It must be tough being Republican these days, having to twist oneself into an ideological pretzel to reconcile our president’s actions with traditional conservative orthodoxy.

For instance, the GOP used to be known as the party of fiscal restraint. Deficit spending was a no-no, and nothing got approved until the revenue stream was nice and sparkling clear.

So it must be disheartening for budget hawks to watch what passes for Republican leadership in Washington these days. The Congressional Budget Office is watching, and last week it estimated the federal deficit at $984 billion.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the federal budget deficit has risen 48 percent since fiscal 2017. During that time, Donald Trump has been president nearly 33 months, while Barack Obama was president less than four months.

This titanic increase in America’s national debt might be excusable during a depression, when people are out of work and the economy is sluggish. But our unemployment rate has never been lower and the stock market, even adjusted for inflation, has never been higher.

In fact, the U.S. economy is roaring right now. Under ordinary circumstances, this would be a great time to pay down our debt and put some hay in the barn. Instead, GOP leaders in Washington have squandered our prosperity by giving unwarranted tax cuts to the corporate class.

With Republicans in control of the Senate and the White House, how can both of the following be true? 1) — one of the world’s largest and most-lucrative corporations — pays zero taxes to the United States Treasury; and 2) The federal deficit is about to reach $1 trillion. Yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t.”

For this we elect Republicans? A hot tub full of drunken fraternity brothers could do a better job.

If America’s financial health doesn’t interest Republican voters, maybe defense issues will.

Military hawks are in a tailspin as our president tosses loyal allies aside like used Kleenex. Now that we’ve abandoned the Kurds in Syria, who in their right mind would partner with the United States on any joint military endeavor?

At the same time, our Republican president has emboldened America’s enemies by pulling out of arms control treaties such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia – which was in effect since the Cold War.

Shafting our allies and swooning over adversaries has, quite predictably, shunted America to the sidelines of international diplomacy. The void left by Uncle Sam is being filled by China and Russia; it will take years for America to rehabilitate its new reputation as a shifty, untrustworthy nation.

How d’ya like them apples, Mr. and Mrs. Republican?

Free trade, you ask? Under GOP leadership, the United States capriciously pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — leaving 11 other nations to carry the fight against China’s growing economic aggression. Also, the North American Free Trade Agreement was spontaneously renegotiated to satisfy a presidential whim.

And don’t forget those new tariffs on Chinese goods. From one day to the next, it’s hard to decipher America’s position on international trade.

OK you social conservatives, now it’s your turn. Are you willing to disable your own moral compass to align with Donald Trump’s north star?

Character counts, eh? What man of character gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to porno ladies and Playboy bunnies while faithfully married to his third wife?

And what man of character flips from being a pro-choice Democrat to a pro-life Republican? That sort of flexibility only belongs to those without core beliefs.

Finally, how can any strict constructionist Republican support a president who wipes his backside with the Constitution? Checks and balances be damned, the American presidency is teetering towards an autocracy.

So good luck, ye faithful Republicans, because your party has been highjacked and you’re adrift on a sea of hypocrisy.

You’ve been fooled once. Don’t get fooled again.

William Brock lives in Pullman.

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