By Robert Mann
Imagine you’re a Republican member of Congress from a Southern state, someone like Sen. Bill Cassidy, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise or Rep. Garret Graves. You know Donald Trump’s candidacy is a joke. He’s the most reckless, corrosive major-party presidential candidate ever. From the moment he announced, you knew he could cripple or destroy your party.
Once he captured the nomination, however, you quietly endorsed him. In May, you lent your name to a press release issued by your state party. Or maybe, like Graves, you ditched the release. But days later, when pressed by reporters at the Baton Rouge Press Club, you coughed up a mild endorsement, affirming your support of “the party’s nominee.” You could not bring yourself to mumble his name.
But you endorsed him still. After he led the racist “birther” movement. After he called Mexicans “rapists.” After he attacked Sen. John McCain for being “captured” in Vietnam. After he made many degrading statements about women (including his own daughter). After he demanded a ban on Muslim immigration. After all that, you endorsed him.
You comfort yourself now with the unsatisfying rationale, “I did my duty to the party. That and no more.” Since then, you haven’t campaigned for him. You won’t cry when he loses, and you hope his defeat will be a painful lesson that the rhetorical sewage he unleashed should never again poison our nation or your party.
You hope columnist George Will was right when he wrote, “Trump is the GOP’s chemotherapy, a nauseating but, if carried through to completion, perhaps a curative experience.”
Here’s what haunts you: You know, no matter the outcome, history will record that you endorsed Trump and stuck with him because you were afraid of the political consequences if you withdrew your support. Some call it political savvy. Others know it as cowardice.
You were afraid if you spoke out against Trump it would offend his supporters. You know they admire him much more than you. And you know their passion for Trump might spark retribution for those who abandon him.
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