Party or country?
They’re in a pickle now.
It has been strangely fascinating and horrifying to watch the Republican party self-destruct.
Witness the Washoe County Republican Central Committee meeting last month when police had to be called after things got a little too physical between members who disagreed about how the leadership would be elected.
That same week in Carson City, the executive board of the Carson City Republican Party voted to expel their Assemblymember, P.K. O’Neill, because they didn’t like his 2015 vote to impose a small corporate tax on large businesses to fund education.
While Democrats continue to feud about Bernie vs. Hillary, there’s no comparison to the deepening schism between establishment Republicans and the party base voters who are solidly behind Donald Trump.
As Frank Rich points out in a recent New York Magazine piece, these Republicans “have every right to say that they are the real Republicans, and after Cleveland, they could even claim to be the de facto new Establishment, if they believe in such a thing.”
Maybe that’s why twice as many Nevadans registered as Democrats last month, rejecting a Republican Party determined to destroy itself.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said as much in a tweet the morning of the Indiana primary: “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…and we will deserve it.”
And then Trump won.
Many Republican strategists are ready to concede the presidential contest, asking their major donors to shift corporate dollars to U.S. Senate candidates in order to preserve Congressional power, presumably to continue their obstructionist behavior, blocking a Democratic president’s agenda even when they agree with it.
Others doubled down on the #NeverTrump movement. A former deputy press secretary to President Bush wrote: “For the thick-headed, #NeverTrump means never ever ever ever ever under any circumstances as long as I have breath never Trump. Get it?” A fundraiser for Senator John McCain declared his intent to vote for Hillary Clinton, tweeting “The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level. I’m with her.”
David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, is also ready to throw in the towel for 2016, urging Republicans to reform their party. In his column, he wrote that “this is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after.”
“Up until now, America’s story has been some version of the rags-to-riches story, the lone individual who rises from the bottom through pluck and work,” Brooks writes. “But that story isn’t working for people anymore, especially for people who think the system is rigged.”
He calls on Republicans to start preparing for the future by taking a much closer look at the “pain there is in this country,” citing the rising suicide rate and the persistent belief by so many that we’re “all in this together” is no longer true.
Set aside the fact that a lot of Democrats share that last sentiment as our leaders exempt billionaires from decades of taxes while insisting the only way to fix our crumbling schools is to raise the regressive sales tax, demanding more money from the poor and seniors on fixed incomes. Republicans must decide whether their party or their country comes first.
It’s disappointing to see Gov. Sandoval and Rep. Joe Heck take the cowardly path, choosing to back Trump, a man who is manifestly unfit to be President, to avoid a backlash from his followers, a backlash that could cost them an election. Senator Heller showed a little more backbone, pointing out that Nevada is the only state that allows a vote for “None of the Above.”
History will not be kind to them, knowing they could have chosen country over party and sent a clear message that our nation is more important than any one election.