Republicans may still be basking in the glow of controlling the federal government, but the honeymoon is already starting to wane. President Donald Trump has gotten off to a rocky and controversial start as America’s latest chief executive by seeking to make good on campaign promises that most rational citizens thought were hyperbole.
From a harsh immigration crackdown, including a proposed border wall, to nominating a slew of eyebrow-raising cabinet secretaries, Trump has put his entire country on edge. However, the bombastic billionaire may have overstepped his mandate by publicly blasting the mainstream media.
Trump’s strong criticism of the press has, in turn, earned him a tongue-lashing from a respected elder of his own political party: U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain’s warning that suppressing the free press is “how dictators get started” is only the latest in his many digs at the president.
And that’s just since the inauguration less than a month ago!
The Trump/McCain feud began almost two years ago, when Trump was just one of seventeen Republicans vying for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
In an astounding move, Trump mocked McCain’s former status as a Vietnam War hero as a former Prisoner of War by declaring that he liked people “who weren’t captured.” Many, including myself, thought that Trump’s unorthodox campaign would fizzle out quickly after that moment.
Unfortunately, it did not. But now McCain might slowly get his revenge… And give the struggling Democratic Party a golden opportunity.
If John McCain can turn even a handful of Republican senators against president Trump, the Democratic Party could finally begin chalking up some legislative victories.
It won’t be too hard to split some Republicans from the herd. Two GOP senators already split from the president over his controversial Secretary of Education nominee, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos, requiring vice president Mike Pence to cast a historic tie-breaking vote in the Senate to confirm her.
From his controversial nominees, to repealing Obamacare, to erecting a border wall, Trump is making life hard for congressional Republicans in swing states.
Every time John McCain speaks out against Donald Trump, he emboldens more Republicans in Congress to follow suit. Although most GOP leaders have avoided criticizing the White House, they do have re-elections to worry about. The year 2018 will be here soon, and you can bet your butt that Democratic candidates will be demanding that Republican incumbents explain why they voted for controversial nominees like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or EPA head Scott Pruitt.
When the Republicans stammer something about party unity, their liberal challengers will remind them that veteran politicians like U.S. Senator John McCain and U.S. Representative Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) were brave enough to speak up.
There is also an existing group of anti-Trump Republicans in the Senate who may become more vocal over time, following the lead of McCain and Sanford. The most ardent among them is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who ran against Trump for the 2016 presidential nomination and recently criticized Trump’s continued allegations that he lost the popular vote due to voter fraud and illegal voting.
A fellow defense hawk and military officer, Graham is politically close to colleague John McCain. As a South Carolinian, he is also close to Mark Sanford. If he becomes more vocally anti-Trump, he could persuade fellow 2016 Trump rivals (and Senate colleagues) Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to follow suit.
Young Marco Rubio, residing in a swing state, may need to distance himself from the White House’s hard-knuckle brand of conservatism if he wants to be re-elected in 2022. As a victim of Trump’s vicious mocking, he may be harboring a desire to strike back at the bullying billionaire when the time is right. And Ted Cruz, though an outspoken conservative like Trump, engaged in a bitter primary slug-fest with the New York tycoon where insults flew, and tempers melted.
Even Rand Paul of Kentucky did not emerge unscathed.
As the mainstream media continues to reveal the malicious incompetency of Donald Trump’s administration, it grows ever more likely that braver conservatives like John McCain and Mark Sanford will embolden Trump’s vanquished primary election rivals to return to the limelight as his opponents. Some, like Rubio, may even begin working with Democrats to help win re-election in swing states.
Democrats in Congress should do what they can to encourage outraged conservatives to speak out against Trump’s un-American rhetoric – it could make a world of difference!
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.