There is an old saying, “Virtue is its own reward,” attributed to the Roman author Claudian. In today's politics, we can state that the reverse is also true — vice is its own punishment.
Or perhaps it is Newton’s fifth law at work: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
In 2016, both parties offered flawed candidates. Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote but thanks to the workings of the Electoral College, Donald Trump won the election. The Republicans played to popular resentment of flaws in the Affordable Care Act. But when they attempted to repeal it without replacement, they found out that the voters much preferred it to nothing at all.
Then came the Republican wipeout in the Virginia election, followed by the astonishing result in Alabama. We must note that in Alabama the Republicans offered the worst possible candidate; one who stated that the days of slavery were the good old days, who in 2011 suggested that all amendments to the Constitution other than the first 10 should be wiped out, who had been removed from the state Supreme Court for cause not once but twice, and who had an alleged fatal habit of sexually harassing teenage girls. The wonder is that the election was even close.
The Republican-proposed tax bill offers large cuts to the wealthy donors and to corporations, and only token cuts, if any, to the middle class. It is widely unpopular and, if passed, will surely be a strong talking point for the Democrats in November 2018. A Democratic majority in both houses is possible.
However, November is a long way away and much damage to the nation can occur in the meantime. Indeed much damage has been done already. Not one of our allies around the world respects President Trump. The president and his two buddies, Steve Bannon and Vladimir Putin, are a fatal threesome.
The president’s worst enemy is his own ego. In his daily intelligence briefings, oral mentions of Russia are verboten and in the written text are buried deep. He just doesn't want to hear that bad news.
Clearly this particular would-be emperor cannot accept any criticism of his lack of administrative clothes. His deliberate damage to the departments of government may please Bannon but shocks most others in the body politic, Republican or Democrat.
There are many sensible and patriotic Republicans in Congress. We must rely on them to do the right thing. They are caught between two loyalties, to their party leadership on one hand and the national interest on the other. Hopefully they will form an unspoken partnership with the Democrats and independents to stave off future damage done by this hugely unpopular president. By so doing they will also preserve the reputation of their own party. For 2020, they need to come up with another Reagan, or Eisenhower, Gerald Ford or George H. W. Bush for president, not our present petulant and incompetent man-child.