They say that every dark cloud has a silver lining, and I think we’re seeing one with Trump.
What could possibly be good about Trump’s rise, you ask? Maybe this one thing – he’s exposing several influential lawmakers for what they are: opportunists who care less about principle than power. Several former candidates have essentially endorsed Trump since suspending their campaigns. These politicians, who formerly railed against the front-runner, have done a 180-degree turn.
Some have said that voting for Trump doesn’t necessarily equal support for him, but nothing could be further from the truth. Casting votes for politicians means you’re endorsing them, their policies, and even their behavior. If you can’t do those things, then you shouldn’t be giving them your vote.
Speaker Paul Ryan
The Speaker took a while to decide whether or not he would back Trump. He finally announced he would be voting for the GOP front-runner in early June. In the short time since then, he’s already had to denounce Trump and his racist comments against Judge Gonzalo Curiel, yet continues to back him. Why? Ryan is afraid to stand on principle, something he’s had trouble with in the past. (Voting for TARP is a major example.) As reported this week:
Paul Ryan on Tuesday said Trump’s outrageous attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage are “the textbook definition of racist comments,” some of his most caustic remarks about his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
But Ryan refused to walk away from his recent Trump endorsement.
“I do absolutely disavow his comments. I think they’re wrong,” Ryan said. “But do I believe Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not.”
He believes supporting Trump over Hillary is the answer, but misses that supporting Trump, at the cost of principles, destroys any vestige of conservatism remaining in the GOP.
Governor Rick Perry
While boasting a solid record as former governor of Texas, Perry has nonetheless been a disappointment in the months since suspending his presidential campaign. His initial dislike and distrust of Trump was apparent, as CNN reported:
When Perry was a candidate for president earlier in the 2016 cycle, he was the first to come out and criticize Trump and question his conservative credentials, calling his candidacy a “cancer on conservatism.”
That’s quite a bold statement, and something one would think isn’t easily glossed over. However, upon endorsing Trump officially in May, Perry said this:
“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them,” Perry said Thursday.
“He wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, but he is the people’s choice,” Perry added.
All those statements go a long way to tarnishing the reputation of the strong, principled conservative leader that many have seen in Perry. Apparently, the about-face was all career-related, as Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
“I like him,” Trump said about Perry. “I’d like to get him involved in some capacity at a high level. Because I think he’s very good. I think he’s very very good. He’s also very good on the border,” Trump said.
Senator Marco Rubio
Rubio and Ted Cruz were the last real candidates to stay in the race apart from Trump. (No, I’m not going to mention Kasich who had no chance whatsoever.) It was clear that Rubio strongly disliked Trump on the campaign trail. In February he said “a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary”. Soon his outlining of policy differences, and his mentioning how big of a threat Trump was, turned into outright mocking. Though Rubio later apologized for joking about Trump’s small hands, he had already stooped low in order to fight the front-runner. However, since exiting the race, Rubio has all but endorsed Trump. Toward the end of May, Rubio indicated he not only wouldn’t vote for Hillary, but would speak at the convention on Trump’s behalf. Now, Rubio has changed tune once again, as Politico reports:
…Rubio reaffirmed his statement from February — when he was still in the throes of a nasty primary battle — that America can’t give “the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.”
“I stand by everything I said during the campaign,” Rubio said on Thursday.
Rubio’s wobbly support of Trump comes after the presumptive Republican nominee’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage have caused a number of Republican lawmakers to rethink their endorsements of the billionaire.
Rubio also recently walked back his prior pledge to speak on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention, saying last Monday that he would only talk about his own beliefs, and not as part of Trump’s platform.
Is it just me, or is Rubio determining how to respond to Trump’s status as GOP nominee based on how he thinks voters and GOP power brokers will respond? If he truly stands by everything he said while campaigning, then he would never have endorsed Trump nor encouraged others to vote for him. But, as with Ryan, this is not really the first time we’ve witnessed Rubio fudge principle for politics. Recall that after years of talking tough on illegal immigration, Rubio caved to political pressure with his collaboration on the now-infamous “Gang-of-Eight” bill. In the face of subsequent conservative protest, he declared that the bill “was never intended to become law,” which was at best a cheap evasion and at worst the platitude of a man caught in moral cowardice.
So amidst all of the catastrophe he’s brought and will continue to bring, Trump has done one useful thing – he’s exposed prominent GOP and their tendency to cave under pressure. This isn’t to say that disastrous Trump won’t do the same thing. In fact, he’s shown himself to be all over the place in terms of policy stance. His speeches and interviews are nothing more than a word salad, and we can’t be certain what he will do in office. Nevertheless, his absurd campaign has exposed many in the GOP, like those named above, who would rather cave to popularity than stand on principle. That by itself has pushed many out of the GOP for good.
The Republican party, by supporting Trump, absolutely rejects conservatism. Now voters who were already disillusioned with the GOP are rejecting the party as a whole. And that’s a good thing.