Fair-weather Republicans Finally Getting Onboard?

Republicans, particularly those of the establishment ilk, cozy with the big donors and other party elites, have been reluctant to join the Donald Trump train. Fearing a landslide defeat on election day, these Republicans felt it in their best political interests to steer far clear of the Trump Titanic so as not to see their political futures dragged to the bottom of the electoral sea.

After sticking their fingers into the political winds, they decided the safer route would be to steer clear of Donald Trump, all in the hopes that come November 9, they could sit atop their high horses and proclaim, “See I told you so.”

As the political winds shifted this past week, with tightening polls and more talk of a Trump victory than a Clinton landslide, some of the fair weather Republicans are reconsidering their sideline stance, preferring to be on the winning train rather than being left at the station.

Paul Ryan was tap dancing around his party’s nominee. At a recent campaign rally, he told voters, "We are going to win everything including the White House." In Lord Voldemort fashion, Ryan never mentioned, "He Who Cannot Be Named", the actual candidate Donald Trump. At least Ryan is on the train, perhaps hanging on rather than seated, but on the train. Like Cruz, Ryan is campaigning with Pence, not with Trump.

Mitch McConnell is the GOP leader most firmly on the Trump train, although he too was late to the station and almost missed the train. Speaking at a recent rally, he told voters, "We need a new president, Donald Trump, to be the most powerful Republican in America."

Why the recent change in heart for GOP leaders? If they believed Trump was going to be thrashed in the election, they would run from Trump like scalded dogs, wanting no fingerprints on his candidacy, defeat and potentially the loss of one or both houses of Congress.

If McConnell was worried about keeping the Senate under GOP control, he could simply attend events of his challenged Senate candidates, supporting them, avoiding the presidential election all together. Instead, McConnell and his fellow leaders must be contemplating the real possibility that Trump could win this thing.

Or if Trump loses, and it’s a close election, the Republican Congress will face the wrath of an enraged GOP electorate. The Republican leadership would be correctly blamed for not supporting their party’s candidate, chosen by their voters and constituents. A tough loss that might have been prevented through support from the party leaders and other #NeverTrumpers.

A furious electorate of Trump supporters, in the tens of millions, might walk away from the Republican Party entirely, taking their contributions and votes to a third party or they might just stay home come the next election.

If Trump does win, but without the support of Congressional leaders, where does that leave them in a Trump administration? Trump doesn’t suffer fools gladly and could easily bypass the Republican leaders and work with Democrats instead. Utilizing his “Art of the Deal”, finding common ground and negotiating with his opponents to advance his agenda, leaving Republican leaders alone in the sandbox.

The big question for elected Republicans is which side of this election do they want to be on? Will the Democrats and their voters reward #NeverTrumpers for their principled stand, for their superior morals and ethics ushering in a President Clinton with zero morals and ethics? Fat chance. Followed by the well-deserved punishment elected Republicans receive from their own voters for not supporting Trump?

Or do they want to be on the Trump train, doing everything they can to bring victory to their party? And a chance to slow or stop destructive Obama agenda? A true time for choosing. Get on the train or sit at the empty station waving goodbye. 

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

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