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Republicans Need to Reject, Not Just Denounce, Donald Trump

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Frank Sharry: “Remaining Open to Supporting Trump as the GOP Nominee Makes Republican Condemnations of Him Ring Hollow” 

Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from being admitted into the United States is merely the latest in a series of sweeping nativist sentiments that have defined his candidacy and sought to mainstream a vision of America pulled from the fringes of the white nationalist movement.  While numerous Republicans have joined the chorus of voices condemning Trump’s remarks and worldview, few in the GOP have been willing to take the needed next step: rejecting the notion of Trump as the Republican Party’s standard bearer and publicly pledging to not support Trump as the GOP’s nominee.

Among the key voices calling for Republicans to fully reject Trump’s candidacy:

Washington PostEditorial, “It’s Time For Republicans To Renounce Donald Trump’s Candidacy: The Post editorializes, “It is heartening that Mr. Trump’s opponents are finally condemning him in terms they would generally reserve for Democrats, but it also raises a critical question: If the GOP front-runner’s pronouncements are as lunatic and offensive as his rivals say — and they are — isn’t it incumbent on them to make clear they would oppose him if he were the party’s nominee? … Until now, party leaders and primary rivals have mostly dodged this question by dismissing Mr. Trump’s chances of winning the nomination. That’s no longer viable. Having stood atop the field in the polls for months, and lately having widened his considerable lead, Mr. Trump and his candidacy can no longer be laughed off as a publicity stunt. For responsible Republicans, the season of denial must end … Criticizing Mr. Trump is no longer sufficient. It is time to say clearly he is anathema to the Republican Party, and to the nation.”

Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “Donald Trump Has Crossed An Uncrossable Line Of Bigotry: In her new column, Marcus writes, “It is happening here. With his call for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’ Donald Trump has crossed an uncrossable line of bigotry and xenophobia. The Republican front-runner presents a clearer, more present danger to U.S. interests than the supposedly threatening Muslims he seeks to exclude. He is a one-man recruiting tool for the Islamic State … And nothing in my experience of U.S. politics has been so sickening, has made me so embarrassed for my country. Who could have imagined that any supposedly mainstream political candidate — no less the front-runner of a major political party — would propose anything so extreme? … All Republican lawmakers, party officials and candidates must immediately renounce Trump and assert that they will not support this demagogue at the top of the ticket. Failing to do so implicitly associates them with Trump’s bigotry.”

Unfortunately, every single fellow Republican presidential contender has refused to go beyond verbal criticism of Trump, with Senator Ted Cruz refusing to even to go that far.  Though Speaker of the House Paul Ryancondemned Trump’s comments, he said, “I’m going to support whoever the Republican nominee is.”  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s remarks “completely and totally inconsistent with American values,” but followed that up by saying, “I’m certainly going to support the Republican nominee for president.” Other Senators’ refusal to rule out supporting Trump as the nominee took on comically evasive turns.  According to Huffington Post, “Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) talked at length about the ‘very negative reaction’ she had to Trump’s remarks and how it sends the wrong message to Islamic nations allied with the United States. But she didn’t want to talk about what would happen if he becomes the GOP nominee. ‘I’ve got to go now,’ she told The Huffington Post.” Per an Associated Press account, “New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayottesaid she opposes any ‘religious-based test for our immigration standards,’ but she declined to criticize Trump directly when pressed by reporters.”  And Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said “I intend to support the Republican nominee … I think my further comment was ‘unless something crazy happens,’ and that’s continuously my position” (um, newsflash, Senator, but what Mr. Trump is proposing should fit any textbook definition of ‘crazy’).

In fact, among national Republican elected officials and candidates, Rep. David Jolly, a Republican from Florida who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio, seems to be the only voice taking the condemnation to a logical and important conclusion.  Rep. Jolly said on the House floor yesterday that Trump should withdraw from the presidential race, stating, “It is time that my side of the aisle has one less candidate in the race for the White House. It is time for Donald Trump to withdraw from the race,” explaining his call by saying, “I’m a born-again Christian. I believe in the saving grace of the Jesus Christ that I call my God. And the beautiful thing about this country is I can stand here on the House floor among my peers and in front of the nation and declare that faith without fear of any reprisal…But if Donald Trump has his way, we may not have the liberty to do that anymore.” In addition, Tom Ridge, the first homeland security secretary, said yesterday there is “no chance” he’d vote for Trump, adding, “I think he’s an embarrassment to the party, I think he’s an embarrassment to the country.  I’ve never thought loud, obnoxious, simple solutions to complex problems were the kind of qualities we want in a president.”  Others who have said they would not support Trump should he win the nomination include Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, conservative radio talk show host Michael Medved and controversial conservative Glenn Beck.

If the GOP continues on its present path, with Trump as the frontrunner, Ryan Call, former Colorado Republican Party Chairman, captured what’s at stake for the Republican Party.  In comments to Politico, Call said: “The more time that passes, and especially if he maintains his lead in the polls and heaven forbid becomes our Party’s presidential nominee, there will be no way to effectively separate Trump’s irresponsible demagoguery from the brand and identity of the GOP as a whole. Donald Trump will become the face of the Republican Party … If Donald Trump becomes our Party’s nominee for President, not only will have a devastating effect on down-ticket races for Congress and the state legislature throughout the country in 2016, it will taint the brand, party platform and perception of the GOP among Hispanics, young people, women, and other religious and ethnic minorities for years to come.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “This is a moment of truth, not just for Republicans as a party but for the United States as a nation.  Trump’s vile and bigoted rhetoric and proposal endangers our core values and endangers our national security.  It is no longer good enough to denounce his proposal.  As a nation we have to stand up and reject Trump as a candidate for the highest office in the land.  The only people capable of making this happen right now are Republicans.  The nation and the world look to you to do what’s needed to keep him from sullying our standing and trashing our principles.  Remaining open to supporting Trump as the GOP nominee makes Republican condemnations of him ring hollow.”