The Republican National Convention turned into a successful Trumpfest after all. This had been in doubt for many reasons. So many invited speakers had declined to accept, so many establishment types had attached significant disclaimers to their support, failed to endorse him at all, or had even spoken out against him. And then there was always the possibility that the pledged delegates would mutiny and attempt to throw him out.
There are many reasons Trump has been snubbed by his fellow Republicans. Some clearly reject him because they see him as a buffoon, certain to lose and drag down the rest of the ticket. Still others profess high-mindedness and argue that Trump doesn’t measure up to their standards. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he can’t support Trump because of “Some of the things he said about women and about Muslims and about religious freedom….” LINK
Others see Trump as a loose cannon, as a danger to foreign diplomacy and national security. They have rejected him by professing that their love of country is greater than their allegiance to their party. Rep. Scott Riggel (R-VA): wrote that, “My love of our country eclipse (sic) my loyalty to our party, and I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgment, temperament and character needed to be our commander-in-chief. LINK
Trump has engendered a level of animosity so strong that many Republicans have even chosen not to attend the nominating convention. Even Sarah Palin who was one of the first to endorse him, ultimately chose to stay away, because she said that Cincinnati was too far away. LINK
There is a long list of establishment Republicans who have refused to endorse Trump.
(SEE NOTE 1, below)
And when you look at the list of speakers who did speak at the RNC, most can be categorized as either:
1) newcomers seeking the national stage,
2) also-rans struggling for political relevance or
3) party leaders who more or less had to show up.
(SEE NOTE 2 below)
So there remains a shadow of doubt about how many of them were actually bona fide endorsers and how many just showed up for their own reasons. As a group they give the appearance of people simply falling in line.
Contrast this list with the list of pols who have refused to endorse. Rather than falling in line, the non-endorsers have chosen to stand apart. The non-endorsers most often share a stated sentiment: that in nominating Trump, their party has gone too far.
Even before the rise of Trump, moderate Republicans had started to become an endangered species. Over the last ten years or so, there has been a growing sense that the Republican party had become too extreme, that they had moved too far to the right, gone too far in their support of deregulation and big corporate donors and too far towards intolerance and xenophobia.
For moderates there was a growing sense that the party had left them behind. And many have changed their party affiliation or chosen to leave politics entirely. And this trend has dramatically increased since it became clear that Trump would be the nominee. LINK
And many who remain loyal, seem less interested in governing for the good of the average citizen than in their own political survival and their party’s cling to power. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who spoke at the convention shares the predispositions of this latter group in putting his party ahead of the country. As Senate Majority leader, his stated goal was to make Obama a one term president by blocking and discrediting him at every turn. LINK
McConnell led the “party of No” in resisting useful reforms that could have helped many ordinary citizens during one of America’s worst economic downturns. As leader of the naysayers he thought that discrediting Obama would return his party to power and allow them to ultimately retake the presidency. LINK
And while many would-be voters did end up blaming Obama for the lack of progress in Washington, he nevertheless sailed to victory for a second term. Even so, McConnell stayed the course and has attempted to block Obama at every turn. Ask Mitch McConnell, what’s more important, the country or his party. If he says it’s the country, it’s only because he’s a good liar and can rely on most people’s deficit attention span.
In an earlier article, I stated that the reason why many Republicans had distanced themselves from Trump was because they feared that his plain-spokenness would expose the true nature of their party platform. That with Trump, it would become less of a secret that the party had veered to the right and could no longer hide its tendencies toward racism, xenophobia and misogyny. LINK
The party had been steadily mutating in this direction for many years. In the process, the question of party versus country has become almost moot. For in the mind of a true believer, the cause and outcome are inseparable, there can be no middle ground and no other way forward. Simply stated, only the Republican party can do what’s best for the country.
So it is only natural that ultimately most Republicans would rally around Trump. The alternative is unthinkable. In the mindset of the true believer, the party leads the country and not the other way around. The good of the party is the good of the country. This is a real lock-step moment. And all that was needed was a focal point and in some ways if could have been anyone. Trump may have not been their first choice, but they can live with that. They will make it work. He will just have to do.
Rep. Scott Riggel (R-VA):
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA)
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL)
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Gov. Bruce Rauner (R=IL)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Rep. Scott Riggel (R-VA)
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI)
Rep. Mark Hanna (R-NY)
Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney
Former Florida Gov.: Jeb Bush
Former president: George H.W. Bush
Former president: George W. Bush
1) New Comers (in office less than a full term)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AK)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WS)
2) Struggling for relevance
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) (former Presidential Candidate)
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WS) (former Presidential Candidate)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (former Presidential Candidate)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (former Presidential Candidate)
Rudy Giuliani (former Presidential Candidate)
Newt Gingrich (former Presidential Candidate)
Jerry Falwell Jr.
3) Ceremonial (had to speak)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Senate majority leader)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WS) (speaker of the United States House of Representatives)
Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) (Republican vice-presidential nominee)
Reince Priebus (chairman of the Republican National Committee)
Doesn’t seem to fit the other categories
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (in office since 1997)