For the entirety of the general election cycle, we’ve heard Donald Trump and his supporters claim that conservatives have no choice but to support him. After all, Trump said, he would appoint a fifth conservative justice to the Supreme Court (never mind that Justice Roberts is at best a mixed bag) and build a wall (never mind that deportations are the most critical element of any immigration policy). Trump defenders continually beat the drums on this: Sure, you might not be able to trust Trump, but you could trust Hillary to do the wrong thing on such issues. That made Trump the safest bet.
On Sunday and Monday, the Trump team itself utterly destroyed this argument.
We know Trump doesn’t care one iota about conservatism because he doesn’t care one iota about whether Republicans carry the Senate or the House. In order for Trump to implement anything remotely approaching a serious conservative agenda, he’d have to have a significant Republican majority in both houses of Congress. No Republican Senate majority, no Scalia-like justice. No House majority, no wall.
Trump knows that. But he’s now initiated a full-scale war against active Republican candidates simply to gratify his ego, blistered from a lifetime of emotional masturbation. He’s less interested in governing as a conservative than in grabbing dissenting Republicans by the . . . well, you know.
This weekend, after Republicans began deserting Trump in droves in order to contain the Stand-like political infection he’s unleashed, Trump began actively undermining Republican chances in Congress. First, he tweeted, “So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers — and elections — go down!” This was an open call to his supporters to unleash their wrath against vulnerable Republicans in tight races — to get Democrats elected, in other words.
Next, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, appeared on MSNBC, where she threatened to out unnamed non-Trumpian members of Congress as sexual abusers, or slander them wholesale:
I would talk to some of the members of Congress there when I was younger and prettier, them rubbing against girls, sticking their tongues down women’s throats who were uninvited, didn’t like it . . . you know it’s true. And some of them, by the way, are on the list of people who won’t support Donald Trump because they all ride around on their high horse.
Then, Trump went after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan directly. Ryan had the temerity to say on a conference call that he’d still be voting for Trump, but that he wouldn’t defend him or campaign with him. That led Trump to tweet, “Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.” Of course, Trump could spend more of his time on not being the worst Republican candidate in history rather than bashing the man he needs in order to pass his agenda. But that wouldn’t be Trumpian, would it?
It didn’t stop there. Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, the effervescently excrescent Katrina Pierson, tweeted, “I can’t keep my phone charged due to the mass volume of texts from people all over the country who will #VoteTrump but [down]ballot not so much.” She then tried to walk that back, but it was too late. Meanwhile, Trump’s Virginia campaign chair Corey Stewart organized a protest outside the Republican National Committee headquarters at which one attendee waved a sign reading “Better to Grab a P***y than to Be One.” That was a little much for the Trump campaign, who promptly fired him.
The message is clear: Oppose Trump, and he’ll attempt to burn you to the ground, even if it means handing control of Congress over to the Democrats.
But the message is clear: Oppose Trump, and he’ll attempt to burn you to the ground, even if it means handing control of Congress over to the Democrats. Which, by all indicators, it does. Trump is losing badly. He’s getting blown out in historic fashion according to virtually all the polls (yes, Michael Cohen, all of them). There are those of us who have said all along that a Trump candidacy and attempts to defend it would do serious damage to the Republican party’s prospects for the foreseeable future — but all conservatives and Republicans have agreed that, at the very least, Republicans must maintain control of Congress to check either Hillary or Trump. But Trump is ensuring that his political collapse hands total power over to Hillary. As Robert Costa of the Washington Post reported, “Trump circle gloating. Privately mocking elected Rs who are agonizing. One laughed and said, ‘We don’t care.’”
It’s true. They don’t.
Because they never cared. Not about stopping Hillary. Not about promoting conservatism. Trump himself said months ago he wouldn’t be too upset if Republicans lost the Senate, because then he’d be free to cut deals with Democrats. Trump’s a lifelong Democratic donor — including to Hillary. The great irony of Trump’s candidacy is that his most ardent boosters see Hillary as an existential crisis, but Trump himself doesn’t think she’s that dangerous and never did.
So with Trump going down, why don’t his supporters abandon him to save the resistance to Hillary?
There are two reasons. First, they’ve been told that Trump still has a fighting chance if everyone just pulls their oars. Talk-radio hosts on Monday spent the day lauding Donald Trump for a strong debate performance, ignoring the poll numbers that show Trump in freefall and Congress now up for grabs. “Now that Trump is finally attacking Hillary,” conservative media figures say, “we can finally win this thing. All that’s required is for those stubborn Never Trumpers to jump aboard, and we can still pull it out!”
This is, to put it mildly, patent nonsense. The Trump Hindenburg is already on fire, and adding passengers isn’t going to slow the conflagration. It’s just going to ensure more destruction.
But that’s okay, according to many Trump supporters. That’s because they’ve also been told that congressional Republicans are irrelevant when it comes to stymying Democrats — so the only reason congressional Republicans must be abandoning Trump is out of some sort of bizarre sympathy for the Hillary agenda. For Trump, therefore, the party might as well be burned to the ground. After all, it wasn’t worth much to him anyway.
This is the perspective of key members of the Trump campaign including Steve Bannon, who once told Ronald Radosh, “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” According to Radosh, this included the Republican party and the traditional conservative media. This mentality has bled down to some Republican thought-leaders, who maintain that a Congress run by Paul Ryan is no better than one run by Nancy Pelosi — so if Ryan and Republican representatives supporting Trump increases Trump’s shot of winning by 5 percent but decreases Republicans’ shot of maintaining Congress by 40 percent, that’s a fine tradeoff.
#related#That’s historically ignorant. Republicans in Congress haven’t done enough to stonewall President Obama. But when Democrats ran Congress, they passed Obamacare along simple party lines, blew out the budget, rammed through a massive stimulus package, and approved two wildly leftist Supreme Court justices. Republicans haven’t been a picnic, but they’ve done a hell of a lot better than that.
But none of that matters to Trump. For him, it is and always has always been Trump uber alles; dissent is treason. That’s going to be a problem when Trump beats Republicans into submission just long enough for them to hand over total power to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.