Last night’s debate underscores this truth: The GOP is disintegrating.
When the front-runner for your party uses the national debate stage to discuss the size of his Anthony Weiner, you have a problem.
When that same man affirms that he will order U.S. soldiers to commit the horrifying war crime of deliberately slaughtering the wives, children, and elderly noncombatant relatives of ISIS, you have an even worse problem.
The mind boggles.
On a more prosaic level, it is also true: When a solid conservative like Ted Cruz emerges as the leading opponent to Trump, and the GOP establishment stubbornly refused to coalesce around him, you have both a political and a moral problem. Especially after the GOP’s preferred horse lost not only in Iowa, and not only in New Hampshire, but in South Carolina. Marco Rubio’s innovative 3, 5, 2, 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 1 strategy is right on target. Meanwhile Kasich is living in his own egocentric fantasy land as the Democrats’ favorite Republican. (I give him a D-minus for his answer on religious liberty last night, as I explain here.)
Right now, many conservatives are reacting to the #NeverTrump movement by pointing to the horrors of Hillary Clinton and urging conservatives to avert their eyes from Trump’s constant parade of horribles. Join together as Republicans to beat Horrible Hillary, they say, or lose the Supreme Court for a generation.
There is a lot to be said for that point of view. I am still mulling it all over.
I do not know that I can ever bring myself to vote for a man who boasts about his private parts in public and vows to kill innocent women and children, even if I don’t believe him. (I would have included Trump’s refusal to disavow the KKK, except Trump claims that he did not hear the question properly and that he had disavowed Duke before and clearly did so afterwards repeatedly, including on last night’s stage.)
It may just be as simple as that.
Disgust is not a reason, but it is an emotion that points to something important, something not to be dismissed by utilitarian cost-benefit analyses. But on reflection, underlying my own doubts about this rallying cry is another question I now have: Is the GOP worth saving?
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.