In a couple of weeks the Republican Party will officially take ownership of Donald Trump and his baggage. There won’t be any more talk about the “presumptive nominee,” and there won’t be an uprising at the convention in Cleveland to replace him. They — and every other candidate running on the (R) on the ballot — will own him.
Not that I really care all that much about the feelings of some schmuck running for Congress and taking orders from the state or local GOP contingent, it must be tough for some of them to get out there at some picnic or parade and know that they’re running for office as a candidate whose national leader finds a way to justify running an anti-Semitic tweet or calls an American-born judge a Mexican because his parents were from there, or labels other Mexicans as rapists and drug-runners. Mr. Trump wears his bigotry on his sleeve… and his hat.
When Bill Clinton got in trouble for having sex with that woman, a lot of Democrats had to explain why they still supported a man whose morals were not stellar, even though his accusers had the same problem with getting a little on the side. But as Paul Waldman notes, the difference between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump is that Bill Clinton was not advocating adultery as a national policy or trying to get other candidates elected on a platform of extramarital sex.
Donald Trump isn’t hoping that he can keep his bigotry a secret; he’s running on it and promising to enshrine it in federal government policy. He may not be responsible for all the things his fans say, and you might even excuse him for passing on some of their hate by mistake. What he is responsible for is all the reasons those people became his fans in the first place. It isn’t because of economic anxiety, or because he’s an outsider, or because he tells it like it is. It’s because Donald Trump appeals directly to the worst in us, and the worst of us.
And every Republican who stands with him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them or how much they wish he would change, will have that stench on them for a long time to come.
We’ve seen a number of Republicans try to repudiate Mr. Trump or even leave their party over him. They expect to be applauded for that, I suppose, but the fact is that it was many of those same party members who laid the groundwork for what’s going to happen in Cleveland, and no amount of wishing and hoping and hand-washing will remove him. Long after Mr. Trump is off on his next get-rich-quick scam, they’ll still stink of him.