The Bulletin

Prior cowardice doesn’t mean courageousness now  

By: - November 15, 2022 12:01 am

Former President Donald J. Trump disembarks Marine One at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, and boards Air Force One en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Several Republican officials around the country, including at least two in Virginia, are now saying publicly the party should cut ties with or disavow Donald Trump, the former president and de facto boss of the GOP. 

Hooray for this “come to Jesus” moment. Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Del. Tim Anderson of Virginia Beach assailed Trump’s influence after their party’s lackluster performance in last week’s midterm congressional elections. (Earle-Sears and Anderson won their current seats last year.) 

Just don’t kid yourselves about why some GOP leaders – finally – want a divorce from Trump. It’s not because of some newly found valor. 

Au contraire.  

Rather, they fear Trump will drag the party down further as he continues to influence the entire electorate – not just his sycophants. He already was an albatross for Republican candidates in the 2017 and 2019 General Assembly elections here in Virginia.  

Despite midterm results that historically favor the party not in the White House, the U.S. Senate will remain in Democratic Party control. The House of Representatives won’t have a huge Republican majority, if at all.

Other Republicans who recently criticized Trump – or urged him to delay announcing a 2024 White House bid until after the Senate runoff in Georgia – include New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Mike Lawler, who won a U.S. House seat in New York state. 

Plenty of opportunities to repudiate Trump for his unhinged, racist and anti-democratic comments arose before. GOP elected officials usually remained silent, either because they didn’t want to risk alienating the base, or wholeheartedly supported the former president.  

Here’s a refresher: “Shithole countries.” Hyperbole and mischaracterization about his record involving Black Americans. Withholding aid and support to Ukraine unless it agreed to investigate developments that could damage Joe Biden – leading to Trump’s first impeachment.  

Then there’s his botched handling of the pandemic, including mocking the wearing of masks. Disparaging U.S. service members killed in combat, though he avoided serving in Vietnam at all costs. Inciting the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol following his repeated lies about the 2020 election being stolen. 

Republicans repeatedly gave Trump a pass, one that went beyond the usual partisan politics. That stance has been an affront to democracy and common decency. Many Republicans continue to be his apologists.

Trump deserves the intraparty criticism, but it should’ve happened years ago. There’s nothing courageous about it now. 


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Roger Chesley
Roger Chesley

Longtime columnist and editorial writer Roger Chesley worked at the (Newport News) Daily Press and The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot from 1997 through 2018. He previously worked at newspapers in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Detroit. Reach him at [email protected]