Following the past week’s allegations of Donald Trump’s sexual assaults on various women throughout the years, including the recent release of a video with remarks made by him in 2005 on the same topic, Republicans across the board began to frantically pull their support or condemn Trump’s disgusting words. Although some view the reaction as a cowardly unity within the Republican party — where Republicans have only just seen the error of their ways and are trying to climb out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves — it clearly shows a divide in the Grand Old Party and where their loyalties lie. While the reaction doesn’t necessarily signal the end of unity within the party, it does show how weak the GOP has become in terms of not only supporting their nominee, but in supporting each other in the decision as well.
Disagreements within a party don’t have to be viewed as a bad development. The split of opinions is good; it shows that not everyone is completely tied to party lines and that they have enough sense to not let the title of their party blind them to a potentially catastrophic nominee. However, what the differing opinions do show is that Republicans failed to initially elect a nominee that they can all stand by. Instead of discrediting Trump in the first place and throwing their full support behind someone with actual political experience, and instead of treating him like the joke that he is, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the house and therefore, the most powerful Republican in the country and the rest of the GOP, have allowed Trump to completely divide their party. At their core, Republicans believe in the betterment and survival of the state and about what will most benefit the continued presence of their policies in the political arena. To put it bluntly, they’ve screwed themselves over by supporting Trump.
Ryan faces a critical weighing of options that is, to a lesser extent, echoed in the minds of the other members of his party. Do they favor personal political ideologies that say supporting Trump now will damage their potential for a successful future political career or do they suck it up and vote for the man who they’ve somehow got leading their party so that the GOP doesn’t get torn in half? It’s a personal versus community decision, which is why Ryan has teetered so much and for so long on this decision. He’s done a significant amount of damage to himself already; even if he were to fully withdraw his support of Trump at this point with less than a month until the election, it would look like he was jumping ship as soon as he was 100 percent sure that the boat was going under. It makes him look spineless and indecisive, as if he can’t practice what he preaches in denouncing every one of Trump’s statements, yet not moving from his side. He can’t win his internal battle of morality versus duty and the transparency of his struggle makes the entire affair all the more embarrassing to watch.
The situation becomes even more muddied because of the kinds of people that are backing each side. Many Republican senators have pulled their support, along with high-ranking Republican leaders as well, and yet the vast majority of those still in the Trump camp are lower-level senators and representatives that just will not budge. The lower-level majority of the party wants to stick to their nominee, so it’s now become a struggle between a minority of major power versus a majority of minor power. Also, those with high standing have the brand names to support them; none of the living former presidents formally support him, George P. Bush being the only outstanding member of the entire Bush family who says that he will cast his support for Trump. Prominent Republicans like Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the house oversight committee, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Arizona Senator John McCain and Governor of Ohio and former presidential nominee John Kasich have all pulled their support for Trump at various points during the election cycle, denouncing him and his campaign as one that, as Kasich stated, “has behaved in a manner that reflects so poorly on our country.”
The current political climate surrounding the GOP is a breakdown where they have made the mess themselves, but by the same token can be seen as a sort of banding together because many of them realize that it was a massive mistake and are trying to correct it by reprimanding Trump for his disgusting words. Nonetheless, the arrow points at a breakdown within the party, for Trump’s sexually aggressive words that were revealed have just become the tipping point for many Republicans, causing them to turn tail and salvage what remains of their respectable careers, a majorly divisive problem in and of itself.
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