Summer is almost upon us. Normally a highly anticipated season, the summer of 2016 has the specter of the Republican National Convention casting an ominous shadow over backyard BBQs. Upon the Convention’s mid-July arrival, Donald Trump’s coronation will be made official. Physical violence may end up marring the already existentially violent proceedings, and the city of Cleveland may be left exorcising opportunistic and ethically challenged GOP demons for years to come. But all of that pales in comparison to the damage that will probably be done to the Republican Party’s national platform at this year’s GOP Convention.
Donald Trump is a wild card—and not in a good way. Most everyone not named Sarah Palin or Dennis Rodman recognizes that. Electing Trump as president is a game of Russian roulette that has ‘sobbing while curled up in the fetal position’ as the best possible outcome. The fact that the Donald has a penchant for not paying his creditors and investors is common knowledge. So common, in fact, that it boggles the minds of those of us in the #NeverTrump crowd that supposed conservatives are willing to turn this country’s economic reins over to a default- and bankruptcy-loving man. It doesn’t seem to phase Trump’s supposed pro-life supporters that the praises of Planned Parenthood goose-step off of his lips. His constant waffling on gay marriage is apparently a non-issue for Trumpkins who claim that God instituted marriage to be between one man and one woman. And sadly, Christians who profess support for North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory apparently plug their ears whenever Trump states his support for transgender persons using the bathroom of their choosing.
His economic and moral deficiencies as well as his glaring liberal tendencies flat-out liberalism have been repeated ad nauseam. Unfortunately, few self-professing conservatives seem to be listening. Many of them are naively squeezing into the greasy, haphazardly-constructed Trump circus. This is scary since a Trump nomination pretty much ensures that social conservatives will finally be pushed out of the GOP tent.
It’s no secret that many in the GOP find the stances taken by social conservatives embarrassing and an obstruction to their goals. Saving the Republican Party from “bigoted” stumbling blocks is high on the agenda for many in the libertarian arm of the GOP (especially the younger crowd) as well as the stodgy, entrenched crony capitalists who dominate the backroom DC deals. In 2012, they almost succeeded.
The internal fight over the 2012 Republican national platform was contentious. According to one 2012 GOP platform committee member with whom I recently spoke, social conservatives had to fight tooth and nail to have pro-life and traditional marriage positions included in the national platform. I was told that the mood was very anti-social conservative causes. And for this particular committee member, his greatest fear about the ascendance of Donald Trump is that 2016 will be the year that social conservatives are finally evicted from the Republican Party.
With Donald Trump at the helm, socially-liberal Republicans will be free to remake the GOP in their own image. Gone will be a national voice defending the rights of unborn children. Gone will be any national platform from which traditional, God-defined marriage is advocated. Gone will be a bulwark against the rising tide of progressive quicksand. With Trump as their leader, social liberals will have free rein within the GOP.
The sadness buried in my source’s voice as he lamented the coming death of the social conservative movement that he had helped build was matched by his dumbfoundedness at the willingness of many of his friends and cohorts to begrudgingly support Trump.
“This is about more than 2016 and potential SCOTUS nominees,” he told me. “This is about the future of the conservative movement and the destruction of any conservative principles within the GOP. I don’t understand why any social conservative would take part in their own dismantling, and ultimately the dismantling of this country.”
While listening to him speak, the phrase, “putting the final nail in your own coffin” came to my mind. I, too, am befuddled as to why my socially conservative friends are consorting with Trump. A Donald Trump-helmed Republican Party will cast aside any pretense of caring about social issues that burden conservatives. Trump’s official installation as leader of the GOP in July may very well signal the beginning of social conservatives’ exile from the Republican Party and, hence, the national stage.