Republicans have always been good at discipline. Right now they are being assaulted by an angry public on all sides and their only defensive strategy is to huddle together and wait for the storm to blow over. They allowed Collins and Murkowski to have their little rebellion, because they knew they could absorb it. But the next defector would have mattered greatly. And they kept their gang in line.
This was a crucial test because if one more Republican had acknowledged the absolute absurdity of the DeVos nomination, then the illusion of business as usual – a Republican majority in the Senate supporting a Republican President – would have been shattered, and other Republican Senators, already under unprecedented public pressure, would have lost any rationale for supporting an obviously unqualified candidate. Once the nomination became doomed, more defectors would have popped up to follow Collins and Murkowski. The wall of support would have crumbled.
No Republican could risk being that one defector. Not even a Ben Sasse or Jeff Flake. Or a John McCain. In the Republican reality-denial bubble, there is no benefit to speaking the truth that outweighs the cost of bursting of the bubble. So everyone went along, denying the reality of a shamefully unfit nominee whose only expressed goal was to wreak pain and havoc on our already-struggling educational system, replacing it where she can with an anti-education system of Christian indoctrination and private-industry profiteering.
As with all things Trump, the DeVos nomination forces Republicans in the starkest terms to reveal who they are and what motivates them. The DeVos vote is a perfect vehicle for exposing the fact that Republicans have no values other than electoral self-preservation. They are like a virus that continually mutates to resist each defense the immune system mounts against them, continuing in their ultimately self-defeating purpose, to weaken and kill the host that carries them.
Republicans have today announced to the nation that they are willing to sacrifice our children to their cause of self-preservation. They have proven time and again their willingness to sacrifice our veterans, our elderly, our financial stability, our middle class, our public safety, and our environment, in their quest for self-preservation. Even their obsequious pandering to the wealthy donor class is merely a means to that end.
The Republicans have only one lodestar, and it is not doing what’s best for the country. It is relying on the public’s weak memory and short attention span to ensure their continued survival. Republicans are betting that two years from now, in the Congressional elections of 2018, public outrage will have dissipated as it always has before, and they will maintain their majorities in the House and Senate. In pursuit of that goal, they will sacrifice their Constitutional duty to offset the madness of Donald Trump, and will ignore or capitulate in every outrage and abomination he throws in their faces. Like Betsy DeVos. That’s the plan.
I believe Republicans underestimate two things from inside their reality-distortion bubble. One is the extent to which large swathes of the public are repulsed and disgusted by the Trump Presidency. The other is the absolute unfitness and ongoing buffoonery, arrogance, and ignorance of Donald Trump, who refreshes our memories everyday with his pathetic displays of self-promotion, abject stupidity, and total disregard for the wants and needs of the American people. It is these two realities that I fervently hope will finally result in the expulsion of the Republican virus from the American body politic, starting in 2018.