Why the GOP cannot openly abandon Trump


As the many efforts to keep Donald Trump ‘on message’ and away from the kinds of incendiary off-the-cuff remarks that seem to cause daily controversy have failed, party leaders have worried that his sliding poll number will drag other GOP candidates down as well, threatening their hold on both houses of Congress and state legislatures.

There have been increasing calls from conservative media and present and party leaders for the party to cut its losses and abandon Trump and put all their resources into supporting all the other candidates.

As he skips from one gaffe to the next, GOP leaders in Washington and in the most competitive states have begun openly contemplating turning their backs on their party’s presidential nominee to prevent what they fear will be wide-scale Republican losses on Election Day.

“He can’t simply continue to preach to the choir and think he’s going to put together a coalition that will win the White House,” said Ryan Williams, a party strategist and former aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “He’s essentially guaranteeing that he will lose by refusing to clean up his mistakes and stop committing future ones.”

More than 100 GOP officials, including at least six former members of Congress and more than 20 former staffers at the Republican National Committee, have signed a letter asking the party chairman, Reince Priebus, to stop helping Trump’s campaign.

They call the New York real estate mogul a threat to the party and to the nation. They want the RNC to take resources now helping Trump and shift them to vulnerable GOP candidates for House and Senate.

The letter follows a steady stream of recent defections from Republican elected officials and longtime strategists who vow never to support Trump. They want party leaders to acknowledge that backing his White House bid is a waste of time and money.

“They’re going to do it sooner or later. They might as well do it sooner to have more impact,” said former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, one of the Republicans to sign the letter to Priebus.

Those advocating such an action say that there is a precedent for it, pointing to 1996 when their nominee Bob Dole looked like he was heading for certain defeat in his race against the incumbent Bill Clinton and the party pretty much gave up on him, with party leaders tacitly assuming his loss in their public statements.

I think that this precedent has no value because Dole and Trump are two vastly different people even if they both seem to be headed for losses. Dole is the ultimate party loyalist, a Republican to the core. He would undoubtedly have been hurt by the party’s abandonment of him after so many years of loyal service but being the good soldier that he was, he would have swallowed his pride and continued to help the party. Note that he was the only former living party presidential nominee to attend this year’s Republican convention, despite being in poor health for some time. If anyone had a good excuse for skipping it, Dole had, but being the loyalist he is, he went for it anyway.

Trump is the complete opposite. He has no loyalty to the party whatsoever. In addition, he harbors grudges against those who he thinks are working against him and would react angrily and vindictively if he felt betrayed. If he felt that the party was cutting him loose, he would think nothing of launching a relentless and extended war against the GOP for its actions and essentially running against the party, damaging it even more, thinking that if they are taking him down, he would take down with him those he felt were responsible.

The Republican party is in a bind. They have truly grabbed the proverbial tiger by the tail. However much they may be appalled at Trump’s erratic behavior, they are stuck with him and there is no escape.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    Mano Singham: I think that this precedent has no value because Dole and Trump are two vastly different people even if they both seem to be headed for losses.

    Another difference is that in the case of Dole, the decision was purely pragmatic: Dole wasn’t going to win, so it made a lot of sense to devote resources where they would be most effective.

    In the case of Trump, disavowing him would also have to include repudiating the things that he is saying,l which are clearly very popular among a very hard core portion of the base, a portion that has no trust or love for the elites who would be doing the disavowing.

  2. says

    If he felt that the party was cutting him loose, he would think nothing of launching a relentless and extended war against the GOP for its actions and essentially running against the party, damaging it even more, thinking that if they are taking him down, he would take down with him those he felt were responsible

    If you lie down with a rabid flea-ridden badger, and handcuff yourself to it, you’re gonna be lucky if all you get is fleas.
    That’s an ancient something-or-other proverb.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    In the best possible scenario for all this, Trump cleans up his act, runs around the country hugging, on camera, all the GOP candidates he can find – and then can’t stand it any more and goes back to being Trump, dragging all his new buddies down the drain with him.

    Hey, I gotta cling to whatever shreds of good news I can conjure, y’know?

  4. sonofrojblake says

    It is funny, watching from a distance, to see the upper echelons of the Republican party appalled at the living embodiment of the hate they’ve been spewing implicitly for years rising up and saying things explicitly, and refusing to be “managed”. It’s even funnier watching them trying to make the calculation of whether they can afford to piss him off. If they do that and he loses, it’ll be really bad for them, but I can’t even imagine how bad it would be for them if they abandoned him and he won – which isn’t impossible. A week is a long time in politics, and there are a lot of weeks between now and election day. There’s more than enough time for Hillary to have a stroke or other major health issue, for example, which while horrible would not come into the category of “completely unexpected”. Trump has been written off before. Anyone who does, does so at their peril. I for one won’t relax until Clinton is sworn in.

  5. Chiroptera says

    sonofrojblake, #4:

    I just read on Nate Silver’s site that there are now signs that Trump is dragging the Republican majority in the Senate down with him.

    Good times. Unless Trump ends up winning, of course.

  6. lorn says

    Dole was a good soldier and a reliable party loyalist. Abandoning him is something he endured stoically. He realizes a soldier makes the sacrifice for the greater good.

    Trump is a narcissist. He thinks of himself as the greater good. He will enthusiastically sacrifice the party to make himself look less bad, and the GOP knows this. They assume that here is some chance that if they stick with The Donald he will direct the malicious energies released by his implosion outward and leave them bruised but relatively intact until the last possible second when they will run away from him so fast that all memory of there having been a Trump will be lost. Trump? Never heard of him.

    Don’t think it can happen? When was the last time anyone at the GOP spoke openly about W? In the words from Madmen: “It will shock you how much it never happened”.

    Upright loyal men are easily betrayed. They will salute sharply and step off the Zeppelin when ordered. It is the assholes, unrestrained by loyalty or duty, as mercenary as the GOP itself, willing to burn the entire institution down to the ground down if it means they might avoid some of the pain that you betray at your risk.

    Dole had principles. Principles he was willing to sacrifice for. Trump only believes in Trump.

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