Trial by Trump: Testing Times for the Republican Party

Wouldn’t you know it, Donald Trump has finally done said
something that everyone
except
his few million supporters
– finds morally
reprehensible
, unhinged, un-American,
deeply
bigoted
, fascistic,
contrary
to our values
, against
everything we stand for
, &c, as well as disqualifying,
racist
and unconstitutional.
His dramatic
call to keep Muslims from entering the United States
undermines national
security
, puts
our soldiers and diplomats in danger
, alienates
the Muslim communities we need to work with to defeat terrorists
, and plays
into the hands of ISIS
. All this is apt and accurate as far as it goes, and
it is good to see quite a bit of it coming from Republicans who have been complicit
in enabling their party’s slide past the rightmost fringe of reality. However,
this is a moment far more profound than a few tweets or statements can address.
For the Republican Party, it is a test of character. Is the party of Lincoln still
willing to accept Donald Trump as its Presidential nominee if he prevails
through the primary process? Republican leaders and Presidential candidates have
repeatedly been asked the question, and have either answered in the affirmative
(Ryan
and McConnell
) or simply scurried away (e.g., Priebus
and Cruz).
But the question will not go away. If Trump is indeed a fascist, as the quickly
developing consensus from Stephanopoulos
to Krauthammer
seems to indicate, is the Republican Party willing to own him, and therefore
become the first major fascist party in American history? It is an issue of
character over politics. The Party has only two choices at this point: Either disown
Trump based on his views now and save the Party, or let him go on and risk the
f-label. The “strategy” seems to be to let him go on for now and hope that he
will disappear of his own accord. That is probably a vain hope, and the
consequence of this denial may well be an infinitely worse situation in a
few months, with brickbats flying at the Republican convention in Cleveland,
plus incalculable damage to the Party’s image. However, disowning Trump now
will almost certainly result in the Republicans losing the 2016 Presidential
election. Most likely, a jilted Trump will run as an independent and siphon
away the most energized part of the Republican voter base. Or he may sulk off
in a huff, leaving behind millions of furious supporters who will not vote in
2016 out of anger. Both scenarios spell disaster for the Republicans, but which
path will they take?
In spite of my utter lack of faith in the character of the
modern Republican Party, I believe they that will eventually cut Trump off – perhaps
sooner rather than later. If it isn’t his latest remark about excluding
Muslims, it will be his next remark that will be even more outrageous. And if
anyone thinks that Trump has reached the limit of his outrageousness now, I
have a
tall tower at 725 5th Ave, New York, NY
to sell you! The pressure on Reince
Priebus and co. from the media and other Republicans running in 2016 will grow
so much that they will be forced to dissociate the Party from Trump – with the
aforementioned consequences. If Trump does run an independent campaign, he will
lose, as will the Republican nominee, and Hillary Rodham Clinton will return in
triumph to the White House. The only scenario in which Trump could actually win
is if other Farooks and Tashfeens decide to perpetrate fresh horrors against
innocent people. Then all bets are off. Perhaps that’s what Trump is counting
on.
It is good to remember that the Democratic Party too faced a
similar moment once on an even more important issue – equal rights for
African-Americans. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act
of 1964
ending Jim Crow laws in the South, he famously – though perhaps apocryphally
– said that this would cause the Democratic Party to lose the South for a
generation. But Johnson did not let this political calculation keep him from
doing what was right. In 2015, as Democrats still remain locked out of
political power in the South because of that fateful choice in 1964, one may
ask if it was the right one. All decent people – and history – would answer
with a famous quote from another recent Republican icon, “Ya betcha!”
Let’s see if the Republican Party meets its test of
character.
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