Throughout the last four years, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has gone further than most in displays of sycophantic loyalty toward Donald Trump, probably in the hopes that he'd be rewarded for his servility. But about a year ago, the Republican senator expressed disagreement with the president about U.S. policy in Syria -- at which point Graham learned a lesson about the limits of Trump's loyalty.
"I am the boss," Trump reminded Graham.
It was a reminder to Republicans everywhere that the incumbent president effectively sees them as employees, who are expected to follow their boss' lead. As we've discussed, Trump sees loyalty as a one-way street: it's something he expects to receive, not bestow.
All of this came to mind this morning reading a USA Today op-ed from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who's proud of the work he's done administering his state's elections, but who suddenly finds himself persona non grata in his party, thanks to the president who's turned on him.
By all accounts, Georgia had a wildly successful and smooth election. We finally defeated voting lines and put behind us Fulton County's now notorious reputation for disastrous elections. This should be something for Georgians to celebrate, whether their favored presidential candidate won or lost. For those wondering, mine lost — my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him.
Raffensperger was a conservative Republican in good standing up until a few weeks ago. But the Georgian played by the rules, followed the law, and failed to satisfy a White House that hoped to see him help tip the scales in a state where the GOP ticket fell short.
Raffensperger, in other words, wasn't enough of a team player for Trump and his allies, which in turn made him a villain. He failed to remember that the head of his party considers himself "the boss."
It started two weeks ago when the president reportedly directed Republican Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler to call for Raffensperger's resignation for reasons they struggled to articulate. The offensive intensified soon after, to the point that Raffensperger's career in politics may very well be finished -- not because he did anything wrong, but because he failed to make Donald Trump happy.
Georgia's secretary of state and his family supported the outgoing president, both financially and at the ballot box, but Raffensperger is nevertheless joining the long list of people who've learned a lesson about Trump's limited capacity for fidelity.