Evan Siegfried is a Republican strategist and commentator. His new book, “GOP GPS: How to Find the Millennials and Urban Voters the Republican Party Needs to Survive,” is available for purchase on Amazon.
The Republican Party is officially broken for all to see. The revelation of Donald Trump’s lewd and immoral comments about women has shaken his campaign to its core. The unguarded comments are so devastating that it is next to impossible for Trump to recover from them.
Now, an ever-growing list of Republicans are abandoning Trump and calling on him to drop out of the presidential race. They see the toxicity that Trump has brought upon them and they are now doing what they must to survive.
But they all know that a larger question looms: How will the Republican Party survive?
The GOP has been at a crossroads since before Trump announced his disaster of a presidential campaign. Our varying factions were fractured and no member of the party could cobble together a working coalition of Tea Party conservatives, neoconservatives, social conservatives, economic conservatives and more.
Enter Trump, who exploited this division while appealing to those who felt left behind by our leaders and a world that was changing in a way that did not help them. He falsely promised them a restored glory that he could not deliver and all he asked for in return was their unyielding loyalty.
It was a mirage.
While Trump’s loyal aides and surrogates take to social media and television to say that Trump has grown up and is no longer the man who disrespects women in the video we saw from 11 years ago — forget the fact that this “adult” Trump just spent all of last week fat- and slut-shaming a former Miss Universe while insinuating that she had a criminal past — the rest of the Republican Party is figuring out just how to move forward, not only between now and Election Day, but after.
Like many of his endeavours, Trump’s campaign promised the moon and now has gone bust. This latest very public bankruptcy and failure of Trump’s has once again left others to be the one’s to clean up his mess. Not only are his supporters victims of an elaborate and unfeasible con job, but the Republican Party itself will suffer the taint of Trump for years to come.
GOP leaders are wise to distance themselves from Trump. Who can support such an unprincipled and depraved man that is seeking the highest office in the land? Democrats are already building archives and records of Republicans praising Trump, a list that will include many now trying to inoculate themselves from him. They will not only be used against them over the last month of this election, but for countless election cycles to come.
Those leaders and officials in the Republican Party who remain by Trump’s side from this point are revealing the true content of their character and their real values. Some do so because they are blinded by their justifiable dislike for Hillary Clinton, whose own behaviour and conduct are deplorable.
Others do so because they willingly have joined the cult of Trump. For them, he is their path to power and means of staying relevant. The former can be forgiven, but the latter spewing the virtues of Trump should not be charged with forging the destiny and future of the GOP.
It is now vital for the survival of the Republican Party that we turn a corner and embrace a modern and forward-thinking attitude. We must not only condemn Trump’s misogyny, but prove to the American people that conservative policies can make us the party that truly champions women.
We must not only reject Trump’s words and actions that have insulted every key demographic across the United States (save the white nationalists that Trump has empowered), but also show how conservatism offers them the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity.
As we do this, we must also have a conversation about how the GOP can move forward and forge a broad coalition for the 21st century. Who will lead this coalition is anybody’s guess, but we are blessed with leaders such as Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Charlie Baker, Larry Hogan, George P. Bush, Elise Stefanik, Adam Kinzinger, Evan McMullin, Mia Love, Jason Chaffetz, Will Hurd, and more. All are figures that we can begin to unite behind as we move away from the damage that Trump has wrought.
The Republican Party’s future is only a bright one if we have the courage to walk away from Trump now and not become his latest victims.
This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.
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