Shadow Government

A front-row seat to the Republicans' debate over foreign policy, including their critique of the Biden administration.

The Man Who Would Destroy the Republican Party

The GOP must take a stand against Donald Trump.

<> on December 5, 2015 in Davenport, Iowa.
<> on December 5, 2015 in Davenport, Iowa.
<> on December 5, 2015 in Davenport, Iowa.

Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party -- something the Democratic political leadership and mainstream party, with the exception of its radical fringe, have never attempted and have, of course, never accomplished. Trump, with the support of a highly polarized, liberal media that has consistently paid him inordinate attention and provided him with an outsized platform, is a one-man demolition crew. He is calling forth the worst elements of the GOP base to the detriment of the party’s domestic and international image. It is almost as if Trump were on the Democrats’ payroll.

Having promised not to run as an independent, Trump is now backtracking. He claims that two-thirds of those who currently support him within the party will continue to support him outside of it. Should Trump claim the nomination, the odds of a Republican retaking the White House become increasingly longer. And should a Democrat (Hillary Clinton?) take the White House, and do so by a large margin thanks to Trump’s blatant “know-nothingism,” the Republican hold on the Senate could well disappear.

Overseas, Trump has become more than an international curiosity. His scattershot attacks on Muslims are alienating both ordinary adherents of that faith, and the leaders of key U.S. allies. Indeed, at the very time that the United States needs the Arab states to contribute forces to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Trump is telling them that their people are not welcome here. And this is the man who seeks to become commander-in-chief.

Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party — something the Democratic political leadership and mainstream party, with the exception of its radical fringe, have never attempted and have, of course, never accomplished. Trump, with the support of a highly polarized, liberal media that has consistently paid him inordinate attention and provided him with an outsized platform, is a one-man demolition crew. He is calling forth the worst elements of the GOP base to the detriment of the party’s domestic and international image. It is almost as if Trump were on the Democrats’ payroll.

Having promised not to run as an independent, Trump is now backtracking. He claims that two-thirds of those who currently support him within the party will continue to support him outside of it. Should Trump claim the nomination, the odds of a Republican retaking the White House become increasingly longer. And should a Democrat (Hillary Clinton?) take the White House, and do so by a large margin thanks to Trump’s blatant “know-nothingism,” the Republican hold on the Senate could well disappear.

Overseas, Trump has become more than an international curiosity. His scattershot attacks on Muslims are alienating both ordinary adherents of that faith, and the leaders of key U.S. allies. Indeed, at the very time that the United States needs the Arab states to contribute forces to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Trump is telling them that their people are not welcome here. And this is the man who seeks to become commander-in-chief.

Trump claims that he will bring his successful business practices to the White House. Either he is acknowledging that his business practices included blatant discrimination against minorities, or, alternately, that there is no connection between Trump the businessman and Trump the politician. Should the latter be the case, his business background is as irrelevant as his political posturing is repulsive.

Republicans must be even more vocal in their condemnation of Trump’s behavior. That should include all Republican candidates, without exception. Republican leaders and candidates should do all they can to rein in those talk-show hosts who are doing the Democrats’ work for them by endorsing every inanity that emerges from Trump’s lips. Specifically, no Republican politician should agree to have anything to do with any broadcaster who supports anything Trump says.

But Democrats must be more responsible as well. It is exceedingly tempting to tar all Republicans with the Trump brush, as the White House has attempted to do. But it is not in the nation’s interest to do so. The United States needs two strong parties who can work together in Washington on the major challenges it confronts. Regardless of which party is in the majority, and certainly when each party dominates a different end of Pennsylvania Avenue, it is crucial that neither is taken over by its extremists. Otherwise, the gridlock that has hamstrung effective policy-making throughout much of the past decade will persist for a generation.

A gridlocked Washington is already leading our allies to question our seriousness of purpose. The long-term damage that Trump is continuing to cause will only intensify such questions, and will prompt friends and “partners” to reconsider their relationship with the United States. As a result, it will be far more difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to organize coalitions to confront international aggression and terrorism. At the end of the day, the only beneficiaries of the Trump phenomenon will be America’s actual and potential adversaries, whether in Asia, Europe or the Middle East.

It is time for political and media leaders to act. Every day that Trump remains the center of American political attention further damages our role as leader of the free world. He must be stopped, and the best way to stop him is for politicians to condemn him without equivocation, and for the media to ignore him regardless of his antics.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images News

 

Dov Zakheim is the former Under Secretary of Defense.

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