Following the sexually explicit revelations of Donald Trump’s past, the presidential candidate has turned his guns on the Republican Party as many GOP leaders are pulling their endorsements. At last count about 90 of the 331 Republican Governors, House members and Senators have fled the Trump train. That’s approximately one-fourth of the Republican leadership establishment that have pulled their support for Trump.
Trump’s declaration of war on the Republican Party should be a warning to those remaining Republicans that continue to support him. He’s now focusing his fire on House Speaker Paul Ryan, calling him weak, ineffective and disloyal. However, Trump’s attack was a broader rejection of the Republican Party establishment. That should leave no doubt that he has no loyalty to the Republican Party and will use any means to destroy anybody or anything standing in his way. In Trump’s latest tweet-rants he says disloyal Republicans are more difficult than the Democrats.
“They (Republicans) come at you from all sides, they don’t know how to win-I will teach them…It’s so nice the shackles have been taken off of me and now I can fight for America the way I want to.”
That should scare every Republican because he has added them to his hit list along with Democrats. Trump is saying he will destroy every Republican that refuses to get in line and salute him. When he says he “will teach them to win” he dismisses them as fumbling fools that require his coaching to succeed.
Prior to the sexually explicit tapes, a relatively small group of the GOP establishment members (Bush, Romney, and Kasich) refused to support Trump. Now those fleeing the sinking ship have become a stampede as they try to save themselves from getting pulled down in the vortex.
However, Trump’s attacks on the Republican Party changes the stakes dramatically. Up to this point Republicans support for Trump was a gamble. They have been weighing the Trump association as a positive or negative. If they thought they needed Trump supporters to win, they have stayed with him. If his negatives were too great that it might rub off on them, they rejected him.
With the attack on their party it becomes a much bigger gamble. It’s a choice about who will have ultimate control of their party. Trump is already setting the stage for a possible loss by blaming the Republican Party’s disloyalty for his defeat. He is also beginning a narrative that “it’s rigged.” It appears that he intends to blame the Republican Party if he loses and will destroy them in the process.
This may be the Republicans last chance to save their party from becoming the Party of Trump. He has demonstrated through the primaries and now the general election that he has incredibly loyal and committed supporters. That 35-40% of Republicans have the power to crush the leadership of their Republican Party if Trump chooses to use them for that destruction. Just as he can turn that hardcore constituency against Ryan, he can turn it against a Grassley or a Branstad.
Trump has shown he has no loyalty to the Republican Party or to their conservative principles. Republicans remaining loyal to Trump is a commitment to a megalomaniac that will turn on them in an instant. He is described as a cornered injured animal that will lash out at anyone within reach.
Yet none of Iowa’s Republican leaders seem to be wavering in their support for Trump. They have condemned his recently released sexually explicit taped conversations, but refuse to budge in their support for him. Trump is rewarding their unwavering loyalty by attacking their Republican Party.
Branstad doubled down in his Monday news conference by pulling the Trump ISIS fear card to scare Iowans into supporting Trump. He suggested Islamic terrorist sympathizers are operating in Iowa and suggested only Trump is addressing the threat. Branstad must choose between his Republican Parties leadership and a Trump hijacked party. If Branstad thinks Trump will reward him for loyalty, he wasn’t paying attention as Trump crushed every Republican primary opponent.
Grassley is part of the Republican leadership that Trump is now attacking. Trump’s attacks are an assault on the legitimacy of Grassley’s position as a part of that leadership as well. Is Grassley going to gamble that he will win reelection regardless and can remain above the fight as his party is destroyed? He may get reelected but could he survive in a party hijacked by Trump?
Iowa Republicans must decide. Will you save your party and country from destruction by rejecting Trump? Time is running out. Your party can still unite and unanimously reject Trump or you may face the destruction of your own party at the hands of Trump.
Democrats may be pleased to see a deeply divided Republican Party that is tearing itself apart. However, if Trump loses will Clinton be left with such a divided and bitter electorate that our very democracy will be challenged? Will Trump accept a loss and acknowledge Clinton as a legitimate President, or will he defy the historical precedent by challenging the election results? The great fear is he will use his core base to create disruption, chaos and insurrection. Trump threatened to jail Clinton in the recent debate. His crowds often chant lock her up. Will Trump continue to encourage his followers to undermine democratic institutions if he loses? The very foundations of our democracy may be endangered regardless of the election results.
by Rick Smith