What this country needs is an election divorced from traditional Republican and Democratic labels.
|It's hard for Republicans to look|
Hillary in the face.
Breaking the mold, you would think, benefits Trump, except for the number of Republicans straining to break the leash of a party that so ineptly let him take over and are forcing them to embrace the tone, statements, divisiveness and spastic values the presidential candidate embodies.
For decades Hillary has been Medusa for Republicans. How can they now look her in the eye and admit they were misled on Whitewater, Benghazi, emails, you name the manufactured scandal? A lifelong Republican has got to put those stories in perspective first before they recognize the importance of voting for her.
They may just stay away, which is not healthy for democracy. But if you examine the platforms and personalities of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, it’s not just they don’t have a chance, it’s that they sound distant from Republican values and even more naïve.
How reality is changing things. For Republicans I’ve talked to and even suffered insults from, there is now something that quietly bothers them more than Hillary. It’s their own candidates dissembling. Candidates who say they may vote for Trump but can’t endorse him. Or that they can’t endorse him or vote for him but won’t vote for her. Or just don’t ask me, I’m too busy. The confusion looks like profiles in cowardice, but there’s a lot of Republican heritage standing in the way of being sensible and voting for Hillary. Republicans are actually angry at their own candidates because that uncertainty reflects their own.
As a national party Republicans are in a struggle to be honest with themselves. It’s not just that they disagree with some Democratic approaches to government. They have lived with those for eight years and survived quite nicely. Now it is their own beliefs that have been shanghaied and are subject to whatever change Trump thinks will fly in the winds of his own bloviating. What do they now stand for – and behind whom?
Be kind. Who among us can admit that we were wrong for decades? Many Republicans are going through the stages of grief, particularly denial and still not ready for resignation and acceptance.
Traditional members are accustomed to the give and take that underlies American politics. They expect to win some, lose some and negotiate others to a result they can claim is a victory. They’ve had Reagan and the Bushes and even of late Republicans have represented nearly half the country (and more in terms of statehouses). Now, confronted by a gridlock in D.C. based on many issues they have mixed feelings on, from health care to background checks, from infrastructure to environmental protection, they have been hooked into standing by their party’s “principles.”
But using the name ”Trump” and the term “principle” in the same sentence has become impossible.
No matter how he tries to cool his image and stick to the teleprompter, not matter how he tries to sound like a mellowed policy wonk, the real Trump continually exposes himself, and his vagaries. Supporting him risks joining the “deplorables” who genuinely exist and in noisiness dominate his rallies. No wonder so many in the GOP are conflicted.
The GOP is a party regionally strong but likely to grow nationally weaker because of Trump. He would have a harder time than Hillary in forming coalitions in Congress. The smarter members of the GOP have already made the pivot to work down the ballot, supporting people who say never Trump and even those who say maybe Trump or halfway house Trump.
The universal reaction to Hillary’s bout with pneumonia proves the point. Republicans were almost as panicked as Democrats at the specter of illness playing a role in who wins the White House.
But in this time of needed rescue, how can Republicans turn to Clinton to protect their nation after so many years bashing her? And then there is the left side of the Democrats, who want the 69 year old Hillary to be the 75 year old Bernie or at least an agent of change though both have been pillars of the establishment. (Both Hillary and Bernie would despise that statement, since both in their own way have spent their careers pushing against the establishment, but time in service alone makes them vulnerable to that charge.) Nor can Hillary repeat the might of the Obama coalition (who could?). But at least those younger voters and progressives are slowly recognizing that only Hillary in office represents their own advance and security.
If Republicans continue to think like Republicans, and Democrats do the same, Clinton won’t win the majority she and America deserve and the GOP will have wasted energy it needs to spend down the ballot, where the party has a stronger chance to survive (as painful as that is for a liberal like me to admit). That’s why even conservative writers are warning that a Trump victory would more likely destroy the Republican Party than a Clinton win.