniously burbles on about “Christian Ethics” but is perfectly happy to put up with Trump’s shenanigans in exchange for a future “support of religious freedom.” The fact that Trump plus his cronies are rapidly punching holes in our entire system of checks and balances is to be totally ignored.

    Your so-called “ethics” don’t count for much if you’re already shown what your price is.

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  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Republicans Afraid To Speak Out Against Trump Are As Bad The Trump Cultists

    I’d argue people who know something is wrong and go along with it anyways are actually worse than the true believers.

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  5. 95 South says:

    Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, a sprawling district that stretches from the central part of the state north and west to the rural areas bordering Lake Erie

    No. Check the link.

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  6. DrDaveT says:

    Morally, these people are probably the worst of the four groups because they know better but they are failing to speak out not for personal gain but because they’re afraid of what might happen to them politically if they do.

    Two quibbles:
    1. Morally, the deplorables are still the worst — racist, xenophobic, misogynist, nihilist, lazy, greedy, etc. Few or none of those have been elected to Congress.
    2. How is putting your political future ahead of dire threats to the nation not a case of “out for personal gain”? They would rather preside over the smoking ashes of our democracy than take a stand and lose the cushy gig.

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  7. mattbernius says:

    @95 South:

    No. Check the link.

    Yup, looks like he got confused with its neighbor the 16th

  8. Kathy says:

    “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to stand aside and do nothing.”

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  9. Scott says:

    A few comments:

    1. There is no more Republican Party. It is not the party of Lincoln. It is the political heir of George Wallace. Yes, Reconstruction ended far too soon.

    2, Why are these politicians afraid of them and the President? Trump has shown over and over again what a weak, sniveling coward he truly is. I just don’t get it. The power of rationalization is astounding.

    3. This discussion reminds me of the conventional wisdom a decade or so back about the Arab Street and how Middle East politicians can do anything because of them. I think that is just an excuse. And possibly an illusion to be challenged.

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  10. CSK says:

    @Scott: They’re not afraid of Trump; they know he’s a flabby weakling. They’re terrified of Cult45.

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  11. Moosebreath says:

    @mattbernius:

    “No. Check the link.

    Yup, looks like he got confused with its neighbor the 16th”

    No, he’s looking at the map after the 2018 court-imposed redistricting. Charlie Dent represented the Lehigh Valley (Allentown, etc.). From the Wikipedia article:

    “From 2013 to 2019, the district stretched from the suburbs east of Harrisburg to communities east of Allentown and the New Jersey border. Counties located in the district included all of Lehigh County and parts of Berks County, Dauphin County, Lebanon County, and Northampton County.

    From 2003 to 2013 it comprised all of Northampton County, most of Lehigh County, and small parts of Berks and Montgomery counties. The district included the Lehigh Valley, Indian Valley and Upper Perkiomen Valley regions. In the mid-20th century, it included Tioga County. “

  12. Hal_10000 says:

    I have very little tolerance for this “Republicans secretly hate Trump” garbage. Put up or shut up.

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  13. PJ says:

    @Hal_10000:
    He could name them, and then they would all deny it. Again, they are all cowards.

    So, what’s the point in doing that?

  14. andros says:

    It is indeed difficult to fathom the mentality of those who prefer Trump to what the “progressives” have to offer. I mean, how could anyone be so selfish, so mean-spirited, as to prefer their group health insurance to equally rationed, homogenized medical care? And ach, the crude, raw racism of those who balk at flinging the doors open to the tens of millions (so worthy, so deserving) who yearn to come here. And what rational objection can be raised to free damn-near everything? The income, and wealth, are there for the taking. All must be subordinated to the Greater Good.

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  15. Mister Bluster says:

    Another One Bites the Dust
    Duncan Hunter to resign from Congress after holidays
    Hunter is the second member of Congress facing a federal criminal trial who subsequently pleaded guilty and resigned this year. The other was former Rep. Chris Collins, a New York Republican, who was set to stand trial for insider trading charges. Collins and Hunter were two of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress.

  16. mike shupp says:

    On the bright side of things — there’s something to reach for, even if it ain’t much — those of us interested in history can finally understand what was going on in Roman minds back in the eras of Claudius and Nero. Or when the Third Reich was at its peak.

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  17. grumpy realist says:

    @andros: Since Trump and the Republicans are interested in getting rid of the very wimpy version of government health care without any idea or plan of what to replace it, your second sentence makes about as much sense as a load of dingos’ testicles. And as for the rest?

    Damn, with that number of straw men I could outmanoeuvre the Family of Blood. Ever thought of seriously engaging thought and brains, rather than being a troll?

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  18. DrDaveT says:

    @andros: If nothing else, @andros, you serve a useful purpose here by demonstrating that the joke about what Republicans want — the one that ends with “as long as the n*gger under the next overpass doesn’t have a coat hanger” — is more truth than fiction.

    It must be so cramped there in your zero-sum world. I’m sorry.

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  19. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Put up or shut up.

    Hear, hear!

    Also, I don’t believe there are that many. and what few may be cowering in fear, likely are putting this story out so they can claim some form of vindication when and if the crash comes. I’m sure we’ll be amazed when and if this happens, at the number of Republicans who will claim to have worked quietly behind the scenes, at great political risk to themselves, to ameliorate the worst of Trump’s excesses.

  20. Jax says:

    @andros: What’s your family history? Where did your family come from? Unless you are First Nation, you, too, are descended from immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants, and we WERE stronger for it….until people like you came along.

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  21. Scott F. says:

    Doug, I actually think you’re giving the “cowards” too much credit. Re-read the key quotes from Dent: his former colleagues are “absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the President’s behavior” and “they resent being put in this position all the time.” It’s awfully generous to read that and credit these colleagues with any regret for the damage being done to the norms of American governance by Trump or any aversion to his populist, xenophobic vision for the country’s future.

    Instead, a more straight forward reading tells us they are merely tired of Trump making it harder for them to pursue the same nativist direction for the country he has staked out. Being asked daily to respond to Trump’s latest boorish tantrum, or to translate some racist thing he has said out loud back to the dog whistle wording they prefer, has to be exhausting.

    The cowards of the GOP don’t want to stand up for the values of this country. They just to reclaim the veneer of respectability they had when Reagan and the Bushes were the face of the Party.

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  22. An Interested Party says:

    Didn’t Republicans used to talk about how great and how necessary term limits were? Now they are only interested in keeping their jobs and their power for as long as they can, even if that means having to kiss the ass of a buffoon…

    And ach, the crude, raw racism of those who balk at flinging the doors open to the tens of millions (so worthy, so deserving) who yearn to come here.

    It’s amusing how you characterize that position as racist and then go on to prove you’re a racist…well done…oh, and by the way, immigrants who risk everything to try to come here and make better lives for themselves and their families are actually far more worthy and deserving of being here rather than a xenophobic chump like you…

  23. andros says:

    Oh, th’ bucket’s got a hole innit.

    MSNBC’s Zerlina Maxwell on Joe’s “Hunter” malarkey: “This issue is going to come up. This is the whole centerpiece of the impeachment hearing” (We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Red State, 12-6-19.)

    The Senate is obviously setting a bear trap for Schiff and Biden.

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  24. steve says:

    First met Charlie not long after he was first elected. Asked my partner and I if we were interested in helping him write some health policy he was working on. I didnt agree with all of his policies but I did agree with his disdain for the radical extremists that were taking over his party. I watched him at several meetings deal with some of the people who would just parrot whatever they heard from Hannity and Limbaugh (or worse) making it pretty clear he wasn’t buying into the newest, hottest conspiracy theory. In short I came away with the sense that he had some integrity. Was not surprised at all that he left office.

    Steve

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  25. al Ameda says:

    @andros:

    MSNBC’s Zerlina Maxwell on Joe’s “Hunter” malarkey: “This issue is going to come up. This is the whole centerpiece of the impeachment hearing” (We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Red State, 12-6-19.)

    I agree. I think Trump has succeeded in “Hillaryizing” Biden, he’s damaged Biden pretty far in advance of the election, but it’s damage nonetheless. Trump will deservedly be impeached, but really, he probably sees this as a success regardless.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @andros: And you are stupid enough to step in it. And by “it” I mean the steaming pile of dog shit served up daily by FOX, and then you proudly smear it all over your face and hair and say, “Ain’t I stupid?” (I’m paraphrasing of course because there is no telling what will come out of your mouth but it can always be summed up by the phrase, “Ain’t I stupid?”)

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  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott F.: At least when people were resisting the Austrian with the funny little moustache there was the actual danger of being dragged out in front of a firing squad and shot. Here–what’s the worst that will happen? That the Mangolini will tweet mean insults at them?

    How in the heck these wimps survived kindergarten I have no idea….

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  28. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist: No, they’re afraid that Cult45 will vote them out of office.

  29. andros says:

    About that “innuendo” Trump is basing his defense on: I see that some of the Warren and Sanders supporters have begun to show their claws on this issue on Democratic Underground. A few quotes:

    There were people in the Obama Administration who expressed concern about Hunter’s business activities there.

    I agree that Biden needs to come up with a better answer. His don’t ask don’t tell policy was an important mistake.

    Somebody on Biden’s team better come up with an answer for this because lying low on the issue isn’t working very well.

    I don’t think we should put our heads in the sand and pretend this story hasn’t spread to half the country by now.

    Trump will hit him hard on his son. He needs to do better than he did there because that reaction isn’t going to work. The media and the Republicans will have a field day with that.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @andros:
    Dude, no one gives a fuck. Investigate Biden all you like.

    We will go on impeaching the corrupt, racist, misogynist, treasonous pig that fools like you put in the White House.

    Here’s a deal Democrats will happily make: if Trump stops obstructing justice, shows his taxes and stops ordering his people to ignore subpoenas, we will happily encourage Hunter Biden to testify.

    Is that a deal you’re ready to endorse? Spoiler: No, you’re not. Because you know Tangerine Jesus is a guilty POS who belongs in prison.

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  31. al Ameda says:

    @andros:

    I agree that Biden needs to come up with a better answer. His don’t ask don’t tell policy was an important mistake.

    I don’t think we should put our heads in the sand and pretend this story hasn’t spread to half the country by now.

    (1) Did I miss something here? Did Hunter Biden, through his father, and by extension, his position with Burisma, ask the Ukrainian government, to investigate Donald Trump? Or did he ask the Ukranians to hide Hillary’s email server in a strip mall/business park in Kiev (Kyiv)?

    (2) The bar is now at ground level: Half the country still believes in the Birther assertion that Obama was not an American, that Hillary had Vince Foster killed, that Hillary odered the DNC to have Seth Rich Killed.

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  32. andros says:

    @al Ameda:
    No, I think the “progressive” concern, reflected in these comments, is that Joe turned a blind eye to Hunter’s self-enrichment spree, peddling, for millions, the appearance of “insider” influence. That concern isn’t going to be dissipated by smart aleck trolling.

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  33. Jax says:

    @andros: If only you cared as much about the Trump kids’ self-enrichment spree…..

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  34. David M says:

    @andros:

    Hunter’s self-enrichment spree, peddling, for millions, the appearance of “insider” influence.

    Ah yes, that’s the obvious and most pressing issue of corruption right now.

    Such bad faith when Trump is openly accepting bribes himself, each and every day. It’s beyond ridiculous.

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  35. MarkedMan says:

    Can someone ban this racist sh*tposter already? Like virtually all Trumpers he’s never going to seriously engage