I wrote before how some Republicans are now starting to distance themselves from Donald Trump following his disgraceful response to the protests and demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd. I said that while we should welcome their defections, we should never let them forget their complicity in creating the kind of Republican party that enabled Trump to win the presidency, and have continued to support him on his rampage against basic norms and decency.
So why are some now gingerly edging away from Trump? We have to remember that this is an election year and many Republicans must be getting nervous since Trump’s poll numbers are not good. On the one hand, to distance themselves too much from Trump is to incur his wrath and those of his devotees. This is particularly fraught for them in primary elections where only registered Republicans vote. Once they win their primaries, they have a little more leeway to try and pretend they are independent because Republican voters have nowhere else to go. But they can stray too far since angry Trumpers may stay home and they cannot afford that.
Right now, Trump’s support is slipping. As November approaches and if his support does not rise again or sinks even lower, they will be faced with the decision of whether to continue to grovel before him or pretend that they have some principles. That is going to be interesting to watch.
One of the few Republicans who can plausibly lay some claim to being genuine about his indignation over the death of George Floyd is senator Mitt Romney. He has gone further than most, taking part in marches protesting police brutality and even saying that Black Lives Matter, something that no other elected Republican member of congress has done as far as I am aware.
.@MittRomney is marching with a group of nearly 1,000 Christians to the White House. Here he is on video saying why he’s walking: “… to make sure that people understand that Black Lives Matter” https://t.co/KCxJNchCMs pic.twitter.com/Za0Am2WL8g
— Hannah Natanson (@hannah_natanson) June 7, 2020
Margaret Carlson suggests that this may be because Romney’s father George Romney, who was governor of Michigan and ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968, had progressive views on race and championed civil rights, expanded state social programs, including for programs for the poor and unemployed, created an income tax levy, and while governor said that “Michigan’s most urgent human rights problem is racial discrimination–in housing, public accommodations, education, administration of justice, and employment.” Because Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, George Romney refused to support him for the presidency that year.
During his term as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during Richard Nixon’s first term from 1969 to 1972, Romney pursued policies of affordable housing and suburban desegregation with zeal, to the point of angering some white residents of Michigan who opposed his policies of encouraging the integration of lily-white suburbs.
Compare that with Donald Trump’s real estate developer father, a racist like his son, who discriminated against black people in the housing units he built. Trump’s father bequeathed to his son both money and his racist attitudes.
It would not be surprising if the different parental influences had some effect on the thinking of their two children.