Or ponder Trump’s firings of a string of executive branch inspectors general in the months since his impeachment acquittal. This is the president all but declaring that he will no longer permit legal oversight of himself or members of his Cabinet by independent investigators. From now on, he and his administration will simply do whatever they want. How has his party responded? Aside from some modest grumbling from Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Republicans have said little about these actions. The chance that they would react with the same wan unconcern to such an egregious flouting of independent oversight by a Democratic president is patently ludicrous.
Call it situational authoritarianism — or the substitution of tribalistic partisanship for constitutionalism. Either way, it’s an illustration of the Republican Party’s evolution away from the fundamental liberal presumption that both parties in our politics need to accept democratic accountability — and toward a system in which Republicans get to enjoy power and legitimacy they have no intention of extending to their political opponents.