I grew up in a Republican family and I understand it can be difficult to let go of past habits in one's voting pattern. But in my grandparents' and parents' day, the Republican Party valued knowledge, science, and looked down on out right racism. Fiscal conservatism was a must, but so was staying out of people's bedrooms. And for the most part, the GOP selected sane and responsible candidates, especially at the presidential level. All of that has changed, yet too many otherwise sane Republicans cannot let go and recognize that the GOP has this year nominated a horrible individual as its standard bearer and that for the good of the country, they need to abandon him. A piece in New York Magazine looks at the denial plaguing the GOP voters. Here are excerpts:
If you’re a Republican who has been clinging to the wan hope that Donald Trump might somehow, in his eighth decade on Earth, develop into a plausibly competent president of the United States, the first debate should have been your moment to abandon ship.
Trump displayed the factual command of a small child, the emotional stability of a hormonal teen, and the stamina of an old man, staggering and losing the thread as the 90 minutes wore on. Instead, Republicans — without a single exception I have seen — have responded very differently. They have treated their candidate’s glaring unsuitability for high office as, at worst, a handful of discrete errors that in no way reflect on his character, and at best, the dastardly unfairness of the liberal media.
Among the optimists was conservative columnist Holman Jenkins, who registered his approval with the candidate’s ability to clear two impressive hurdles: make it through the debate without literally dying, and display the ability to make at least one planned action. “He is not a lifelong politician like Mrs. Clinton and it showed,” writes Jenkins. “But he survived on stage.
National Review, which had published a splashy issue devoted to denouncing Trump during the primary, used its post-debate editorial not to remind readers that the array of disqualifying traits it had once denounced were on vivid display, but instead to chastise moderator Lester Holt for exposing them.
Holt’s alleged bias was a favorite subject on the right. Every question that exposed Trump’s unprecedented violation of political norms simply proved to conservatives that their party was being singled out for unprecedented scrutiny. Conservatives expressed a mix of resentment and confusion that Trump faced hostile questions and scrutiny for his refusal to take the expected and routine step of releasing his tax returns. “These columns warned Mr. Trump—and GOP voters—during the primaries that by not releasing his returns he was giving Democrats an opening to assert what he might be ‘hiding,’” warns The Wall Street Journal. Note the scare quotes around the term “hiding,” as if it is a hyperbolic and unfair term to apply to the act of not revealing something that is customarily shared.
The New York Times, which recently published a harrowing account of Trump’s debate preparation, or lack thereof, today has an equally harrowing account of his failures. Trump surrounds himself with completely unqualified advisers offering bad advice (a “large number of voluble people on his prep team, including two retired military figures with no political background”). His advisers are hoping after the first debate to “impress upon him the need to stick to a strategy and a plan of battle.” Trump has a childlike attention span . . . .
So Trump, according to the people trying to help him win, is unable to pick good staff, manage his time, follow advice, or even accept the connection between preparing for an event and succeeding at it. Republicans have so internalized Trump’s wild unsuitability for the presidency that they have decided to treat these facts as mere hurdles to overcome on the path to the presidency. But why are they trying to help him win in the first place?