The Republican Party is in turmoil. Its leadership has so far chosen to support a presumptive nominee that has used hate, fear and personal attacks to secure enough delegates to be nominated at its upcoming convention. Does the GOP really want to be the party of Donald Trump?
Does it want to cave to the rebuke Trump challenged them with on Wednesday in campaign a speech Atlanta? "You know, the Republicans, honestly, folks, our leaders -- our leaders have to get tougher," he said. "This is too tough to do it alone. But you know what? I think I am going to be forced to." Does the party want to roll over in the face of the stinging criticism it received from Sam Clovis, Trump's campaign co-chair? "Either they want to get behind the presumptive nominee, who will be the nominee of this party, and make sure that we do everything we can to win in November, or we're just asking them if they can't do that, then just shut the hell up," he said.
Following Trump's outrageous statements about an American born judge of Mexican heritage, and his statements about Muslims, he has seen his support among Americans sharply decline. An astonishing 70 percent of Americans surveyed recently by ABC News now have an unfavorable view of Trump. Yet Trump intends on doing nothing to address this problem. Instead, he is using the same narrow strategy that brought him victory in the Republican primaries--attack, divide and bully. But in order to win in the general election he will need to attract independents, Democrats, women and minorities.
A growing number of Republicans at all levels are distancing themselves from Trump. Asked to comment on Trump's ridiculous statement that President Obama was responsible for the terrorist massacre in Orlando, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responded, "I am not going to be commenting on the presidential candidate today." Last week, when McConnell was asked who Trump should pick as his running mate, he said, "He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who announced his support of Trump after many weeks, still has not fully embraced the candidate. In an interview with NBC News, which will air Sunday, Ryan was asked whether Republicans should follow their conscience? "The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience," he said. "I get that this a very strange situation. He a very unique nominee. But I feel as a responsibility institutionally as the speaker of the House that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party. Because you know what I know that'll do? That'll definitely knock us out of the White House," he added.
Fundraising is now a problem for the Republican Party. And many major companies that sponsored the GOP's 2012 convention have announced they will not be sponsoring its upcoming convention. Down-ballot races are now threatened because Trump's behavior is undermining Senate and House candidates across the country. The problem is so severe that the party has turned to former President George W. Bush, who was very unpopular when he left office, to help save its most vulnerable senators.
Stopping Trump from becoming the Republican presidential nominee will not be easy at this point. Trump received more than 13 million votes in the primaries, and he has won more than enough delegates to be nominated. If the party gives its nomination to someone else, and there is no clear alternative, it will risk revolt. But would the GOP really be worse off if it did so?
For the past eight years the Republicans have been the party of obstructionism in Congress. Its leadership has allowed a minority of conservatives to dictate the direction of the party no matter the consequences, including shutting the government down. The leadership has repeatedly said no to compromise with Democrats for fear of upsetting those on its far right.
So it should be no surprise that the party's leadership has not stood up to Donald Trump. His bullying tactics, racist statements and lack of temperament have damaged their brand, and they will do nothing except hope for the best in November's elections.
In short, Republicans will reap what they have sown.