As someone who was a lifelong Republican until 2016, nothing is more surprising that, nearly three years into his tenure, Trump remains wildly popular among Republicans despite all of the tumult around his presidency.
How popular is he among Republicans, exactly? Forget Gallup polls that show him with a 90 percent approval rating among members of his party; a recent YouGov/Economist survey shows that 53 percent of Republicans believe that Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln.
And that's despite the fact that, according to a 2017 C-SPAN survey of the nation’s top presidential historians, Lincoln sits above all other presidents as the greatest of all time.
The Republican party has strayed far since the days of Lincoln; it’s shameful to see how Trumpism has hijacked it. It’s truly shocking how Republicans are allowing him to carry the mantle of conservatism too with little-to-no hesitation. Trump’s years in office have been full of nepotism, scandal, profiting from his position as president and now he is about to become the third-ever president to be impeached.
Republicans warned Americans about this type of behavior... if Hillary Clinton were elected, which is why they chanted “lock her up” so enthusiastically. So how can those same Republicans now honestly believe that Trump has, in any way, been a good president, let alone one of the best?
First off, he has given members of his family and personal friends with no qualifications unprecedented access to the Oval Office — something that Republicans suggested Clinton might do if elected president. Republicans now rush to offer support for the high-level positions that members of the Trump family occupy within their father’s administration.
Just imagine if Chelsea Clinton was named to a high-profile position in her mother's administration with access to classified information; conservatives would surely put up a fight. But between Ivanka Trump sitting in for her father at a G-20 summit and her husband, Jared Kushner, leading trade and foreign policy talks — let alone being put in charge of building the wall, fixing the opioid crisis, reforming veterans' health care, making the government run like a business and fixing the immigration crisis — there has been nothing but crickets from Republicans.
What’s more, when Jared Kushner was denied security clearance, Trump himself reportedly pushed it through, even though federal law “prohibits government employees from participating personally and substantially in official matters where they have a financial interest.” And while Kushner has divested from some of his family real estate interests he still has a lot of financial entanglements, causing real ethical concerns. Where is the outrage?
But even more fascinating in retrospect was the Republican concerns over the impact of the Clinton Foundation's dealings with and donations from foreign government officials if Clinton were elected. In the wake of the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment hearings and the release of the Mueller report, it's clear that Trump, people who worked on his campaign and his cronies had less than savory — and occasionally outright illegal — dealings with foreign governments, particularly Russia and Ukraine. But Republicans are rushing to Trump’s defense, claiming that there was no collusion with Russia in the last election and no quid pro quo with Ukraine over the upcoming election.
And if all of that isn’t bad enough, it's further clear that Trump and his business empire are profiting from his position as the president of the United States. Take, for example, Mike Pence traveling on official business to Ireland and staying at a distant Trump property after it was suggested by the president himself. While the vice president eventually paid for his family's stay personally, the expense for the security detail was footed with taxpayer dollars — and all that money went into Trump's pockets.
Couple this with the fact that 250 officials in his executive branch have made a collective 630 visits to Trump properties so far and 90 members of Congress have made 180 such visits. Then of course there was the suggestion by Trump himself to hold the G-7 Summit at his resort in Miami, Florida. He even had his acting chief-of-staff, Mick Mulvaney announce that the summit would be held there, but then backtracked three days later as a result of opposition from Democrats and — in rare consistency with their supposed principles — some Republicans.
Beyond all the evidence of corruption, though, Trump has also been the most divisive president in our nation’s history, according to a 2018 survey. From his Twitter rants and off-color statements to his pursuit of a travel ban and destruction of Obamacare, he's not even bothered to try to get support for his policies. Instead, he's forged ahead, continually pressed to build an impossible wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement and threatened to withdraw from NAFTA as a way to negotiate a slightly new version of it. All of these proposed or executed policies have been and would be detrimental to our allies, our people, our economy and our environment — but, hey, it made liberals really mad, right?
And now that Democrats are moving forward with articles of impeachment, Republicans are sure to ramp up their defenses. But they should be cautious in how far they’re willing to stick their necks out, seeing as the political tides will eventually turn and their defenses of Trump could one day be used against their efforts to hold a Democratic president to account.
It was clear Republican voters found the behaviors of the Clintons to be unacceptable; Republican officials should be eager to uphold the ideals of accountability, no matter which political party controls the White House. The problem is that these so-called morals are just a sham, and abandoning them is the only way to defend the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
No wonder Washington was and is so unpopular. The very thing Republican candidates warned about is exactly what they are now defending as proper and rightful behavior befitting of the presidency — and that is incredibly dangerous for the future of our republic.