Lee Drutman wrote about political cascades and why Republicans won't speak out against Trump on the Vox's Polyarchy blog.
To bring the metaphor back to current politics, one way to understand congressional Republicans’ dilemma is that they are trapped at the world’s worst dinner party where almost everybody is still too scared to leave and/or they’re still waiting around for some of that amazing dessert.
Privately, almost all congressional Republicans dislike Trump, and would rather have him gone and Mike Pence as president.
But publicly, they fear the consequences of speaking out too much against Trump. Nobody wants to risk being the first to stick their neck out. Consequences could include Trump’s aggressive ire and potential ridicule by Trump-aligned media, which could then possibly bring on a primary challenge (look what happened to Paul Ryan’s popularity when he spoke out against Trump in 2016). Republican voters, after all, still express considerable support for Trump.
If you’re the only one turning against Trump, you’re an easy target. But if you’re one of 20 elected officials turning on Trump, there’s now safety in numbers. Moreover, it sends a clear signal that could shift public opinion.
For a while, the Trump administration dinner party looked like it might be a decent get-together. Maybe there’d be an Obamacare repeal. Maybe there’d be tax reform. Maybe Trump would learn on the job.
But now the party is getting more uncomfortable.