Finally some Republican members of Congress are starting to be honest and openly criticize President Trump for his aberrant behavior, misguided policies, and inflammatory tweets. This growing group is called “the GOP’s retirement caucus” and they have become some of the president’s harshest critics.
Congressional Republicans are retiring in record numbers, many because they believe Trump has created a toxic political environment that will result in massive losses in November that will give control of Congress back to the Democrats.
About two dozen House Republicans are retiring outright, while four GOP senators have decided to call it quits.
Rep. Ryan Costello (Pa.) is the newest Republican to announce he’s leaving Congress and he was forthright in saying that Trump helped drive him to make the decision to leave.
“I always thought I was freewheeling, but I think I’ve become a little bit more freewheeling,” Costello said about his attitude. “It’s a little bit less stressful.”
Many other Republicans on Capitol Hill have said that dealing with the current president has given them new headaches, which they don’t need because being in Congress is already very demanding.
“It’s exhausting,” centrist Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), said in announcing his retirement. “What we’ve gotten out of the administration is all this disruption, and it’s very destabilizing.”
Dent has been one of Trump’s biggest critics in Congress and is not afraid to voice his strong opinions. Last week Dent said that Trump’s “lack of impulse control” is a reason we should all be worried about what Trump will do next.
“The spontaneity and lack of impulse control are areas of concern for lots of members on both sides of the aisle,” Dent said. “Disorder, chaos, instability, uncertainty, intemperate statements are not conservative virtues in my opinion.”
Costello has also consistently shown a willingness to needle the president on certain issues. Since his retirement last week, Costello has unloaded on Trump and when asked if Stormy Daniels was telling the truth about her affair with Trump he simply said “I think she is.”
“Whether it’s [Trump’s alleged affair with] Stormy Daniels, or passing an omnibus spending bill that the president threatens to veto after promising to sign, it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today,” Costello said in an interview.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is also retiring, and she is one of three Republicans who said that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt should resign. She also said the administration should not add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The leader of the Benghazi witchhunt, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has surprised a lot of people with his harsh criticisms of Trump.
Gowdy recently tweaked Trump publicly over the federal investigation into his campaign, telling him, “When you are innocent, act like it.” He called Trump’s attacks on the Justice Department “not helpful.” Gowdy has also begun probing Pruitt’s $50-a-night housing arrangement on Capitol Hill, a GOP source told The Hill on Friday night.
In the upper chamber of Congress retiring senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have been huge thorns in Trump’s side. Even Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been honestly expressing his negative opinions about Trump, even though he’s not retiring.
When Flake announced his retirement he said: “Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.”
It’s great that these Republicans are finally criticizing the president, but we can’t help but wonder if it is too little too late. They appear to be like rats leaving a sinking ship while allowing the people left on board to drown. We can only hope that before our ship of state sinks the Democrats can take back control and avert a disaster for our nation.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.