The past week has been among the most disastrous of the Trump “presidency”, and that is saying something. A Trump-insisted-upon government shutdown was finally lifted, at least temporarily, but only after billions of dollars in damage had been done. The Friday arrest of yet another of Trump’s campaign confidants, this one nudging closer than any of the others at suggesting Trump’s top team did not just know of a Russian espionage effort against the United States, but sought to aid and profit from it.
So it only stands to reason that the Republican Party writ large is, in the midst of this chaos, choosing this moment to pledge a deeper loyalty to Donald Trump. Trump, an incompetent buffoon teetering astride multiple top federal and state investigations into crimes ranging from tax fraud to illegal campaign acts to being a genuine agent of a foreign power, is about to get a gift the party has showered on no Republican before him.
The Republican National Committee is poised to pass an unprecedented pledge on Friday to give Trump their “undivided support” before he is the party’s official nominee.
This is, of course, an effort to break the back of any Republican challenge to Trump’s candidacy before it is ever announced. Last December news broke of efforts to merge the Republican National Committee with the Donald Trump reelection campaign, supposedly to create a more “streamlined” structure that would minimize duplicate work but one that would do so, of course, by eliminating support for any other contender.
It may seem baffling that the Republican Party would go to such lengths to prop up a deeply unpopular man surrounded by seemingly infinite scandals, converting itself into a Dear Leader-styled contraption devoted solely to boosting him over all others. It is not; it is, if anything, expected of them. “Republican” at this point stands for nothing, ideologically; efforts to preen about morals one moment while boosting a serial liar and adulterer the next, as with indignant ranting about email security, budget restraint and the rest, have transparently become nothing but cue-card drivel meant to last no longer than any given television appearance.
The public head of the party could be a soggy goat, for all it matters. Partisan devotion is what counts; whether Dear Leader is corrupt, stupid or mentally ill is all the same if there’s still a slogan you can put on a hat and a bitter, resentful base willing to cut their own ears off to give it a better fit.
So yes; Trump has once again tightened the noose around the Republican Party, with their own help and fawning support. They have not gone so far as to bar other Republicans from the ballot—but that may yet be done by the various states. Which will be interesting, given that the arrests of seemingly every one of Trump’s top confidants and campaign officials are not expected to stop with the likes of Roger Stone.