The Republican Party is in shambles and party officials have no one to blame but themselves. Donald Trump has emerged from years of fear-mongering and conspiratorial thinking within the party. From the birther movement and outrageous accusations leveled at Planned Parenthood to beliefs that elections are rigged, the Republican Party has harbored conspiratorial thinkers for years.
The history can even be stretched back to the Sen. Joseph McCarthy era, in which McCarthy led a crusade against alleged communists who had supposedly taken over the State Department. The result was a spread of paranoia throughout factions of the party and the rise of the extremist group the John Birch Society. For years, Republican leaders were largely able to contain the extremists that they housed within their party. However, they no longer can.
Trump’s sudden and unexpected rise to the top of the Republican Party has left its leaders in an uncomfortable position. The party’s darker side has emerged into the mainstream for all to see. Party officials are being forced to either endorse Trump and risk being associated with his disparaging rhetoric aimed at women, immigrants and refugees, or go against him and break party tradition.
Either way, Republican politicians risk losing voters and respect from their constituents. Trump also could negatively affect Republicans in races for both the House and Senate, further weakening the Republican Party.
Trump certainly is not doing much to help relieve Republicans of the position he put them in. His fundraising from July for the Republican National Committee was less than half as much as Mitt Romney’s from four years ago, and in many instances he has actively attacked the committee, rather than supporting them.
Trump recently tweeted “Disloyal [Republicans] are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides,” “Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty” and finally, “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”
These tweets came after a conference call between House Speaker Paul Ryan and fellow Republicans, where Ryan explained he would no longer campaign or defend Trump. Rather than unifying the GOP as its presidential nominee should, Trump has further divided it and left it in shambles.
Although Ryan will no longer defend Trump’s actions, he has not reversed his endorsement. Fellow Wisconsinites, Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., continue to endorse Trump as well.
Other Republicans have taken a different path. Former presidential nominee Mitt Romney explained that he could not vote for Trump or Clinton as “a matter of personal conscience.” Another former Presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., retracted his support following Trump’s recent degrading remarks about women. In total, over 160 Republican leaders have declared they cannot support Donald Trump. Many of these people have even stated they will vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps one of the strongest indicators of the Republican Party’s current disastrous state is the The Arizona Republic’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton. In more than 125 years, The Arizona Republic had never endorsed a Democrat for president—until this election. Mi-Ai Parrish, the president and publisher of The Arizona Republic, explained that “We chose patriotism over party. We endorsed the Democrat.”
The fallout from this endorsement was telling. The paper has since faced death threats, claims that it should be burned down and remarks that the paper is “un-American.” All because they endorsed a Democrat for president. Generally a Republican stronghold, Arizona may actually swing in favor of Clinton this election cycle.
As I see it, the Republican Party is deeply divided and in shambles. Leading in numerous national polls, Clinton is on track to become America’s next president. Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign is threatening Republicans in many House and Senate races across the country. With a presidential nominee like Trump, it could be hard to vote for a candidate associated with such a controversial and polarizing figure to win their own race.
I do not identify as a Republican or a Democrat, and I wonder what it must feel like to have your political party taken over by a man who disparages women, spreads remarks that damage American national security and attacks the very people who he should be uniting. It probably does not feel very good.
I do not feel bad for the Republican establishment though. They did this to themselves. By failing to unite against Trump to prevent him from being nominated in the first place and for housing conspiracy theorists and extremists within their party for years, they have no one to blame for their devastating presidential nominee but themselves.