Sunday, July 29, 2018

Where Have All the Republicans Gone?

For a few decades, I have assisted tens of thousands of patients in making medical decisions.  While the stakes may be higher in making a medical decision, the process is the same as would be used in making any decision.   Gather the facts.  Weigh the options.  Consider the respective risks and benefits.  If applicable, consider additional issues that may tilt the decision, such as cost, family or professional impact, personal priorities or cultural norms. 

Obviously, two individuals may share identical medical facts but decide differently – and both decisions may be sound and correct.

Our politicians and government officials should use the same process when faced with a political decision or a vote.  But, they don’t.   Sure, they engage in a risk-benefit analysis, but in a rather twisted manner.

Politician contemplating a vote:  “What is the risk to me if I vote for or against?”
Same politician contemplating a vote:  “What is the benefit to me if I vote for or against?”

In other words, our politicians focus much more on their interest than on ours.  Perhaps, that’s why their approval ratings are underwater.

Consider how the establishment GOP have been responding to the president’s steady stream of rhetorical and behavioral malfeasance.  In general, the responses have included silence, acquiescence, tolerance, deflection and even outright defense.  Yes, there are occasional murmurs of discontent, but these seem more aberrational than a coherent broadside.

'Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.'

Interestingly, the GOP individuals who have been consistent critics of the president are from those who are not running for reelection.  Thus, it may be that these folks discovered their principles only when they became unshackled from a future campaign and election - not exactly a profile in courage.

Even some senate Democrats who are up for reelection in 2018 have been very reluctant to criticize the president as they are from red states who support Trump.  

Here’s a different way to approach the risk-benefit equation for politicians who won’t express their outrage.   What do they risk by speaking their mind?   They would not be risking their health or their freedom.  They would not be risking a financial catastrophe.   They would not be risking the respect of their colleagues or their own self-respect.   Yes, they might be risking their job.  The worst outcome of calling out a demagogue is that the voters would toss them out.  Is that such a cataclysmic event that is worth one's personal integrity?   And all of them are so readily employable, although the prospect of leaving the public trough seems downright unbearable to them.

Consider the benefits of speaking true.   I won’t insult my readers my listing them, as they are self-evident.

If you suspect that I didn’t vote for Trump, then you are correct.  And, if you suspect that I voted for Clinton, then you are wrong.

There are circumstances when it is sensible to keep one’s thoughts to himself.   Maybe the issue is not that important or the stakes of speaking out are disproportionately high.   This is not the case for current legislators who look away.  The stakes to the nation and to themselves do not justify their silence.

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