We’ve all seen it happen. The slow crumbling of a marriage between two people that we care about. It’s painful to watch. Two people who pledged to make a go of it together stumble through a slow arduous break up.
Among the stages of any break up is denial. It’s not uncommon that a couple stays together after their obvious expiration date. Despite infidelities or repeated episodes of abuse, one or both partners still long for long lost days of love and romance.
In the most extreme cases where one spouse repeatedly inflicts physical or emotional pain on the other, an outsider often wonders why the latter stays. Psychologists say it usually takes seven episodes of abuse before the victim finally has the strength to walk away. Prior to that the perpetrator’s apologies and his or her promises to do better tug at the heartstrings and mess with the logical thinking of the afflicted.
The logical thing would be for the two to graciously go their separate ways. No nasty fights. No threats. No public declarations of fault. Instead, simply end the abuse. End the hope against hope. If there are children involved in the relationship, the responsible thing is for both parties even after they’re separated, to do all they can to benefit the children and to refrain from saying a bad word about each other.
So it is with the marriage between the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump. To the objective outsider, it is clearly time for a gracious break up, but some within the GOP still cling to the love they once felt.
At one time, this political marriage certainly had plenty to love. President Trump successfully appointed 234 candidates to the federal judiciary with the approval of the Senate, including three U.S. Supreme Court justices. The president was the most pro-life president in a generation, maybe even ever. He successfully turned a lackluster Obama economy around to enjoy robust growth and strong consumer confidence. Trump policies led to the lowest unemployment rates in history for Black, Hispanic and female Americans. As a result of his economic success, the stock market roared to all-time high after all-time high.
Much like a husband who is a good financial provider for his family but has an explosive anger streak that bursts through every now and again however, President Trump brought with him a dark side. After Mr. Trump’s first secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, resigned, Mr. Trump relentlessly taunted the former Exxon CEO with insults calling him “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.” Mr. Trump’s anger with his first attorney general and former Sen. Jeff Sessions was legendary. Mr. Trump trashed House Speaker Paul Ryan after Mr. Ryan departed Washington, which was particularly absurd because Mr. Ryan, even if you disagree with his politics, always conducted himself as a complete gentleman. The list doesn’t end there either.
Retired military generals John Kelly and James Mattis both went to work in the Trump administration only to be rewarded with shameful public insults from the commander in chief. Even Republican Sen. leader Mitch McConnell, the architect of Mr. Trump’s success with federal judge appointments, wasn’t spared. Mr. Trump called him “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.”
The abuser simply couldn’t help himself.
Let’s look at another problem for Mr. Trump: priorities. Contrary to the left’s narrative, Mr. Trump neither organized nor suggested the disgraceful mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. He did nothing impeachable. He did, however, show an amazing lack of understanding of the serious nature of the incident. The Capitol building was first breached Jan. 6 at approximately 2 pm. At 2:39, Mr. Trump tweeted that people should stay peaceful. At 3:19, his Twitter account read as follows, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” He noticeably did not ask those who had broken into the Capitol to leave.
In fact, it wasn’t until 4:17 that via Twitter Mr. Trump told his followers to go home. Even this was a soft-pedaled message. “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace.”
Two hours and 17 minutes after the people’s house was overrun, Mr. Trump asked people to go home, while making it about himself in the process.
Contrast that with Mr. Trump’s response to golf great Tiger Woods’ Feb. 23 car crash in California. Nine minutes after the national news agencies reported Tiger’s situation, Mr. Trump was sending out an official message. Nine minutes. The world admires Tiger Woods, but why did it take Mr. Trump 15 times as long to respond to a national crisis?
There is no question that Mr. Trump has captured the hearts of a meaningful chunk of the GOP. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past week, The Washington Times straw poll of attendees found that President Trump remains a clear favorite. Fifty-five percent said they would vote for him if the 2024 GOP primary were today. Mr. Trump’s approval rating in the straw poll was 97%. Sixty-eight percent of CPAC attendees said Mr. Trump should run for president again.
No he shouldn’t.
After the 2016 election, the Democrats had the good sense to move on from Hillary Clinton. She had a core following but she also split her party and drew absolute hatred from majorities outside her party. It was time for change.
Likewise, 60% of Biden voters that spoke with Edison Research for the National Election Pool in 2020 exit polling said they cast their vote for Joe Biden not because they particularly supported him, but instead as a vote against Donald Trump. Sixty percent!
In the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election, no one in the Republican Party dared utter a single negative word about the vanquished president for fear it might spark his wrath. Two Senate seats were still up for grabs in Georgia and with them, control of the Senate. The fear that an angry and spiteful Donald Trump would intentionally sabotage the Georgia races was palpable. Part of the GOP loved him. Part of it feared him.
The battered spouse, this time the GOP, still doesn’t dare to walk away. What if Mr. Trump interferes in the 2022 congressional elections? What if Mr. Trump, despite promises not to, forms a third party, effectively dooming any chance the Republicans have of taking the White House in 2024? Fear of Mr. Trump and what he might do is driving their agenda.
The Republican Party needs to sit down with a therapist and take an inventory of where the relationship is. It’s time to try a cordial break up. Tell Trump it is time to go separate ways. If he will help with the kids, or in this case the 2022 congressional elections, that would be great, but in the meantime the party needs to move on. There are plenty of young, dynamic potential suitors for a 2024 wedding, including Sen. Ted Cruz, former Speaker Ryan and former Ambassador Nikki Haley. The party needs to start dating again.
Trump loyalists are likely to be infuriated at this suggestion, but they need to ask themselves, is the conservative movement about driving the country in a better direction or is it about one man? Mr. Trump certainly had his victories and we should recognize and celebrate those. But his brash offensive manner and decided lack of loyalty to those around him have led to irreconcilable differences.
If Donald Trump truly meant what he said at CPAC, he shouldn’t have started bad-mouthing a long list of sitting members of Congress less than two minutes after calling for a united Republican Party. If he wants to be remembered as a statesman and a great contributor to the cause, Mr. Trump needs to immediately rule himself out from the 2024 presidential race and volunteer to be a team player in the effort to recapture control of the House of Representatives in 2022. Anything less just perpetuates the marriage we all know is destined to fail.
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