For the most part, Republicans have been far too willing to enable Trump’s personal corruption, his sellouts of the national interest for personal gain, and a broad array of impulsive and incoherent policies. But even Republicans have their limits.
The big red line is still firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It would provoke an open break. Even Trump, in his stupor of Fox News fawning and genuflecting aides, knows that.
Lately, there have been other encouraging signs. A bipartisan discharge petition forcing House floor action on DACA is very close to having sufficient signatures. Trump’s implacable opposition is actually increasing support.
On Trump’s sellout of national security policy to quarantine the Chinese telecom producer ZTE, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida led a bipartisan bloc of 27 senators to protest.
And Trump’s general incoherence on trade policy is producing unified big-business opposition. However much Republican legislators find it expedient to align with Trump, they will not abandon big business.
One other factor could turn Republican legislative distancing from Trump into a stampede—the scent of an election blowout in November. In hard-core Tea Party territory, Trump is still an asset. But in the dozens of suburban House swing districts held by Republicans, he is increasingly toxic. The more of a liability he seems, the more Republicans will feel free to attack him.
The year 2018 will be remembered as the moment when Americans lost their democracy, or took it back.