Republicans Believe in Nothing But Trump

Republicans once took a hard line against Russia. Now they applaud Trump for kowtowing to Putin.

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia answer questions from reporters in Helsinki, Finland, July 16
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia answer questions from reporters in Helsinki, Finland, July 16 (White House/Andrea Hanks)

The latest Axios/SurveyMonkey poll finds that fewer than one in five Republicans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s news conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, where he called into question his own intelligence agencies’ findings of Russian interference in the 2016 election and blamed the United States as much as Russia for the poor state East-West relations are in.

An astonishing 79 percent of Republicans said they approved of Trump’s performance. Only 33 percent of self-described independent and 7 percent of Democrats agree.

This was once the party that took a hard line against Russia and blamed Barack Obama for “apologizing” for America. Now Trump kowtows to the Russian dictator and most Republicans applaud him for it.

Speaking up

Axios argues that this is why elected Republicans go so silent so quickly when they disagree so strongly with President Trump: “They fear it’s political suicide to speak up.”

The same argument could be made about the conservatives media.

But the argument could also be made the other way around. By not speaking up, Republicans who are appalled by Trump’s behavior allow him and his sycophants to dominate the right-wing information bubble.

Republican voters — clearly — have no firm principles. They can go from anti- to pro-Russian, from favoring free trade to protectionism, from small government to cronyism, in a matters of years, which means they can be persuaded to change their minds again. If only somebody tried.