Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) talks with reporters on his way to the U.S. Capitol on the third day of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial on February 11, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Is There a Republican Alive Who Still Believes in Democracy?

Republicans should heed Churchill's warning about appeasing authoritarians: "Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, it will eat him last."

Jill Richardson

 by OtherWords

Investigative accounts of the Trump administration, like the recent Washington Post feature on the January 6 insurrection, routinely write about three kinds of conservatives.

First, there are the few who took a stand for democracy who have sacrificed their political careers, like Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Second, there are some who know Biden fairly won the 2020 election but placate conspiracy theorists to protect their political careers. Last, there are those who are true believers in Trump.

Republicans in the second group tell journalists, often anonymously, how they really feel about Trump and the 2020 election. Their base supports Trump, and their base believes Trump's lies that he won re-election. They go along with their base, convinced it won't hurt anything.

As Winston Churchill said about appeasing a power-hungry authoritarian ruler, "Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, it will eat him last."

Republicans who understand Trump is a threat to our democracy must organize together to protect their own party. It's not acceptable to go along with Trump because it is expedient for Republicans' political agenda.

Trump is such a wild card, he doesn't even reliably help Republicans' political agenda: Trump focused solely on his own loss in the 2020 election and failed to support the two Georgia Senate Republicans in their runoffs. The Senate now has a narrow Democratic majority.

Honest Republicans should coordinate a strategy to repudiate Trump's lies about the 2020 election and reclaim their party. Appeasement is not benign.

On January 6, our democracy survived in part because a few heroes in the Trump administration—including even Vice President Mike Pence, who didn't try to stop the election certification—prevented Trump from carrying out a coup. What if the coup is less inept next time? What if Trump loyalists supportive of a coup gain enough power to carry it out?

They're certainly trying.

Republican state governments are currently passing laws to restrict Democrats from voting in the future, while taking care not to suppress the Republican vote. The 2013 Supreme Court decision repealing part of the Voting Rights Act makes it easier for states to pass restrictive voting laws that disproportionately prevent marginalized groups from voting—which is increasingly Republicans' stated intent.

If Trump runs again in 2024, he could attempt to use loyalists in local and state governments to carry out a coup—not just by suppressing votes, but by actually overturning results.

Fortunately, preventing the coup presents no moral dilemmas, because it is consistent with following the Constitution and the ideals of democracy. If voting rights are protected and every American eligible to vote has the opportunity to do so and be counted, that should be good for all of us.

Congress has to protect voting rights to protect our democracy. We must protect our democracy by guaranteeing its most sacred rite: voting. We should do so legally, with elected representatives passing laws that allow as many eligible citizens to vote as possible. It is fitting to protect our democracy while upholding its ideals.

I also think it would help the nation if anyone involved in the January 6 insurrection and all of their supporters sit down and think about what they have done. I'm not naïve enough to expect it could happen, but it's nice to have dreams.

Trump and his supporters tried to carry out a coup. It was violent and people died. More people could have died. The next attempt may be more successful. We must take this threat seriously and take precautions now by protecting voting rights for all eligible citizens.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Jill Richardson

Jill Richardson

Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at UW-Madison, where she studies natural resources and the environment.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Hosts 'Saving American Democracy' Town Hall

"Republicans in state after state are working to make it harder and harder to vote. We can't let them succeed."

Common Dreams staff ·

As SCOTUS Considers 'Extinguishing' Right to Abortion, Calls Mount for Congress to 'Step Up'

"Despite the protections that the legal framework like Roe provides, it has never been enough," said one doctor. "We continue to work toward reproductive justice."

Jessica Corbett ·

US Must Tackle Marine Plastics Pollution 'From Source to Sea': Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that the U.S. is responsible for about a quarter of the plastics that enter the world's oceans each year.

Brett Wilkins ·

First US Omicron Case Confirmed as WHO Chief Decries Failure to Share Vaccines Globally

Factors including low vaccine coverage have created "a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants," the top health official said.

Andrea Germanos ·

Since Congress Lifted Crude Export Ban in 2015, US Has Dropped 'Climate Bomb' on World

Oil and gas exports from the Gulf Coast have surged by nearly 600%, and fossil fuel production in the Permian Basin has grown by 135%.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo