Moving Past the (Fake) Elephant in the Room

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Photo courtesy of CNN.

Everybody calm down.

I’m generally loathe to give Donald Trump any more media or attention than he’s already receiving, so I’m going to go the indirect route this month. Rather than pontificate on the loathsome, bloviating, fetid-squash-that’s-been-run-over-by-a-Volvo that is Trump, let me instead address my Republican friends out there. (I really do have a few; I live in the Midwest, after all.)

Mitt Romney’s recent attack on Trump, rightly calling him a “phony” and a “fraud,” was an interesting strategy. Despite Romney’s failure to win the White House from President Obama in 2012, he remains somewhat popular in the GOP and his endorsement presumably carries a lot of weight in 2016. It was, therefore, a choice for him to deliver, basically, an anti-endorsement — sort of a grown-up version of an “Anybody But Trump” campaign.

Predictably, Trump instantly shot Romney down, dismissed his speech, labeled him as irrelevant and moved on. It was obvious to anyone paying attention that this would be the outcome, so it’s not terribly surprising that the GOP thought otherwise, considering they were oblivious enough to indirectly create the atmosphere for Trump to succeed in the first place.

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Still, what’s a troubled Republican to do? They still do have some options. First, they should admit that their constant tripping-the-light-sycophantic with the Tea Party has led to the current situation. Second, if they truly want to keep the White House Trump-free and not lose the races for the Senate and House colossally, they should probably come to terms with the fact that they will not win back the presidency this time around. If they couldn’t oust Trump into running as a third-party candidate himself, they could at least offer up senators — Cruz, Rubio — as a sacrificial lamb and/or alternative candidate. For Cruz, it might be a way of being eliminated from future consideration; for Rubio, whom many Republicans like but have judged as unready for prime time, they could offer a binky: play the spoiler in 2016 to ensure party support in 2020. Though this would virtually ensure a Clinton or Sanders presidency, it may save the GOP from catastrophic defeat. It would also give them the ability to say “No, we did not support this insufferable racist and xenophobe, and we did everything in our power to keep him from winning.”

The problem with this idea — a sensible scenario to prevent a united GOP from supporting one of the most reprehensible political personalities since Richard Nixon — is that it would require a GOP to be united and sensible. There would have to be no questioning party lines, no vague waffling (and no “I don’t support everything he says, but I’ll support the eventual nominee”), and absolutely no breaking ranks. If the GOP leadership could actually unite the party to defy Trump, they would not only flirt with the idea that their party does have principles, but they might well succeed in pushing Trump out of the nomination altogether. The one reliable thing about Trump is that he is a house of cards: the minute that campaigning (or, God forbid, governing) becomes too difficult or opens the opportunity for him to fail, he will crumble, cut and run. He will blame, obfuscate, make excuses and content himself as a talking head (with tiny baby hands), ranting about how he would have done it so much better if he hadn’t been ousted by the “establishment.” (Sound familiar, Gov. Palin?)

I know one thing: a Republican Party that cannot or will not stand united against a man who flagrantly demonizes and condescends to women, Muslims, Latinos, Jews, other Republicans, voters and Europe  will lose the respect of millions of Americans who otherwise see the basic precepts of its platform as a reasonable alternative to the Democrats. I have cautious optimism that there are enough better angels in America who will vote in droves to stop a potential President Trump — certainly enough to shout down the terrifyingly significant number of bigoted xenophobes who will support him. There is still a scant hope that the GOP, if they unify, can stop this folly. However, if the party can’t pull it together to stop the monster they’ve created, they deserve everything that’s coming to them.