Have Republicans finally found their groove?

After almost a year of shooting blanks, Republicans, specifically Congress, finally have a major legislative achievement under their belts. Senate Republicans, unified and in a party line vote, passed a major tax overhaul. In the House, the bill passed easily. A few House Republicans voted against the bill, virtually all from high property tax deduction states, voting to represent their constituents, knowing the bill would still pass without their votes.

Better late to the party than not at all, but why did it take until the end of the year for Republicans to finally get their act together? To realize they are the majority party. To understand that they were elected, along with President Trump, to further a conservative agenda. Building a wall. Repealing Obamacare. Cutting taxes. And more.

The president and congressional colleagues were giddy with excitement after the final vote at the White House celebrating the bill’s passage. Senator Orrin Hatch gave a heartfelt and emotional tribute to the president’s leadership, joined by colleagues also praising the president.

Gone was the criticism of President Trump over his tweets and demeanor. NeverTrumpers in Congress have dropped their “Resist we much” mantra, to borrow a phrase from Al Sharpton. Mitch McConnell acknowledged, "Regarding the president's tweeting habits, I haven't been a fan until this week." 

Are they finally realizing that perhaps there is method to the president’s seeming madness? Are the tweets simply brain farts between the dozen Diet Cokes the New York Times asserts the president drinks every day? Or are the tweets strategic, deliberate, and highly effective? Propelling Trump from a candidate riding down the Trump Tower escalator to sitting in the Oval Office.

Why the change in heart? Why couldn’t they have passed a tax bill last spring or summer? Why wait until now? Several reasons.

First, winning is more fun than losing. Certainly, for congressional leaders, driving legislation across the finish line, especially for tax cuts, is a core Republican issue. After the Obamacare repeal nothingburgers, Congressional Republicans finally have something to crow about, good news to bring back to their districts for the Christmas recess. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, subjects of derision for their lack of accomplishment, are at least for this week, heroes.

Second, next year’s congressional midterms. Realizing that legislative ineptitude is not a winning formula, Republicans have an issue to run on next fall. If they failed to pass the tax bill, GOP voters would have rightly asked, “Why vote Republican?” and stayed home on election day, realizing that it didn’t matter.

Regardless of their personal feelings toward Trump, members of Congress do want to be reelected, maintaining their perks and power. Presidents come and go but senators and congressmen live forever, serving far longer than any president. Can’t do that without being reelected. Repeatedly. Ask John Conyers who has been in Congress since the Beatles had their first hit songs.

Third, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation is going nowhere. It’s becoming more apparent that the “Muh Russia” story is a hoax, a scheme concocted as “insurance” to prevent Trump from winning the election, using a weaponized FBI and DOJ. Pushing the collusion narrative to cover their conspiratorial tracks as Conservative Treehouse and Doug Ross have carefully detailed.

The Trump dossier, serving as a basis for the entire story, is bogus. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told House investigators that the only piece of the dossier that could be verified is that, “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow.” That’s it. Except the part about Trump once pouring Russian dressing on his salad.

The collusion investigation is a big boomerang, heading back to chop heads off the deep state operatives in the FBI and DOJ. Rather than Trump going to jail or being impeached, many prominent Democrats and deep staters may be the ones on the hot seat.

Congressional Republicans, reading only the Washington Post and watching CNN, may have believed the entire story. Fearing that they would go down with Trump, they kept their distance. Out of political expediency, similar to the Democrats distancing themselves from Al Franken and the aforementioned John Conyers. Watching the collusion story crumble as Congressional committees peel back the layers of the onion, fair weather Republicans are realizing that it’s safe to get back in the water.

Finally, Republicans have finally realized that Trump is a winning horse. Reagan, not Nixon. Or either of the Bushes. He had a great first year, accomplishing much despite an overwhelming and unrelenting assault from the media and their Democrat allies. Those opposing Trump have been steamrolled. Why would Congressional Republicans want to suffer the same fate when hopping on the Trump train is far easier and politically expedient?

Regardless of reason, Congressional Republicans have finally found their groove. The question is will they keep it up or fall back to old ways in the new year? If they can remain unified with the President and each other, think of how much they can accomplish. And maintain their Congressional majorities for a decade or more. Let’s hope this new-found unity is an overdue awakening rather than a flash in the pan.

Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.


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