mitch mcconnell
Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Having already plunged the Middle East into an escalating catastrophic crisis, Donald Trump is doubling down on his initial threat of war crimes against Iran and its people. He is also threatening to “charge” Iraq with “sanctions like they’ve never seen before” in response to expelling American forces–because apparently not only does Trump not understand basic diplomacy or consequences, he apparently believes that countries pay sanctions like he believes they pay tariffs. Without hyperbole, the president is a reckless, dangerous imbecile who should not be managing a local fast food franchise, much less the United States of America.

But the president’s behavior should not shock us. We all know who and what he is. We all know the character of his shrinking number of rallygoers and core supporters, the ones who would cheer on acts of genocide to bring about Biblical Armaggeddon while aggressively waving the stars and stripes and branding objectors as soy-addled snowflakes. They are who they are.

But the most accountable people in America now are the craven Republican elected officials who have the power to stop this, yet refuse to. The President of the United States will soon stand trial in the Senate for bribing and extorting a vulnerable foreign power in order to manufacture dirt on a political opponent. The President’s threatened and real war crimes against Iran will serve as context and backdrop for that vote.

All it would take is 20 Republican Senators to say no. To say that enough is enough. To put the interests of the United States ahead of their temporary partisan interests. It would only take well under half of the GOP Senate caucus to do the right thing.

It wouldn’t even cost them that much as a party. Democrats are extremely unlikely to lose the House in 2020–hence the large number of Republican retirements. The Senate is likely to be deadlocked. Getting rid of Trump would still leave Mike Pence in the White House with the ability to nominate extremist Federalist Society judges.

Sure, they would face some primary challenges. But most would survive them. Those who didn’t would still get to retire and make millions as lobbyists with a cleaner conscience than they would otherwise.

Twenty is all it would take to end this nightmare. The power is literally in their hands. There’s nothing the rest of us can do until November 2020 to oust the destructive madman in the White House, but there is something they can do.

If they don’t, the result damage is their fault more than Trump’s. He just is what he is. If they knowingly allow him to continue, everything he does is directly their fault. And they should be held accountable accordingly.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.