Molly Ball reports on the low morale among Congressional Republicans, and she concludes with this:
Washington’s turbulence has yet to redound to the benefit of Democrats, and the Montana victory soothed some Republican nerves. But one GOP lobbyist wondered to me whether longtime members of Congress might soon take the opportunity to retire if the situation doesn’t improve. “You finally have united Republican government, and this is as good as it gets? Why bother?” he said. “A malaise is setting in.”
There isn’t much value in having united government under one party when that party is fractured and at odds with itself. If there had been a broad and deep consensus in the GOP about what needed to be done and why, millions of Republican voters wouldn’t have rebelled against party leadership and wouldn’t have supported Trump, but there wasn’t and they did. Because Trump didn’t care about policy, he handed his agenda and much of his administration over to many of the same kind of people that had led the GOP so poorly for years, and between the ineptitude of the administration and poor Congressional leadership they have had no success in promoting what also happens to be a largely unpopular agenda. Trump’s election allowed the party to avoid doing the hard work of rethinking their assumptions and reforming their policies. Now the sheer incompetence of this administration is giving them another excuse to continue avoiding that work, since they can pretend that the failure is Trump’s alone and not the entire party’s.
Then again, the last time the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House the results were also quite poor. Insofar as the Bush administration succeeded in pushing its agenda through, it did so mostly by making a mockery of the things conservatives were supposed to believe in. Bush presided over the expansion of the welfare state, a huge increase of the federal debt, and the creation of an even more intrusive national security state. Lockstep support in Congress for Bush’s disastrous, costly foreign policy managed to rack up trillions in debt, bog the U.S. down in open-ended, unnecessary wars that cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of lives overall. The last time Republicans controlled all the levers of power in Washington, the results were massive debt, administrative incompetence, failed wars, and a major financial crisis, so in that sense we should probably be glad that the new chapter of Republican rule is so ineffectual.