1. Opinion

Column: Standing up to Trump

Published Feb. 28, 2017

In the Trump era, standing up to the president comes at a high cost. If you're a department store, it could mean a Twitter shaming and boycotts. If you're a federal judge, it could mean being publicly scorned alongside the entire judicial branch and system of checks and balances. If you're a reporter, it could mean being labeled an enemy of the American people.

But with Republicans now in control of the presidency, Senate and House of Representatives, millions of Americans who voted for someone other than Donald Trump — the 54 percent of us — are waiting for someone to stand up to the president and his reckless impulses.

In my bid for U.S. Senate last year against Marco Rubio, deference to Trump was a topic that came up often. It dominated our first debate. Rubio told an audience in Orlando that night — and voters across Florida — that "the job of the U.S. Senate is not to blindly trust the president because they happen to be from your own party. … Of the two of us on this stage tonight, there is only one person who, if I go to the Senate, will stand up to the next president of the United States."

Yet despite a month of scandal, controversy and record-low approval ratings, Trump has been supported virtually unanimously by Republicans in Congress.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who misled a Senate panel about lobbying against Russia sanctions? Confirmed with every Republican vote. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who said we needed guns in schools to protect our kids from grizzly bears? Confirmed. Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry, who didn't even know what his department did when he accepted the job? He'll probably be confirmed shortly without a break in the ranks.

Republicans howled when President Barack Obama began thawing relations with Cuba, but turned a blind eye to Trump's potential violation of the embargo. Trump wanted to "lock Hillary up" for using an insecure email server, but now he discusses classified material over open-air dinners at Mar-a-Lago. The party behind free trade deals like NAFTA shuns them. GOP leaders had to be publicly shamed into holding hearings on Trump's ties to Russia after wasting millions investigating faked Planned Parenthood videos. The fiscal hawks who ran Congress during my two terms are now happy to bust the budget with an unnecessary $20 billion border wall.

If there was ever a time to put country before party, it is now.

Obama was routinely criticized by his political opponents throughout his two terms for partisanship and overreach. A rightfully concerned America asks, when does the standing up to Trump begin?

Patrick Murphy is a former two-term Democratic member of Congress from Palm Beach County. He ran for the U.S. Senate last November and lost to Sen. Marco Rubio.