Hoping Donald Trump will change is not a strategy

They say there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Establishment Republicans went through all of them with regard to Donald Trump, and now have come all the way back around to denial.

They’re not in denial that he will be their nominee, like they were last fall and winter. They’re in denial about who he is. They believe, if he is handed immense power, he might turn into a reasonable person.

Here’s a news flash for anyone who is thinking this way: Donald Trump was an impetuous child yesterday, he is one today, and he will be one tomorrow.

Trump’s actions are indeed unpredictable, and he might sometimes do good things if they happen to align with the impulses he is feeling on a given day. But his personality and his temperament are entirely predictable. He’s always been like this, and he’ll continue to be like this if he becomes president.

Yet, hope that Trump will abandon the persona that has defined his decades in public life springs eternal among Serious Republican Officials.

On MSNBC Tuesday morning, Sen. Bob Corker said he couldn’t speak yet to Trump’s fitness for the presidency, because he is waiting to see whether Trump will “pivot” — that is, start behaving like a dignified, non-racist, well-adjusted adult human being.

Hilariously, Corker treated the question of Trump’s fitness for the presidency as a hypothetical, one that would be inappropriate to speak to at this time.

“I mean, I think [what] semi-prudent people do, is they don’t answer questions of conjecture,” Corker said. “Here’s what people, hopefully, say is, look, if we get to a point where it’s seen that the pivot is not capable, that there is really no way that this is going to evolve, ask me the question at that time.”

He said the word “pivot” seven times in the interview. He’s going to keep waiting for that pivot, that evolution. It could come any day now. Please, please, please.

Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, is withholding judgment of Trump because she is waiting to see whether he redeems himself.

“I would be surprised if I campaigned for Donald Trump based on his behaviour and comments thus far but I believe in redemption,” she told Time on Monday. “He is so unpredictable that perhaps tomorrow he will change his style, articulate his vision for America, beyond just saying he wants to make America great again, and come up with a series of plans and policies that I could support.”

The hopes expressed by Corker and Collins are totally unsupported by the data. Trump’s entire track record in public life is about being crass, mercurial, and dishonest. Trump is not going to evolve, and if he does pivot, there’s no reason to be confident he won’t pivot right back to whatever he was doing before.

Trump loves arbitrary exercises of power. Given the power of the presidency, who is to say he won’t become even more unstable and dangerous? Why would anybody assume that handing him massive power would make him more responsible rather than less?

The only defensible thing is to look at this man and say he cannot possibly be made president. Anyone who supports him on the basis that he might change for the better is engaging in pathetic self-deception — and proposing to risk the country’s entire future on a foolish bet.

This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.

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