You want to save the GOP? Just stop Trump.

My father has a saying that he types to test typewriters and word processing software: “Now is the time for every good man to come to the aid of the party.” (I know it’s not a pangram, but this post isn’t about typewriters)

by Curt Bentley
by Curt Bentley

Well, Republican friends, it looks as though our second-to-worst nightmare may come true.  Donald Trump appears to be well on his way to being the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  The only thing that could possibly be worse (OK, slight hyperbole there…) is for Donald Trump to be elected President of the United States.

So, I’m asking all my Republican friends to come to the aid of their party, by doing one simple thing: not voting for Donald Trump.

No matter if he’s the party nominee.

No matter if it you think it ensures that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is elected President (Spoiler: Trump’s not gonna beat Hillary).

No matter if it if you think it ensures that a Democrat is going to appoint multiple Supreme Court justices.

No matter what.

I know you always support the party’s nominee.  I’m aware of Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, suspended as it always is during primary season.  I’m aware that you often view casting a vote for the Republican (especially one you don’t particularly like) as, in reality, a vote against the Democrat.

I usually live by those rules myself.  But this is the time to suspend those rules.

I suppose that it’s still possible that primary voters will come to their senses and Donald Trump won’t be the nominee.  But it seems unlikely, and you should start thinking in terms of what you’re going to do in the (almost) worst-case scenario.

Will you really cast a vote for Donald Trump–a man that nearly everyone I know acknowledges to be openly and stupendously self-serving, manipulative, ruthless, and amoral–just to support the Republican Party or to oppose Hillary Clinton?

Think hard about your answer.

In politics, there are results and processes (fancy words for ends and means).  Donald Trump is a self-serving, results man.  He scoffs at processes, except to the extent he can manipulate them to his own end.  And there are times when that type of Authoritarian-I’m-Gonna-Get-Results-By-Bullying appeals to each of us.

But it appeals to the worst parts of our nature.

Apparently, there are fair number of voters out there who are so frustrated by their inability to achieve their own political agenda that they are willing to embrace Trump’s disgusting amorality in the hopes that The Donald will win and lay the smack down on their enemies, just like he does on The Apprentice and did to Rosie O’Donnell, or Megyn Kelly, or Barack Obama, or whoever else happened to cross him…

But I’m not talking to the Donald Trump supporters.

I’m talking to those of you who worry that you might be compelled to support Trump because he’s the Republican running against Hillary.  I’m talking to those of you who feel that supporting the Republican nominee — even when he or she is not your first choice, or second choice, or second to last choice — is the best way to support conservative political values.

I want to suggest to you that if you really want to support your party, if you really want to stand up for your values, you won’t cast a vote for Trump.

Political parties are tools for the expression of collective opinions in public policy.  Historically, they have been at least somewhat effective at doing that, whether in the position of control or opposition.  And so we align ourselves with them, and support them, even if it means occasionally holding our nose while voting.

But parties only deserve loyalty to the extent they advance the end they exist to serve.

And it doesn’t serve any conservative end to cast a reluctant vote for Trump.  He’s not a conservative.  He’s not a liberal.  He’s not a moderate.  It’s impossible to discern his guiding philosophy in any other terms than that advancement of his own aggrandizement at all costs.

If you want the Republican Party to survive, you won’t cast a vote for Trump. The Republican Party can survive (and has survived) many lost elections.  It’s survived long winters out of political power.  It survives and revives because of the strength of its principles and ideals.

But a Republican Party willing to sacrifice not only its own ideals, but the broader shared societal commitment to basic decency to embrace an amoral authoritarian in the hopes that he’ll stomp out their enemies won’t long survive — nor should it.  I believe that, whether people realize it or not, the continued existence of the Republican Party is in peril.  This peril didn’t begin with Donald Trump, but I think it will end with him — either in the form of a revived Republican Party or a destroyed Republican Party.

Conservatism will continue to exist, regardless of what happens to the Republican Party.  But if we allow — and heaven forbid, help — Trump to destroy the Republican Party, conservatism itself will face a long road back to respectability.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe Donald Trump is no big deal.  Maybe he’s just like every other candidate out there.  But do you really want to roll the dice and find out?  For the sake of casting a vote in support of…Donald Trump??

What should you do then?

You could vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  You could write in a third-party candidate.  You could just decline to cast a vote in the 2016 Presidential election (though make sure to still vote in other races!).  I have my own preference, but honestly, I don’t care which of those three options you choose, so long as you don’t vote for Donald Trump.

Yes, I think it’s that important.  There are more important things than winning an election.

The message those votes from committed Republicans will send is that, although Donald Trump may have been nominated by a handful of primary voters, he is not an acceptable Republican candidate, no matter who his opponent.  And it will mean a lot if it is Republicans themselves who stop The Donald.

Let’s quit talking about who’s to blame for Donald Trump and just stop him.  Looks like we failed to do it in the primary, so let’s do it in the general election.

 

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