President-elect Donald Trump has been enjoying a rare treat in the past few days: he's been getting a whole lot of kudos from a lot of his supporters and right-wing mainstream media. And, just in case any of you have forgotten, Trump and the media have not exactly been on the friendliest terms. Still, when Trump tweeted his mild irritation over a secretive vote to stymie the ethics office by House Republicans on Monday, he was credited with ending the vote. Congratulations to him, I guess; except no. Sure, Trump might have taken 10 seconds out of his day to send a tweet, but public protest stopped the ethics office vote at the end of the day.
House Republicans managed to get themselves into some pretty hot water even before the 115th Congress started its first session on Tuesday. A group led by Virginia Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte voted in a secret session on Monday to curb the power of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics; it seems the lawmakers were hoping to limit the power the ethics office, which was created in 2008 to hold members of Congress accountable for acts of impropriety and to investigate them or any other members, according to the Associated Press. The House Republicans also looked towards dismantling the Office of Congressional Ethics to bring the staff under the greater power of the House Ethics Committee. Meaning, the House wanted to oversee the office that was supposed to investigate its own alleged ethics violations. When President-elect Trump got word of the secret vote, he did what he does best; tweeted from his (gold) Ivory (Trump) Tower.
The lawmakers did a pretty quick about-face on Tuesday, reversing their decision and removing the language that would have meant the end of the independent ethics board. All because of a single tweet by a soon-to-be-president, according to some media reports. But is that what really happened here? Was one man really that powerful? Or could it be the massive public outcry that reversed the decision?
Thousands of Americans took to social media to encourage others to contact their member of Congress. The phone lines were flooded with protests, Republican North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones told The Washington Post:
We have got just a tremendous number of calls to our office here and district offices concerned about this.
All of these calls began well before President-elect Trump tweeted his disapproval, and yet he has somehow been anointed the hero of the piece, the savior of the ethics committee. Which is not only absurd, but dangerous.
The American people need to know that they, as a collective, continue to hold more power than their president. They need to know that protests count — that their voices are being heard (especially when those voices number in the thousands). To disregard those voices and to intimate that the future president has more power to make change with a single, halfhearted tweet than thousands of protesters — what does that say for the future of the country?
And perhaps most importantly; what does it tell a figure like Trump, who already takes to Twitter to attack people who question him? (Trump's team has not responded to Romper's request for comment regarding his alleged attacks on the 18-year-old girl who asked him a question.)
He did not stop the ethics office vote. The people did.