Despite long and public opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, it would be easy for me to come around and support him. Hillary Clinton proves so horrible, and the stakes of this election prove so high, that I would come around in an instant if Trump displayed the slightest degree of grace, competence, and leadership. The clock resets on that expectation every day. Each morning provides a fresh opportunity for Trump to do the right thing, to strike the right tone, and to become the candidate our nation needs rather than the one it apparently deserves.
Alas, at every given opportunity, Trump commits another unforced error. Even when the right thing seems so obvious and would be so easy, he does the exact opposite in the most flamboyant manner possible. From awkward comments about getting a Purple Heart the easy way to his ongoing feud with a Gold Star family, Trump acts as though he lost a dare and must now sabotage his own candidacy in the most catastrophic manner possible.
That’s bad enough onto itself. But the effect spills over from his candidacy to others down the ticket. Trump’s idiotic behavior is tearing the Republican Party apart. From the New York Times:
Donald Trump’s unabashed and continuing hostility toward the parents of a slain Muslim American soldier and his attacks on GOP leaders who have rebuked him for it threaten to shatter his uneasy alliance with the Republican Party at the outset of the general election campaign.
Ignoring the pleas of his advisers and entreaties from party leaders in Washington, Trump only dug in further Tuesday. He told a Virginia television station that he had no regrets about his clash with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq.
And in an interview with the Washington Post, Trump declined to endorse for re-election several Republicans who had criticized him.
This confirms what many of us have been saying about Trump for months. The strategy embraced by many, to support Trump despite his flaws in an effort to influence him toward the good, was never going to work. He’s like a political Terminator. He can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until his candidacy and the Republican Party are dead.
As the ship sinks, it’s rapidly becoming every man for himself aboard the S.S. GOP. Yet, Captain Reince Priebus refuses to save what’s possible by signaling the need to abandon Trump.
… the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has acknowledged the dispute with the Khans has harmed Trump, but he has pleaded with party leaders and donors to give Trump time to adjust to the general election, according to people briefed on Priebus’ conversations.
But Trump isn’t even trying. He sees no need to adjust. Trump lacks the essential quality required for such adjustment, namely grace. It’s a completely foreign concept to him, as made clear during the primary campaign when he talked about his relationship with God. Recall what he said during an event in Iowa sponsored by social conservatives.:
Moderator Frank Luntz asked Trump whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.
“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
Trump personifies self-righteousness. It oozes from him. It defines his being. He doesn’t bring God into his mistakes because, in his mind, he doesn’t need Him. What is God going to do that Trump can’t?
Since that Iowa statement, we’ve been told by certain evangelical leaders that Trump has accepted Christ as his personal savior and has begun life as “a baby Christian.” While that may be true, Trump’s ongoing pattern of behavior suggests otherwise. A Christian conversion experience changes someone within. It crushes their ego under the weight of conviction, then lifts up the new believer though grace. That experience has an immediate and profound effect upon personal behavior. You don’t experience the grace of God and then go on acting the same as before.
Trump’s conduct, particularly surrounding the Khan dispute, indicates no sense of grace whatsoever. His default response to any critic, even a Gold Star family, is to vindictively lash out. That’s the conduct of sinners and children, not a graceful man of God.
The shipwreck analogy proves apt. Any notion of defeating Hillary becomes increasingly like holding out for port on the Titanic. It’s not going to happen. We’re not getting to our destination. There aren’t enough lifeboats, and half the souls aboard are going to die. That’s where were at, and Republicans are coming to realize it far too late.