If, as appears increasingly likely, Hillary Clinton wins today, the Republicans most responsible for the calamity will stand ready to spout a load of excuses they’ve been accumulating since the Republican National Convention, when it became reasonably apparent that Donald Trump was going to run his general-election campaign just the way he did his primary race. Let’s save them the trouble:
It’s the media’s fault. How long are inept and out-of-touch Republicans going to blame the media? They’ve got Fox News, Breitbart, talk radio, etc. — advantages some Republicans never had before. They had multiple debates to get their message out. Oh, yes, and the media handed Trump a couple of billion dollars’ worth of ad time in the primaries, making his nomination possible. If they cannot win with all that, they never will.
There is no electoral majority of right-wing, older white males who resent women in the workplace and immigrants in their country.
It’s the FBI’s fault. We thought James B. Comey was a hero. Oh, I know, that’s so pre-Nov. 6 (the day of his last letter). Seriously, if Republicans need a criminal prosecution to beat a flawed opponent running for a third Democratic presidential term, they have real problems. Saying that Clinton never should have been allowed to run assumes that she was a really good candidate, not a weak one.
It’s the #NeverTrumpers’ fault. C’mon, guys. The people who warned that Trump was a disaster are not to be blamed. The people who ignored the #NeverTrumpers are. To our chagrin, the large majority of Republicans will vote for Trump. It’s everyone else — that means Democrats and independents, in addition to a small but determined batch of Republicans — who would be responsible for his defeat, if Clinton wins. The argument blaming #NeverTrumpers ignores why they voted against Trump and presupposes that the highest obligation Republicans have is not to country, but to party. Many Republicans emphatically reject the argument.
It’s a one-off problem unique to the Trump candidacy. Nonsense. The GOP has not won the presidency since 2004 because it insists on relying on a diminishing segment of the electorate and infuriating everyone else. The chickens are coming home to roost as millions of women, African Americans, Hispanics and millennials turn against the GOP in ever greater numbers.
It’s the way the system works; there was nothing to be done. That’s the excuse we may hear from Republican National Committee officials who were so worried about losing Trump that they sold their party’s principles away to keep him in the fold. At several instances, the RNC could have made a difference if it had repudiated him, demanded that he release tax information or allowed delegates to vote their conscience. Moreover, this doesn’t explain why GOP primary voters failed to reject an ignoramus, a racist, a xenophobe and a dangerous narcissist. By the time the primaries rolled around — and certainly the general election — they knew exactly what they were getting. They voted for him anyway.
It’s the fault of white voters who didn’t turn out. This sort of magical thinking is what got the GOP into trouble in the first place. There is no electoral majority of right-wing, older white males who resent women in the workplace and immigrants in their country. Americans are a diverse, tolerant nation of immigrants who, generally speaking, do not hate government; the GOP’s resistance to that reality has led to its current, sorry state.
It was closer than the [Goldwater/McCain/Romney] race. If Trump goes down to defeat, the margin may be big or small. Nevertheless, he will have lost to Hillary Clinton, for goodness’ sake, who is the most flawed, disliked and untrustworthy major-party candidate in history with one exception. It’s not enough to say that Trump (perhaps) made it close. Any other Republican should have cleaned up against a candidate with this many faults.
No, my dear Republicans, if Trump loses, they have themselves to blame — for adopting a white-grievance mentality, for burrowing in a right-wing media cave, for pretending that the country is supposed to be what it was in 1950 when white Christian America was supreme, for listening to anti-immigrant advocates spout untruths to justify xenophobia, for getting cowed by the irrational mob, for becoming anti-government ideologues, for forgetting the essence of modern conservatism (humility, caution, respect for fellow Americans, dedication to equality of opportunity), for losing interest in good governance, for following religious charlatans who laughably claim the moral high ground, for giving way to all-or-nothing purists who make money from obstructionist tactics and for refusing to denounce hucksters and con men who plowed the way for Trump. If the party doesn’t attend to those very real, serious problems, it will keep on losing presidential races — and maybe fade away altogether.
Jennifer Rubin writes The Right Turn blog for The Washington Post.