Krugman has a good column on the theme Paul addressed earlier today — the complete immersion of the Republican Party in Trump’s corruption, based in large measure because they simply do not recognize opposition as legitimate:
The usual explanation you hear for G.O.P. acquiescence in Trumpian malfeasance is that elected Republicans fear being defeated in a primary if they show any hint of wavering. And that’s certainly an important part of the story.
Republicans haven’t forgotten what happened in 2014, when David Brat, a Tea Party insurgent, ousted Eric Cantor, at the time the House majority leader. Cantor was a hard-line conservative, but mild-mannered in affect, and perceived as soft on immigration. The lesson was that the G.O.P. base demands red meat, and these days that means supporting Trump no matter what.
But electoral fears aren’t the only thing keeping Republicans in line.
On one side, I don’t think most observers realize, even now, the extent to which many Republicans view their domestic opponents not as fellow citizens but as enemies with no legitimate right to govern.
William Barr, the attorney general, says that progressives are “militant secularists” out to “destroy the traditional moral order.” If that’s how you see the world, you’ll support anything — up to and including soliciting and/or extorting intervention by foreign powers in U.S. elections — that helps defeat those progressives.
On the other side, it’s notable that with few exceptions even Republicans who are leaving or have left office still refuse to criticize Trump. There has been a wave of Republicans announcing retirements from the House, and there’s little question that some of these politicians are leaving because they’re disgusted with serving this administration. Yet almost none have said so explicitly, even though they won’t be facing any more primaries. What keeps them in line?
That last point is critical. “Moderate” Will Hurd isn’t running in 2020 and yet in his quiet, superficially more critical way is just as in the tank as Nunes and Jordan. Trump is the effect as much or more than the cause.