Hey, um, Republicans? Can we talk for a minute? Have a seat. Can I get you anything to drink?
No, really. I think you’re going to need something strong.
See, I have some bad news for you. It’s never easy being the bearer of bad tidings, but … well, there’s no way to break it to you gently, so I’m just going to come right out and say it.
This guy you nominated to run for president on the Republican ticket? I’ve been watching what’s been going on and, well … I don’t think you actually nominated a Republican.
I know, I know, it’s hard to believe. I mean, there’s this whole primary process, and all this “vetting” and stuff, so you’d think the end result would actually be someone who believes in the things Republicans are supposed to believe in.
Take, for instance, respect for our troops and for their families. I thought Republicans were supposed to be all about that.
But this Trump guy? He tells reporters he doesn’t respect John McCain’s service in Vietnam: “He’s not a war hero because he was captured. I don’t like people who were captured.”
I’m sure our servicemen and women will feel safer and more secure knowing that the man who wants to be their commander-in-chief will stop “liking” them if they have the bad luck to be taken prisoner.
Then he claimed he’s always “felt like” he was in the military because he went to an expensive military-themed prep school.
Recently, he decided to get into an extended Twitter rant against the parents of a Muslim soldier who sacrificed himself to save his comrades, even questioning whether the grieving mother was “allowed” to speak.
Then, when another mother of a serviceman asked Trump’s veep pick, Mike Pence, how the guy at the top of the ticket could be so disrespectful, the crowd literally booed her. Dissing Gold Star mothers and booing moms of living servicemen doesn’t sound very Republican, does it?
Then there’s his refusal to endorse other Republican candidates. I’m old enough to remember Saint Ronnie Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”
This rule has, in the immortal words of Mark Twain, been thrown down and danced upon by Donald J. Trump. Not just in the primaries, where you can expect a little back and forth, although Trump’s crude and childish disrespect for the members of his alleged party was extraordinary even by the standards of a contested primary battle.
Even after securing the nomination, however, Trump continues to slam other Republicans. He’s called New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte “weak” and “disloyal” and refused to endorse her in her own bid for re-election. He also refused to endorse McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan in their contested elections. Work across the aisle? This guy doesn’t even play well with people in his own party — or in what’s supposed to be his party.
Last but not least, there’s the whole small government thing. I thought Republicans were supposed to be all about decentralization of power. Yet they’ve nominated a man whose promise to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants would require the greatest mobilization of government power and the greatest suspension of civil liberties in our history. They’ve nominated a man who wants all power centered in himself, because, in his words, “he alone” can fix the broken system.
So that’s the bad news. You guys selected someone who not only doesn’t represent what your party’s supposed to, he’s actively driving out longtime members like former Jeb Bush staffer Sally Bradshaw, who’s worked for Republicans since the days of Bush the Elder and who told CNN that she’s leaving the party and, if the election is close in her home state of Florida, will vote for Clinton.
“As much as I don’t want another four years of Obama’s policies,” she told the network, “I can't look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for Donald Trump.” Rep. Richard Hanna of New York became the first, and probably not the last, elected Republican lawmaker to announce that he’ll vote for Clinton over Trump.
Of course, there’s always the alternative explanation. That is that Trump is actually the perfect Republican, and that the party is what its detractors have always said it is: mean-spirited, bigoted, racist, xenophobic and authoritarian rather than truly conservative and freedom-loving. That they have no actual principles, just resentments, grudges, and fears. Surely that can’t be right. Can it?