For purposes of this blog, we are assuming that most RINOs are among the growing number of Republicans who find the nomination, or worse yet the election, of Donald Trump to be categorically unacceptable. There are, of course, many others in the #NeverTrump movement and our comments are for them as well.
We have sometimes disagreed with George Will, most recently for what we saw as his unfortunate support of Brexit. Nevertheless, we have long admired his intellect, integrity and lively prose. And it doesn’t hurt that he is a Chicago Cubs fan. (See Blog No. 37 “Of George Will, the Chicago Cubs and RINOs.” Thus, we were saddened last week by Will’s disclosure that, in light of the almost certain nomination of Donald Trump, he had ended his registration as a Republican. The Republican Party, in its confused and embattled condition can ill-afford the loss of someone of Will’s stature and judgment.
We share without reservation the unmitigated disdain, indeed contempt, that Will’s held for Trump. For example:
The pornographic politics of Trump’s presidential campaign, which was preceded by decades of ignorant bile (about Barack Obama’s birth certificate and much else), have not exhausted Trump’s eagerness to plumb new depths of destructiveness.
Nevertheless, we disagreed with Will’s attack on Paul Ryan for yielding the tepid endorsement that Trump had wrung from him. We believed, contrary to Will, that Ryan’s denial of an endorsement would not have been effective in stopping Trump, and would have served no useful purpose. At the same time, it would have endangered Ryan’s tenure as Speaker, a position in which he will be badly needed, no matter whether the president is Trump or Clinton. Will, of course, is not Speaker and holds no position in the government or the party and his decision may well have been the correct one for him. But would it be for the rest of us?
A June 24 op-ed by Hank Paulson, Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush, suggested a different route. Writing in the Washington Post, Paulson described in detailed and scathing terms, why the election of Trump would be “unthinkable.” Unlike Will, however, Paulson did not propose to leave the Republican Party, but suggested an alternative:
As a Republican looking ahead to November, there are many strong conservative leaders in statehouses across the United States and in Congress, whose candidacies I am actively supporting. They have a big job to do to reinvent and revitalize the Republican Party. They can do so by responding to the fears and frustrations of the American people and uniting them behind some common aspirations, while staying constant to the principles that have made our country great.
When it comes to the presidency, I will not vote for Donald Trump. I will not cast a write-in vote. I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton, with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world. To my Republican friends: I know I’m not alone.
For our part we think Paulson’s approach makes sense, although we are not yet quite ready to endorse Hillary Clinton—why not wait for the conventions and also see whether the Johnson-Weld ticket gathers enough momentum to be seriously considered? Still, it appears likely that an endorsement of Hillary is where we will end up. But we will remain Republicans in hopes of adding our own small voice to the task of “reinventing and revitalizing” the Republican Party after November.
That plan, of course, assumes that Trump will suffer the humiliating defeat that he will have fully earned. On the other hand, if Trump should be elected, we would see no basis for remaining in the party and would quickly join Will in the ranks of the unaffiliated. At the same time, we would have to decide what to do about RINOcracy.com. Would we continue with the same name, adopt a new name or simply go out of business? If we should be confronted with that unhappy decision, we would be inclined to seek the advice of our subscribers (but in light of the recent disaster in the UK, we will not call it a referendum.)