Friday, December 11, 2015

Will the GOP dump Trump?

House Speaker Paul Ryan took exception to Trump's plan to ban all Muslim immigrants. But he then pledged to back whoever claims the GOP nomination. The article in illustrates the trouble with that duality. Trump is the GOP and they is he.

House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. by saying, “this is not who we are as a party or a country.” Ryan is mistaken: Trump represents exactly what the GOP is, and what progressives must not let America become.

Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration plan earned him the strongest criticism yet from many of his fellow Republicans. “This is not conservatism,” Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

However, Ryan’s condemnation of Trump juxtaposed with his next words illustrates the challenge Trump’s candidacy presents to Republicans. Asked if he would back Trump if the party nominated him, Ryan tried to have it both ways. He answered, “I’m going to support whoever the Republican nominee is and I’m going to stand up for what I believe in as I do that.”

That just does not cut it. If the GOP establishment really does not want a Trump ticket next November, they need to get guts and tell Trump to get gone.

Ryan is wrong, however, that Trump does not represent what the Republican party stands for. Trump’s front-runner status in Republican presidential primary polls reflects his increasing popularity with the Republican base. As John Nichols wrote in The Nation, the Republican party will not be the Party of Lincoln again until Republicans have the courage to say they will not back a Trump-led Republican ticket. “A failure to reject the billionaire’s vile bigotry at this relatively early stage of the campaign,” Nichols writes, “cedes the fight for the soul of the party to Trump.”

Here's more of what Nichols has to say about how Paul Ryan is helping Trump.

The longer the GOP waits to disconnect itself from Trump, the worse it will be for that party - "worse" in the sense of Trump having an even bigger following. "Worse" in the sense of the GOP being identified as not the party of Lincoln but the party of Hitler. "Worse" in the sense of Trump being just fine with that.

But the thing is, the party rank-and-file might be just fine with Trump. Here's one take on that from Paul Waldman in The Plum Line (Washington Post).

The question of the day is whether Republicans, particularly the Republicans running for president, would support Donald Trump if he were to become the party’s nominee. Much as they might hem and haw when they get asked — many insist that it’s a moot point since he won’t be the nominee — the real answer is simple: Of course they would.

It’s a natural question to ask. If you’re saying on one hand that he’s “entirely unsuited to lead the United States” (John Kasich), or that his plan to ban Muslims from coming to the country “is not what this party stands for. And, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for” (Paul Ryan), or that he’s “unhinged” (Jeb Bush), or that he’s “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” (Lindsey Graham), then it’s awfully hard to say on the other hand that if he’s your party’s nominee for president, you’ll be right at his side.

Yet that’s exactly what Republicans are saying, even if not in so many words. I have yet to see a single prominent Republican say that they won’t support Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee. [And that includes our two US Senators from AZ.]

There’s some threshold of villainy Trump could cross where his fellow Republicans would say that they couldn’t support him under any circumstances. But wherever that threshold is, he hasn’t reached it yet.

Local angle

AZ Senators split on support for Trump - McCain for, Flake against. Jim Nintzel at TucsonWeekly/TheRange covers more sources of opinion on what, if anything, the "establishment" can or will do about Trump. But read it carefully. For all of Flake's non-support, he does not say whether he will support Trump if Trump gets the nomination.

So will the GOP dump Trump?

Doesn't look like it.

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