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Trumpism is political Ebola- spread by casual contact and not easily cured

Donald Trump has, when he has found it convenient, grown an entirely new set of allegedly conservative convictions over the course of the past year.

Let that last part sink in. His conversion from pro-choice to pro-life, from pro-amnesty to wall building, from starry-eyed admirer of Hillary Clinton to her despiser, from advocate of a single-payer government-sponsored health care system to a private enterprise-oriented "real and replace" of Obamacare, from holding up a radical left-wing sister as his ideal of a judge to issuing a list of astoundingly good potential nominees for the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia all in the past twelve months or less.

And there are two additional problems with Don the Con (which once again does NOT stand for "conservative!"). The first is that he is a pathological narcissist and liar, and cannot be trusted to actually do any of those things if elected, but certainly can be trusted to do whatever increases and maintains his own personal power.

The other is that he's still a protectionist, an isolationist, and an unapologetic serial adulterer and religious hypocrite (other aspects of his habitual dishonesty aside) which makes the conservative argument for personal responsibility and ethical behavior into a travesty. He insults and demeans women. Although he denies being a racist, he keeps saying undeniably racist things. He threatens the people who oppose him with the retaliatory abuse of his powers as president. He openly advocates violence against those who disagree with him. He wants to trash the First Amendment in such a way as to make it possible for him to sue his critics.

He is, in short, even by the most charitable evaluation as much the antithesis of conservatism as Hillary Clinton is. Worse, he has unleashed a strain of authoritarianism, racism and anti-Semitism unseen in American national politics since the wildest days of the pre-repentant George Corley Wallace, a man who at last found the decency to do what Trump cannot bring himself do about anything and admit that he had been wrong.

Those who see Trump as merely a temporary aberration who will leave the Republican party essentially unchanged are wrong- tragically wrong. The corrupting disease of Trumpism, like Ebola, is spread by casual contact and is not easiyy cured.The nomination of Trump at Cleveland will leave a moral stain on the Republican party that it will take decades to wash away if it doesn't prove permanent. Never again will can the wild, generally slanderous rhetoric the Democrats throw around about Republican racism be laughed at and casually dismissed as the ravings of malicious extremists. The nomination of Trump will be their vindication, and the party will probably never live it down.

But worse, the accusations will have become accurate. The nomination of Trump will change the Republican party, and change it permanently. No honest person will ever be able to mention it and Abraham Lincoln in the same breath while keeping a straight face. No longer will free markets and personal responsibility be hallmark Republican values. The embrace of Donald Trump will corrupt more than the party's good name. It will change the party itself into the party of the bigots and the authoritarians and the anti-Semites. It will make it stand for exactly the opposite of everything it has traditionally stood for- and there is no easy way back.

In the unlikely event that Trump is elected, the purges will begin. The party will be conformed to Trump's will and image. It will, in fact, become the very thing Trump's nomination will make it seem to be. There will be no room for anyone not willing to bend the knee to The Donald and his slightest whim.

If he loses- which, thank God, he almost certainly will- a vengeful horde of his supporters, unable to accept responsibility for their own support of an erratic, unstable and unelectable jackass, will blame Republicans who didn't vote for Trump, or Mexicans, or the Trilateral Commission, or the Illuminati. And of course, there's the ultimate bugbear of 2016, the dreaded Republican Establishment- who will be imagined as including anybody who is not a thoroughgoing and unquestioning supporter of Trump and his ego.

Trumpism will not go quietly even in defeat. The infection will continue to thrive in the party's system, and chronic outbreaks can be expected. It will be an ongoing struggle simply to prevent it from taking over once again. One it embraces Trump at Cleveland, the Republican party will be forever changed into something Lincoln and Reagan would neither recognize nor embrace.

The talk of replacing Trump at the convention with Ted Cruz or Scott Walker is idle chatter. It will never happen. The violence that would break out alone will be a sufficient deterrent, and there has been absolutely no sign among leading Republicans of the kind of testicular fortitude it would take to do that. I personally would support such a move, and even though I remain convinced that Cruz's uncompromising confrontationism so admired as "principle" by his followers would be seen by the electorate as petty partisanship and doom him to defeat, I would support either Cruz or Walker. But the party doesn't have the guts. As a result, I fear that the Republican party is doomed to become the party of Donald Trump from here on out. Many of us will refuse to be associated with it again. Those who have embraced Trump- and especially those who supported his nomination- will bear an indelible moral stain. They have already lost all credibility with those who stand for what the party has traditionally stood for.  Trumpism will prove to be political Ebola not only for the Republican party, but for individuals and careers.

There has to be a new conservative party, free from the corrupting taint. Whether it will happen this year or four years from now or sometime in the future I don't know. I do believe that Mitt Romney- the one Republican of sufficient stature to actually have a chance of being elected were he to head an independent ticket- has a solemn duty to do exactly that.

But whether he does or not, the Republicans will never be the Grand Old Party again. The embrace of Donald Trump has permanently compromised it not only in reputation but in substance.

IF there is hope for the cause of free enterprise, free markets, a muscular yet responsible internationalism, and the politics of personal ethics and responsibility, it almost certainly lies in the creation of a new party to replace one infected by an illness that will not be easily cured.

HT: Real CLear Politics


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