Since securing status as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump has failed to united the party around him. Rather than moderate his rhetoric and reach out to factions which opposed him in the primary contest, Trump has doubled-down on personal attacks and divisive comments.
The effect has been ironic. Prompted by Trump’s recent and repeated articulation of religious and ethnic tests for federal judges, the GOP has begun to unite. However, it has done so in denunciation of its nominee rather than in solidarity. From the Associated Press:
On Tuesday, Republicans were squirming over what might have been the billionaire’s most incendiary stance to date — the claim that [U.S. District Judge Gonzalo] Curiel couldn’t preside fairly over the Trump University case because the U.S.-born judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“I regret those comments he made. Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” [House Speaker Paul] Ryan said. “I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”
“But do I believe Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not,” Ryan said.
Republicans find themselves in an incredibly awkward position, necessarily opposed to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, but unable to rally confidently around Trump.
“If Republicans believe that a man who believes in religious and ethnic tests for federal judges is fit to be president of the United States, they must explain why this is an acceptable position,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
Of course, Reid and the Democrats find themselves no better situated with the candidacy of Clinton, a nominee under active investigation by the FBI. The general election has become a contest over which candidate is least unfit.
That’s a contest Trump could win if he radically altered his approach to the campaign. He needs to shift focus from himself to an inspiring platform, from how people regard him to how he can serve their interests. But service has never been Trump’s motive. He has so far demonstrated little interest in moving beyond personal grudges to meaningful engagement befitting a candidate for nation’s highest office.