The health care repeal blowback at Rep. Tom MacArthur's town hall was widely noticed, but there was another moment that deserves attention. A constituent's comments about Donald Trump's esteem for Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke volumes. And MacArthur's non-answer fell far short.
New Jersey Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur might have anticipated he would take some heat at a recent town hall for his amendment that helped pass the GOP’s health care repeal plan in the House. And he may have expected that his constituents would express anger about Donald Trump.
But he was also vehemently confronted about his party’s role in aiding the ascendance of authoritarianism in the United States:
"I'm concerned that I have a president that praises Vladimir Putin."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 11, 2017
I am concerned that I have a president that praises Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump is not a Republican, Congressman. Donald Trump is an AUTHORITARIAN. How long are you and your fellow Republicans going to defend this American nightmare?
MacArthur’s answer — or, rather, his non-answer? “I am not here to defend the president.”
He might not have wanted to defend Trump that day, when confronted by rightfully furious constituents. Nonetheless, MacArthur and every Republican in Congress are going to be answering to their voters in 2018 for standing by Trump and his autocratic behaviors and extremist agenda.
Because of Trump, the term “authoritarian” is now necessarily part of popular political dialogue in the U.S. But the hopeful news is that the resistance is alive and well, and very angry. People see through Trump’s facade and recognize the threat his constant violation of ethics, laws, and political and social norms represents.
If American voters turn out in force in 2018, Trump’s low approval ratings put Democrats in a possible position to win back the House of Representatives. With a majority in the House, the Democrats will have the power, if they choose, to begin impeachment hearings without GOP cooperation.