Guest Opinion: GOP deserves its time in the wilderness
Oh, this election. We’ll remember it as the one that turned brother against brother, mother against daughter, father against son, friend against friend. What a bitterly divided nation.
And that’s just the Republicans.
Even if you believe that Donald Trump stanched a gushing artery in the second debate, what of the constituency he has mostly dismissed? That would be the so-called establishment Republicans desperately trying to keep their presidential nominee from undermining their hopes of holding the Senate and House, if not their entire party.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a belated and reluctant Trump endorser, tried to split the difference Monday by telling his caucus that he would no longer defend nor campaign with Trump. But when pressed, he did not withdraw his endorsement.
Ryan’s longtime friend and Wisconsin ally, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, steered the other way. Hours after Ryan’s drama, Priebus told committee members that nothing had changed and the RNC was in full coordination with the Trump campaign, money included.
In two conference calls, two GOP leaders demonstrated how riven the party has become in the wake of Trump. Both recognize different realities, and only one can be right.
Priebus has offered his own occasional discomfort with the distasteful Trump campaign — including the vulgar, misogynistic “locker room” tape — but sought to reassure those Republicans standing with the nominee come what may. The only thing worse, they argue, would be a Hillary Clinton presidency. Any so-called Republicans unable to take on this fight are “cowards,” as California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher so gently put it.
This is a significant segment of today’s GOP. Trump won the nomination fair and square, with more than 13 million primary votes. He may be a walking gaffe machine incapable of going a week without talking his candidacy into the gutter, but he does have his fans.
Then there are those Republicans who put country ahead of party and refuse to back Trump. They are joined by later adopters who increasingly worry that his manifest ineptitude could sink the entire GOP ticket — or their own down-ballot race, in particular.
While he pulled up short, Ryan nevertheless reflects the dozens of Republican elected officials and other party stalwarts who say Trump is simply a bridge too far. A more courageous House speaker would have finished the thought. Perhaps he will at the next conflagration.
We have no interest in a Republican nominee for whom principle is negotiable nor in a party willing to trade principle in pursuit of electoral victory.
Clinton is the only serious candidate. Donald Trump is neither a conservative nor qualified to serve. Those who stand with him deserve his fate.
What Republicans do could determine the party’s course long after one miserable election. Its demise would deprive Americans of real and needed choice — but if the GOP can’t bring itself to cut ties with the most unqualified candidate in modern history, it deserves the wilderness, and for a very long time.