The Great Dividing has started. As Trump begins to pile up endorsements, others are distancing themselves.
Senators like Jeff Sessions, who isn’t up for re-election until 2020, can probably weather a Trumpnami of downticket losses, or maybe he’s playing for a Secretary of State post. Maine Gov. Paul LePage, N.J. Gov. and failed candidate Chris Christie, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer really don’t care if Trump or Hillary occupies the White House.
Mike Huckabee’s daughter joined Trump’s campaign, after Huckabee knelt before Zod in Iowa. So now Mike is shamefully defending Trump’s failure to quickly and fully repudiate Ku Klux Klan endorsements.
After Trump had black college students in Georgia removed from his rally (on their own campus), he (at a different event) stared down a man wearing a “KKK endorses Trump” t-shirt and a yellow Star of David. Then he said “in the good old days” the police would have acted a lot faster. So much for First Amendment rights (the man was just standing there). Of course, Trump paid for the arena, and he had the right to eject who he wants.
But we all (especially Trump supporters) know what he meant.
And now the Great Dividing has begun.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN’s Chris Cuomo (who seems to be, personally, a really nice guy, making his flagrant use of Astroglide on Trump all the more difficult to watch) that he really hopes he doesn’t have to make the choice on whether to support Trump as the GOP nominee. That’s code-speak for “I’m watching John McCain get disemboweled by the Democrats but don’t want to come out of the #NeverTrump closet just yet.”
In Alabama, octogenarian Sen. Richard Shelby is being primaried by a 33-year-old former Marine, Jonathan McConnell, who’s trying to play both sides of the Cruz/Trump fence. But if McConnell succeeds in forcing a runoff with Shelby, he’s going to have to choose. It’s a dangerous game–knocking Shelby out just to lose to a Democrat in a red state is just one example of how truly disastrous a Trump run will be for the GOP.
Sen. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz’s counterpart in Texas, also prevaricated on Trump. “I think if you don’t support the party nominee, you’re basically voting for Hillary Clinton, and I’m not going to do that.” But he wouldn’t really commit to supporting Trump. He will have to choose. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse has chosen: Sasse is clearly in the #NeverTrump camp.
Cruz himself is playing it safe (and that’s smart). For now, he said he will support the GOP nominee. Saying otherwise would bring an entire fan’s worth of excrement flying toward him, since Trump keeps waving that stupid and worthless pledge he signed with Reince Preibus standing beside him at the Trump Tower last fall. But it’s fairly obvious what Cruz thinks of Trump.
And so we will see the GOP torn asunder, with those who care more for their own featherbeds making deals with the Great Dealmaker and playing for influence (not realizing that once done, Trump will use them and discard them like soiled toilet paper). Those who suffer from a failure of imagination will continue to place the party’s continuing at all costs over their own principles, and those who value principles will have to make the choice to break with the party.
I’m beginning to think Erick may be right, that only an enormous and honorable sacrifice from either Cruz or Rubio to form a unity ticket may be the way to save the party. But I still hold out hope that it won’t be necessary. It’s still very early.
For those who have cast their lot with Barabbas, if they repent, we should forgive. But we should be very wary about trusting them again. Moses had all who had not worshipped the golden calf gather to him, and the rest were killed so that atonement could be made for this great sin. If the GOP (as a vehicle for the conservative movement) survives, there will be an accounting, and our New Testament forgiveness must be tempered with some Old Testament justice.