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There was a time when the Republican National Committee was terrified that Donald Trump would launch a third-party run. Now their biggest fear should be Trump as the face of the Republican party.
Once a candidate is the presidential nominee, it is the party’s job to defend every statement he makes. When Romney criticized the 47 percent, or McCain suspended his campaign after the economic crisis, or George W. Bush was blindsided by reports of a 1976 drunk driving arrest, the RNC had to support their candidates and aggressively attempt to spin the bad news in their favor.
Every candidate makes missteps here and there, but Trump has based his campaign on indefensible statements. Criticizing POWs because “I like people who weren’t captured.” Claiming a debate moderator had “blood coming out of her wherever.” Saying that in New Jersey, “thousands of people were cheering” the fall of the World Trade Center. Bragging that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
And when The Donald talks policy, it gets even worse. Trump promised “I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” Reince Priebus, et al., will have to passionately back a pro-torture position in a general election.
If Trump repeats that his extremist pro-choice sister would make a great Supreme Court nominee, the party will have to applaud his vision, along with her defense of partial birth abortion.
“I will tell you. They lied,” Trump said about the Bush Administration. “And they said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none.” The RNC press shop will have to agree that Dubya lied his way into the Iraq War and denounce the party’s complicity in promoting this lie. And then the RNC will need to reverse their position when Trump does the following day.
Trump has denounced free trade and threatened tariffs as high as 35 percent. There goes a prominent plank of the Republican platform, newly aligning the party with a rump of far-left economists and Big Labor.
The natural end result of Trumpism is the destruction of Reagan’s three-legged stool, not by sawing down one leg or another, but simultaneously tossing social conservatives, economic conservatives, and defense conservatives into the wood chipper. By necessity, the party will need to be utterly destroyed and remade in The Donald’s image.
Meanwhile, the RNC is charged with backing the election of numerous congressmen, senators, and other down-ballot Republicans whose positions are diametrically opposed to their party’s nominee. Can the party support a candidate who promises to repeal Obamacare when Trump says that he loves the mandate? Will congressional candidates agree that we should “bomb the oil” and then, somehow, take it for ourselves? Do would-be senators in swing states agree that Muslims be banned and deride Hispanic illegal immigrants as marauding rapists?
A party divided against itself will not stand. Nor should it. It would have lost its reason to exist.
Of course the loathed GOP establishment brought this nightmare upon itself after double-dealing conservative voters for decades and mocking the Jeremiahs warning of a coming judgment. The entertainment wing gleefully promoted the reality star as he lashed out at feckless beltway culture. But that is all history. Today, everyone on the right needs to figure out the least bad way forward.
According to most polls, Trump will lose to a Democratic nominee. More and more party faithful are announcing that they cannot in good conscience pull the lever for an anti-conservative like The Donald. After dithering for months, waiting in vain for Trump to fail on his own, the RNC has a decision to make.
The only way the party has a future is for them to cut Trump loose so he can fall on his own. Otherwise, the entire organization will go down with him.