The Republican Party is on the verge of being set back a generation because of its Presidential nominee. If Republican Party officials do not man up and publicly repudiate their nominee, the voters will repudiate the GOP as the voters did in 2006. This time, however, it will be far more costly with far more long term damage. Thus far Lindsey Graham is the only major Republican to walk back his pledge of support for Trump, but his views reflect those of several dozen Republican governors, senators, and congressmen too chicken to speak out.
The Republican Party leadership is, like so often before, so focused on not angering anyone that everyone is angry with them. Right now, though, what is most shocking and demoralizing is that party leaders actually know the right thing to do and will not do it. They know Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel are way over the line. They know Donald Trump’s willingness to double down on war crimes is way over the line. They know Donald Trump’s support of a minimum wage increase and protectionist policies are economic disasters waiting to happen. His campaign has taken to threatening individuals including the wife of David French.
But what’s more, Republican Party officials privately are already conceding that with Donald Trump the party does face annihilation. Only Lindsey Graham is willing to say it publicly, but others in the upper levels of the party know it too.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another former primary rival of Mr. Trump’s, urged Republicans who have backed Mr. Trump to rescind their endorsements, citing the remarks about Judge Curiel and Mr. Trump’s expression of doubt on Sunday that a Muslim judge could remain neutral in the same lawsuit, given Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim noncitizens entering the country.
“This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” Mr. Graham said. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” he added. “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”
Those Republicans who did think they could control Trump or that Trump would tone down his rhetoric also now realize they were delusional. Trump just yesterday threw his staff under the bus, telling his campaign surrogates that his own staff was stupid. This is the man who brags about the people he hires and he is calling them stupid.
When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.
“Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said.
Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her. He openly questioned how the campaign could defend itself if supporters weren’t allowed to talk.
“Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”
What’s more, Trump’s top surrogates are beginning to leak in an effort to undermine his campaign. The significant details of this conference call leaking to reporters has not gone unnoticed. Trump’s campaign is also whispering on background that there really is no campaign. He has no data operation, little staff, and the wheels are starting to fall off before the Democrats even begin their $20 million blitz in the month of June.
The information regarding Trump University is awful and only going to get worse. The information regarding Trump’s former relationships and allegations of abortions is going to come out and suppress evangelical voters. The information regarding the Trump family’s rentals to black families is going to weigh him down. The information regarding Trump’s treatment of veterans is going to hurt him with that constituency. Trump’s taxes will haunt him too as will his lack of charitable contributions.
That’s only the beginning. It is going to be brutal. But consider this fact: we have not even gotten to those attacks yet and we already have enough information to disqualify Trump.
He is urging surrogates to attack reporters as racist at a time he is making racist attacks on a judge to try to undermine a fraud case. That fraud case already shows Trump employees will testify against Trump. Military and intelligence officials are already publicly worried about giving Trump classified information and Trump still insists he would have our military commit war crimes.
At some point, the good of the country demands Republican leaders exercise leadership against Trump. To hell with what a plurality of mostly non-Republican voters demanded in the Republican Party. The Republican Party’s long term survival is at stake and, frankly, the good of the country far outweighs demands of loyalty to a racist.
Lindsey Graham is a public voice who reflects the private sentiment of several dozen Republican governors, senators, and congressmen. It is time for them to speak out too. The GOP needs an intervention. It will either abandon Trump or see the nation abandon it for a generation.