Donald Trump‘s steep descent into megalomania, spewing racist bile, word salad nonsense and worse as he augers in, should come as a surprise to no one.
You do not have to be a seer to have seen that the Trump barely hidden behind the irrational, bullying buffoon of the Republican primary campaign was likely to be even more crude, more ignorant, more outrageous, and more dangerous once freed of the restraints of intraparty competition, the kind of man who attacks a female, Hispanic, Republican governor in her home state because she has not endorsed him and repeatedly slanders a Federal judge because he is of Mexican heritage although Indiana-born.
Yet the vast majority of leaders in the Republican Party are willing to bend a knee to Trump despite the fact that no sane man or woman with any meaningful experience in public office and enough sense to come in out the rain can believe that he is minimally qualified to be President of the United States.
And no conservative worthy of the name can feel the slightest kinship with Trump and what he purports to believe, or harbor a spark of optimism about his future intellectual growth given the fact that he is a self-absorbed 69-year-old man under no compulsion to learn and with no apparent inclination to do so.
How can this wholesale surrender be explained?
The only explanations are partisan myopia aggravated by Hillary hatred, craven self-interest, and an unwarranted and discreditable obeisance to the madding crowd. This is certainly no time for partisan myopia, for putting party before country; merely winning this election is not more important than protecting the commonweal from Trump and all the ugliness and ignorance he represents.
As for Hillary hatred, however much she may be the bete noire of conservatives, she is still within the pale of American politics, no more louche than LBJ or her husband and no more liberal than Obama; the country will survive another four years of more of the same, just as, from a liberal perspective, it survived 20 years of Reagan and the Bushes.
There is no cure for craven. Sycophants are unprincipled cowards. They are always despicable, and never more so than now, when courage is in such short supply.
All that can be done is to remember the Chris Christies at both the national and local level and to cast them into outer darkness with all the contempt they deserve once this crisis is past.
Docilely following the path taken by voters when they are wrong is an abdication of responsibility, the antithesis of leadership. Voting is not alchemy; it does not magically transform error into wisdom.
And voting for the wrong man does not make him right; it makes you wrong.
As the conservative icon Edmund Burke famously said in a speech to his constituents, his unbiased opinions, mature judgment, and enlightened conscience were gifts from God, for the abuse of which he was deeply answerable, and should not be sacrificed willy-nilly to their transitory passions.
So I say to the faint of heart hiding behind the skirts of their constituents, be a Burke.
Man up, for God’s sake.
The Republican Party has always claimed to be the party of accountability. Let it be so. Let those who step forward now and resist the toxin that is Trump be the inheritors of Republican leadership. Let the rest be held accountable in November, in 2018, in 2020, and beyond in proportion to where they fall on the Trump spectrum of shame that runs from acquiescence to advocacy.
Never Trump. And never forget.
John “Mac” Stipanovich is a Republican lawyer and lobbyist who served as Gov. Bob Martinez’s chief of staff.