When Republican senators, some of whom are not RINOs and/or have to walk a fine political line in purple states, vote against the president many do so out of genuine principle. Sometimes they do so out of misplaced ideology. However, more than those factors, they do so to save their political skins.
The Democrats, being of a lockstep and goose-marching crowd, have no problem with party cohesion. They don’t think for themselves and thus prefer to take orders from above rather than to engage their own minds and principles, the repulsive few they have, in an analysis of the pros and cons of particular legislation.
A Republican case in point was the recent vote on the War Powers Act. Among the seven Republicans who voted against the bill were Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Let’s examine them and see why they voted against the president.
Alexander: He’s in his last term in office, he’ll leave in January, and so is now free to let his true colors fly without having to explain himself to voters. Failed president contender Alexander, whose tag was “Lamar!” (Why do all the one-word name slogans like “Lamar!” and “Jeb!” fail miserably at the presidential ballot box?), is more of a Bush Republican than anything else. He votes with the party most of the time but has his little rebellions like a hankering for federal control of education and (pace this) hamstringing a president per the role of commander-in-chief. Alexander is a remnant of another era, before Trump brought populist victory to the GOP and America.
Murkowski: The latest female member of an Alaskan political family, Murkowski makes a fetish of her sometimes liberalism couched in libertarian rhetoric. Alaskans have a contrary political nature, most times in a good way, when it comes to comparisons with the lower 48 states. Though Murkowski, like “Lamar!,” generally votes GOP, she likes to remind her ornery constituents she is no party robot. When she can do it like this in a vote she knows is going to fail, she plays a smart double game.
Collins: When the chips are down Collins comes through, at times while under tremendous pressure. She had the book thrown at her by radical feminists and Maine malcontents during the Kavanaugh hearings. She held firm and voted to confirm. Maine is a purple state and an occasional vote against her own party, while frustrating to others, lets her keep the seat red.
Lee and Paul: The libertarian twins, these guys are loyal Republicans. But both have a wild streak when it comes to the Constitution. Now this is usually a good thing. Though they sometimes get so deep in the libertarian minutiae of a question they miss the forest for the trees. Lee comes to it by genuine principle and character.
So does Paul, though he also had it handed down in his blood, as his dad, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, was the GOP libertarian par excellence. As with Collins, they knew the vote was going to fail so they indulged themselves. No great harm here. Hopefully they will continue, like all the Republican senators mentioned above, to know the difference between a throw-away vote like this one and one that really matters.