Republicans are terrified of having to think for themselves once Trump is gone: S.E. Cupp
Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans (screengrab)

On CNN Monday, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp argued that GOP lawmakers are not just scared of retribution for not standing with outgoing President Donald Trump; they are also scared of having to define what they stand for as a party without him telling them what to believe.

"For the past four years, we, especially in the media, have heard Republicans in private are XYZ — disgusted, disturbed, troubled — but publicly, very silent, except in these moments where it really doesn't count, where everyone is doing it," said Cupp. "I think, in fact, if I write another book, I will call it 'In private: the great cowardice of Trump's GOP.'"

"But I think the calculus has been twofold," she continued. "One, I think Republicans have been scared that Trump is going to run a bunch of 'scam PACs' to try and primary Republicans who weren't officially Trumpy to line his own pockets and soothe his own ego, but still with a base behind him and some influence. And secondly, I just think republicans have been so emasculated by this president that they lost their identity. They're like teenagers about to go off to college. For 18 years their parents told them what to say and think, and all of a sudden they have to make their own decisions. Republicans are waking up to that reality. Well, Trump is going to be gone and they'll have to rediscover who they are and what they think and believe in again, without someone like Trump telling them who they are and where to go."

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