Following Romney's defeat by Obama in 2012, the Republicans performed a so-called "autopsy" (officially known as the "Growth and Opportunity Project") of the election results. Among the key recommendations was that the GOP should work to make itself more attractive to ethnic minorities and women. Hah!
What's happened instead? The party has embraced a presidential candidate who has gone out of his way to insult and marginalize Muslims and Hispanics. He has made statements about the African-American community that came across to that very same audience as condescending and clueless. And now, with the release of the Access Hollywood tapes, we can conclude that Trump's idea of outreach to women is pretty much limited to reaching out to them to grab them by their, um, lady parts.
|See? I'm reaching out to women.|
It didn't have to be this way. The Republican leadership could have stood up at the beginning of this sordid affair and said no way will this guy represent our party. Let him open up a third-party challenge, let him siphon off Republican votes, we don't care, there is no f-ing way that we will let this guy be the face of our party, and if he runs as an independent and takes away enough votes to cost us the election, at least afterward we are going to stand before the voters of this country with our dignity and integrity intact.
But they didn't do that. With a few notable exceptions such as Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney, who opposed him from the start, eventually all of the GOP's heavyweights fell in line and endorsed him. Reince Priebus, who even hinted that any Republican not endorsing Trump was in for trouble with the party. John McCain. Mitch McConnell. Paul Ryan. Marco Rubio. Even Ted Cruz, fer crissakes. And many, many others. No matter what offensive statements Trump may have made about whole groups of people, no matter what insults and abuse Trump may have hurled at them personally, no matter what they themselves may have said about Trump's manifest unfitness for the presidency, in the end they all got in line to kiss his orange butt. Most if not all are experiencing some serious buyer's remorse now, but it changes nothing about how ready all of them were to hitch their wagons to an odious, demagogic huckster against their own better judgment.
|Hey guys, why the long faces?|
Last week I listened to an episode of On Point, an NPR program produced here locally and syndicated nationally. The topic was the Weimar Republic, Hitler's rise to power, and parallels (or the lack thereof) between that historical period and the one through which we are living now, occasioned by the recent release of the book Hitler: Ascent by Volker Ullrich. One of the guests, the historian Eric Weitz, was asked by host Tom Ashbrook about what commonalities there may be between the rise of Trump and the rise of Hitler. Weitz answered that there is really only one: the courting of both by conservative elites who thought they would somehow harness Hitler or Trump, respectively, for their own ends, in the process lending each an aura of legitimacy and respectability that neither previously had.
Well, better late than never, I guess. Now that Trump's campaign is turning into a kind of slow-motion train wreck, these opportunistic fools, these disgusting Mitläufer, are tripping over each other to reach the exits as the whole affair blows up in their smirking faces. It is with a fair amount of satisfaction that I observe the corner into which many of them have painted themselves, fearing punishment from mainstream constituents on election day if they continue to support Trump, but facing the wrath of Trump's supporters at the ballot box for withdrawing that support. These guys aren't a bunch of uneducated hicks who fell for Trump's populist snake oil; they knew exactly what they were doing and why. They created this monster and now that it's turned on them, all I can say is: Good.