Trump needed Republican leaders and aides who looked the other way, who employed blinding double standards, who trashed Trump to journalists off the record but praised him on the record. He needed a vice president who extolled his “broad-shouldered leadership.” He needed people who’d convinced themselves that they would use him to serve their ends when in fact he used them to serve his ends. He needed people who said that those who spoke the truth about Trump were “haters” who suffered from “Trump derangement syndrome” and “obsessed” too much about him. Trump needed supporters who said his critics should focus not on him—he was, at worst, a “symptom” of the problem—but on the media, or the Democrats, or critical race theory, or someone else, or anything else.
Trump needed people around the nation to pretend that he was not who he so unmistakably was. He needed senators like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, John Kennedy, Lindsey Graham, and many of their colleagues; Republican representatives like Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, and scores more; and countless others who thought they could ride the back of the tiger but who have now ended up mauled.
Elected Republicans decided to make a deal with the devil. Part of the bargain—the part they liked—was access to power and influence, this tax cut and that appointment, their silent belief that Trump would further their career ambitions. But the other part of the bargain—the part they aren’t so eager to admit to now—is what we saw yesterday, as the Capitol was engulfed in mob violence. But this, or something like this, is where the Trump presidency was always going to end. Donald Trump promised as much. And worse may yet come. The president appears to be spiraling downward, psychologically and emotionally. This is a very dangerous time for America.