- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Republican Party is splintering apart, with no clear course of mending, after a lewd audiotape of its presidential nominee Donald Trump was dropped.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has all but rescinded his endorsement of the businessman, while Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday of Mr. Ryan’s decision, “If you’re saying bad things about your candidate, then you may as well be on the other side.”

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, continues to rally around flawed and corrupt Hillary Clinton, even as more WikiLeaks emails are dropped confirming her cozy relationship with Wall Street banks, call for open borders and admission she has a public and private self.

There’s a stark difference when it comes to the two political parties: Republicans flee when the going gets tough, whereas Democrats hunker down and fight.

It’s of course, a bit easier for Democrats, given they also rule the mainstream media. They can bury unflattering stories about Mrs. Clinton and promote those about Mr. Trump. A Media Research Center study found the nightly networks dedicated 103 minutes to Mr. Trump’s tape scandal and only 8 minutes to Mrs. Clinton’s paid speeches.

Still, fractions of the GOP this election cycle are refusing to gather together under the big tent — something the party needs to do in order to win the presidency, no matter how much they dislike their nominee.

Mr. Trump’s leaked audiotape was gross, and there’s no doubt many of his own supporters are disgusted by it. But they’re more upset about Washington, D.C., and how it works — about establishment Republicans who were feckless in stopping President Barack Obama’s agenda for eight years and sat by and idly watched the country move left.

Mr. Trump’s supporters want change — they want an outsider who is best able to rough up and reform the status quo because he has no stake in it. He’s not beholden to the donor class or corporate lobbyists, or worried about what his next job will be.

Mr. Trump isn’t himself a movement — he’s the vessel in which 13 million Republicans chose to protest politics as usual — the most ever that have turned out for a GOP primary.

Yet, there’s a fraction of the GOP that doesn’t understand this (or willingly ignore it) and instead would like to identify his voters as bigots and racists. It’s easier to discard them come future elections if they’re labeled detestable.

“The GOP certainly needs principled, forward leading candidates. But what it needs is a new constituency,” wrote Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist at The Washington Post. “The Fox TV audience/the talk show addicts/the birthers are incapable of sustaining viable candidates. … The crass, vulgar, angry and irrational mob that thrills when Trump acts like a madman is not a base around which a successful national party can be built. Know-nothingism, xenophobia and misogyny are enough to garner the GOP nomination, which explains why the GOP is unable to field a winning candidate.”

Yet, the plurality of Republicans who turned out for Mr. Trump certainly all weren’t “know-nothings.” A majority of the GOP, if you include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, cast their ballot in an outsider, protest vote. Deep introspection needs to be done by these party elites to understand why the base left them. Blaming the base isn’t good enough.

As James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal wrote, “How can a party function, or even survive, if its leaders are at odds with its voters?”

More than three-quarters of Republicans want the party to continue to support Mr. Trump even in the wake of his leaked tape, compared to only 13 percent who say he should drop out of the race, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Tuesday.

Republican voters know, at this point, Mr. Trump is their only choice, for all the good, the bad and the ugly. For many, maintaining a conservative Supreme Court is crucial. For others it more simplistic: That the progressive left is ruining America’s culture and values, there needs to be a return to law and order, putting American first, and four more years under a Clinton regime is unacceptable.

Democrats seem to get that the opposite is true. They’re not excited about Mrs. Clinton, they’ve nominated the most flawed candidate in their party’s history. But they’re willing to look past her scandals, her FBI investigation, her cronyism, her ultimate unfitness for office, because they have their eye on the bigger prize: Political domination.

If Democrats win in 2016, the courts will be pushed more to the left, executive rule will become more common, dependency on the government will increase, and open borders will reign. The demographics in the U.S. will shift so dramatically, they’ll never lose another election.

And for many Republicans, their spirit will be crushed. They may never turn out for a GOP election, or support the Republican National Committee, again.

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