Last month, I told you that elements of the Republican establishment were frightened enough of Donald Trump that they were already making plans to put up a third-party challenger if he won the nomination. Well, what a difference a month makes. Now at least some prominent Republican figures are apparently willing to crawl into bed with the Donald.
On Monday’s edition of NPR’s Morning Edition, Cokie Roberts dropped a bombshell–a sizable number of Republican elected officials are willing to consider getting behind Trump’s bid to buy the presidency. Roberts told host Steve Inskeep that there’s “an interesting split” in the Republican establishment. It seems that most of the intraparty opposition to Trump comes from Republican opinion writers who think Trump is more of an “authoritarian populist” than a conservative.
However, Roberts said, a number of “pragmatists”–including many elected officials–aren’t too keen on the alternative of the moment, Ted Cruz. They not only don’t like how he’s burned numerous bridges in two-plus years in the Senate, but they think his archconservative profile is “so antithetical to what most voters like” that he could be a severe drag downballot. From what Roberts has heard, this wing of the establishment is starting to think that Trump is someone that “we can make a deal with.”
So let’s see if we’re hearing this right. These so-called pragmatists are actually willing to make a deal with a guy who has proven himself several times over to be morally unfit for office. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who finds it acceptable to plaster a private cell phone number on social media, condone thuggish behavior from his supporters, mocks people who are disabled, engages in blatant misogyny, and declared that he would turn away all Syrian refugees in flagrant violation of international law. By all rights, they should be demanding that Trump have the decency to get out of the race. And instead, they’re flocking to him?
Then again, it’s not all that surprising. Remember, in 2013, these so-called pragmatists allowed a gaggle of tea party activists and their congressional buddies to briefly shut down the government unless Obamacare was defunded. Incredibly, even though there was enough support in the House for a clean bill, John Boehner dragged his feet in allowing an up-or-down vote because these tea-swilling congressmen threatened to oust him as Speaker if he did so. All but two of them represented districts that are all but unwinnable for Democrats–meaning that Boehner effectively allowed a gang of wingnuts who never have to fear being held to account at the ballot box to hold this country hostage.
Considering the reaming that the GOP deservedly took for that shutdown, I thought the GOP establishment would have learned that the American people have no tolerance for leaders who aren’t actually willing to govern. Well, this apparent warming to Trump proves that I thought wrong. By even thinking about embracing Trump, it is effectively condoning a man who has, time and again, shown total disregard for every standard of decency and civility that is known. If the establishment is even thinking about doing some sort of deal with Trump, it will remove any doubt that the Republican Party has become a far-right party.
As tempting as it is to jump for joy at this prospect, I can’t. It’s not good for democracy in the long run to have a far-right party as a major party. Moreover, with Trump as the GOP standardbearer, it will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the nation to heal after the campaign. For the good of the country, the GOP needs to rethink this harebrained idea.