It's Not Surprising That Republicans Are Staying Quiet After Trump's ‘go Back' Tweet

By now, it's not a surprise that congressional Republicans are largely silent as President Donald Trump attacks four American congresswomen in language that, outside the GOP, has been widely condemned as racist.They've learned over the years that they have nothing to gain by speaking out against Trump, and plenty to lose — like their jobs.Let's go back to one of the first high-profile times that Trump used, in Republicans' own words, racist language. Trump was the Republican nominee for president and was accusing a judge overseeing a lawsuit about Trump University of bias because of the judge's Hispanic heritage. At the time, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called it "the textbook definition of a racist comment."What happened to Ryan? Trump won the election, Republicans embraced him, and Ryan retired after two years rather than keep trying to play nice with Trump.The next time Trump used language about race that shocked the nation was a year later, during deadly protests led by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. A neo-Nazi supporter was recently convicted of murder for killing a young woman when he rammed his car into a group of peaceful protesters. Yet at the time of the attack, Trump said, "I think there is blame on both sides."Ryan said language like that was wrong, but maintained he wasn't going to do anything about it.Former Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee tried to. Once on a shortlist for a Trump Cabinet post, Corker decided to use his leverage as a known Trump ally to say this: "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful."Corker saw his popularity in Tennessee plummet. He is now retired.In the 2018 midterm elections primary season, some of the House's most conservative Republicans were in danger of not even winning their primaries. Why? In the case of Rep. Martha Roby in Alabama, voters remembered how she said she wouldn't vote for Trump because of the way he bragged about sexually assaulting women in an Access Hollywood tape released in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.She eventually won her primary. But another outspoken Republican critic of Trump wasn't so lucky. Trump tweeted the day of South Carolina's primary for Republican voters to knock out sitting congressman Mark Sanford. And they did."We're playing with real fire in a reason-based republic," Sanford told me shortly after losing his primary.Seeing a theme here? Republicans who have spoken out forcefully and memorably about Trump are no longer Republican officeholders. It is overly simplistic to say these Republicans retired because of their battles with Trump — though in Ryan's case, a new book suggests that might be true. But all of them saw the writing on the wall: I can either speak out about Trump, or I can keep my job. One Republican member of Congress is kind of testing that theory. On Sunday, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas became the lone Republican lawmaker to condemn Trump's remarks, tweeting that Trump "was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any 'home' besides the U.S." Though in that same tweet he made sure to qualify how supportive he is of Trump's immigration policies.Self-preservation is the default mode of any politician. So when Trump attacks Democratic lawmakers, who are regular boogeymen on Fox News anyway, there's no political incentive for Republicans to say anything about it. That's the way Trump has engineered the Republican Party, to be able to get away with whatever he wants to say. And it's working.Amber Phillips is a columnist for The Washington Post.  Continue reading...

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