GOP Trump-Dumpers: Saints or Saboteurs?
There’s a common thread between the rejection of Brexit by some Brits and the rejection of Trump by some Republicans. Both reflect a sore loser mentality that unrealistically yearns to reset the political clock in such a way that the will of the majority is bent toward a different outcome.
It’s a tall order, based on the supposition that not only were a majority of voters dead wrong, but that, having acknowledged the errors of their ways, they are now filled with remorse. It ‘s the sort of nonsequitur I experienced recently when a liberal acquaintance incredulously asked me if I weren’t “sorry” now for having supported Sarah Palin back in 2008!
Republicans who hold The Donald in disdain rarely question why their own candidates lost the GOP primary. S.E. Cupp, an anti-Trump conservative speaking at the Politicon event last weekend, adamantly made it clear that, in time, she will “take back my party.” Has it not occurred to her that the party doesn’t “belong” to her any more than it does to other Republicans who went to the polls and resoundingly handed Trump the nomination?
Still, it is fashionable for conservative wonks to trash Trump, especially if their livelihoods depends on keeping the image of the GOP in line with their ideology. These are the scribes, commentators and beltway insiders who over the years have scolded fellow Republicans for not widening the GOP tent and luring in more diversified folks. Yet these same pontificators now discount Trump’s primary victories, claiming that his support came from voters who had never before self-identified as Republicans, much less voted for one. They blamed Trump’s success on “open primaries” – as if the system were solely intended to muddy the clear waters of conservatism by those who had no busy diving in.
The fact that Donald Trump received more primary votes than any previous Republican candidate is of no importance to the #NeverTrumpers, despite his having plenty of competition. Contrast this to the reception given the Hillary campaign that proudly proclaims their candidate received far and away the most votes in the Democrat primary, which was another way of telling Bernie and his Bern victims to get over it and get out.
The difference, perhaps, is that in the Republican primaries, against all odds and costly PAC ads, the outsider won. But for Sanders, the odds-makers were in on the game from the start. Democrats hypocritically praise Hillary for remaining gracious toward Bernie despite his aggravating string of victories. Well, she could afford to. The junior Senator from Vermont was never really going to upset her political applecart, even if at times he upset her.
It’s different for self-proclaimed conservatives who fear finding themselves irrelevant if Trump wins. So rather than hang in there, they would rather hang the party’s electoral chances in 2016, even if it risks a slow strangulation of the GOP in the wake of an eight-year Clinton presidency. Even Bernie has agreed to support the Democratic front-runner, though he will use his clout to influence the party platform. Couldn’t Republican conservatives do the same?
Apparently not, since they regard compromise and idealism as wholly incompatible. They presume to stand on principle by emphatically stating they cannot stand Trump. Yet what they really cannot stand is the thought of losing their power as influential players within the party. So they buy into the perennial claim of the Democrats that the Republican Party is “in disarray.” They talk nobly about “rebuilding it” even before Trump gives his acceptance speech at the convention.
Yet now some of these primary losers are regarded as sure winners in a General Election, as if they had since concocted some secret sauce by which to charm the universal taste buds of the electorate. Over and over again at the Politicon panels and discussions, conservatives came down as hard on Trump as did their liberal counterparts. Michael Murphy sat on stage like a smug Buddha chortling contemptuously about how he could not possibly support his party’s nominee. No mention was made by his ilk of the ills of Clinton: the phony family foundation; her FBI indictment; the wallowing in Wall Street and Middle East blood money, her abject failures in foreign policy; the lies and more lies. Loud and clear –and almost gleeful, however -- was these conservatives’ liturgy of Trump’s inadequacies: from his past tiff with Rosie O’Donnell to his failure to enunciate future policies. And I heard not a single refutation of the oft-repeated liberal myth that only white, uneducated blue-collar voters are supporting Trump.
The “remaster” mentality of some conservatives could well result in chicanery in Cleveland. If the #NeverTrumpers can’t reconfigure the electoral outcome, they may figure out how to rewrite the rules. The very people who talk so vociferously in defense of “We, the People” and show such contempt for those who break the law, seem unwilling to face the music as it was scored by the majority at the polls.
Certainly, Americans have the right to vote or not vote for whom they please, and for whatever reason. But for the media’s “nattering nabobs of negativism,” as William Safire called them, their fate would seem better served by a Trump presidency than by one in which Hillary calls the shots.
For starters, there would more -- and more exciting -- material to write about. And there would be more communication between the White House and those who are assigned to cover it, if only for the reason that Trump loves to talk to the people. Even though The Donald has taken a few nasty swipes at reporters and they at him, he still prefers mixing it up with the media rather than nixing them as Hillary has. And Trump hasn’t cordoned them off like cattle, as she callously did when they covered her at a New England parade last year. Trump, after all, is willing to make deals. Hillary, on the other hand, takes no prisoners.
So I say to members of the GOP whose anti-Trump drumbeat is contributing to his slippage in recent polls: be careful what you wish for. If you think your party will have trouble rebounding from a Trump victory, consider what it will look like after eight long years of Hillary Clinton at America’s helm. And if during that period her liberal appointees to the Supreme Court hand down lenient edicts on issues like immigration, crime, reproduction, etc. that would further alter our country’s demographics, the Republican Party may find itself unable to win the White House ever again.