Now Senator Tillis, will you finally, at long last, call out Donald Trump's treachery?

Published February 24, 2022

By Rob Schofield

It’s long been clear to all who have followed the career of North Carolina’s junior — and soon-to-be-senior — U.S. Senator, Thom Tillis, that he is not a truly loyal member of the Donald Trump cult. Unlike Madison Cawthorn, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, Dan Bishop and other devoted adherents to Trump’s poisonous and treasonous brand of Big Lie-based authoritarianism, Tillis has clearly toed the Trump line these last few years more out of a perception of political necessity, than genuine belief.

Oh sure, Tillis, is clearly a devoted right-winger; his stances on any number of issues are in the mainstream of the disturbing locale to which modern American conservatism has migrated in recent decades. That said, it’s also remained fairly clear that like, say, Richard Burr, George W. Bush (or even Dick Cheney for heaven’s sake), Tillis remains committed to basics of the American experiment and opposed to the deeply disturbing brand of neo-fascism and white nationalism embraced by Trump and so many of his faithful toadies.

It’s because of this reality — his position of growing seniority in the GOP and his obvious refusal to fully embrace Trumpism — that Tillis now stands in a somewhat unique and important position to stand up for the basics of American democracy in light of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

As multiple news outlets have reported, Donald Trump has been, in an act of great and previously inconceivable treachery, heaping praise on on his buddy Putin’s actions in recent days.

Meanwhile, to his credit, Tillis has forcefully rejected this point of view. In sharp contrast to Trump, Tillis decried the invasion as the act of “a corrupt and paranoid dictator who harbors grand ambitions of forming a new Soviet empire.”

The difference between these two positions is not one of mere tone or emphasis; it is and should be seen, tragically, as representative of a stark divide between two distinct branches of modern American conservatism.

On one side stands Trump and his cult — a leader and a group that sides with dark and corrupt forces of tyranny. On the other, stand those Republicans who remain committed to a world order based on democratic government and opposition to the Mafia-style kleptocracy practiced by Putin and embraced by Trump.

Today, as the world looks on in horror at Putin’s invasion and a growing and powerful bipartisan consensus emerges in our nation in opposition to it, it is the perfect time for Tillis to, at long last, formally break with Trump, condemn his cynical embrace of authoritarianism, and articulate a different vision for American conservatism.

Come on, Senator. Now could be your moment to make history. You can still fight tooth and nail for conservative positions on taxes and education and social issues. But just this once, do the right thing. Lead. Stand with President Biden and democracy. Forcefully and specifically disavow Trump’s treason and help turn our nation away from the darkness.