There Is One Good Thing About Donald Trump's Campaign

As many political observers have noted, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a garbage fire, and will likely remain so for some time. There are many reasons for this: His race-baiting, violent rhetoric, and extremist policies, along with the campaign’s woeful managerial incompetence, have all been abject embarrassments. But Trump’s campaign has done one genuinely good thing: It’s exposed the true colors of Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and many other “reasonable” Republicans.

After the catastrophic presidency of George W. Bush and the rise of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, the GOP had a pretty big image problem. And while it’s easy to forget now, plenty of the Republicans who’ve endorsed Trump were once seen as the level-headed folks who could fix this problem, pulling the GOP away from the dark side and into the 21st Century. They were, in short, the “future” of the party.

Take Ryan, for example. Long before he became Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, he'd cultivated a reputation as a well-intentioned, sober-minded policy wonk. While other Republicans were screaming about Obama's birth certificate, Ryan, so the narrative went, was simply a young nerd concerned about the country’s fiscal well-being. He was respected both by liberals and conservatives for his earnestness, and was certainly never seen as politically ambitious.

Much of the same was true about Rubio. In 2012, Reuters called him the “future of the Republican Party” after his speech at the Republican National Convention. The next year, Rubio appeared on the cover of Time, the words “The Republican Savior” plastered across his image. This thoughtful, non-incendiary Republican — who was Hispanic and supported immigration reform — would be the one to guide the GOP away from its uglier impulses and into a brighter, more optimistic future.

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It’s become abundantly clear now that this was all spin. It’s hard to buy the idea that Ryan truly cares about shedding the Republican Party’s racist reputation, for example, when he endorses a candidate whom he admits is a racist. Rubio’s complete lack of depth was exposed during an infamous debate in New Hampshire, but by endorsing Trump — a man whom he called a “con artist” who can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes — Rubio has obliterated his reputation as an independent thought leader in the party.

Rubio and Ryan, rather, are garden-variety politicians. They might personally wish that Trump wasn’t the GOP’s standard-bearer, but make no mistake: At the end of the day, loyalty to the party is what ultimately dictates their decisions. There’s no other way to read their behavior in this campaign. Two of the GOP’s “biggest rising stars” have revealed themselves to be boilerplate party hacks. This is valuable information to have, especially considering that either or both may run for president again in the future. And as odd as it sounds, we have Trump and his insane campaign to thank for this.