The Republican Party Had Too Many Dreams And Too Little Action

There is a very real possibility (up to 30 percent, according to stats-wiz Nate Silver!) that on Nov. 9, the world will wake up to realize that Donald Trump has been elected president. That terrifies a lot of Democrats. It terrifies a lot of Republican national security experts. A Trump presidency even terrifies many Republican elected officials.

But according to a Buzzfeed article by McKay Coppins published Tuesday morning, there are even other Republicans who hope that Trump will lose. Several Republican operatives, donors, and consultants are beginning to "privately panic" about some of Hillary Clinton's problems over the past few days, according to Coppins, and they are worried that if she can't campaign better, the whole country will have to deal with Trump — an outcome they didn't think could ever come to pass. One operative quoted in the piece told Coppins:

It’s terrifying. He’s not qualified … and it’s a massive problem. I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but at least I feel like some of those jobs that are required for president, she could do them.

But noticeably, that Republican, like all the other mentioned in the piece, refused to give his or her name, to give their words more credence than anonymous whispers. The piece implies that there is a large group of Republicans who worry about the fate of the country if Trump wins the presidency, but not as much as they worry about the "professional repercussions" of publicly coming out in opposition to him.

This is not the first time that reporters have shown a gap between conversations Republican leaders have in private about Trump and the way they act in public. In late February, the New York Times reported a story about the back-room talks among Republican leaders about Trump's unacceptability. It cited numerous Republican leaders who were appalled by the growing likelihood that Trump might run away with the Republican nomination — such as Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, and Mitch McConnell — but also highlighted how unwilling most were to take concrete action to stop it from happening.

The piece included perhaps the clearest example of righteous indignation fading into inaction. According to the article, Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Feb. 20 "erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party," and demanding action. Less than a week later, LePage was among the first Republican governors to endorse Trump.

Over the past year, efforts to stop Trump from winning the nomination or winning the presidency have cropped up multiple times, but they've eventually been stopped by the party leadership.

And now, the remaining Republicans who want things to change but haven't spoken up are relying on someone else to do it: the Democrats they spend most of their lives working against. It's enough to bring to mind a quote that's been in the news recently, as Ivanka Trump mistakenly attributed it to Emma Watson, instead of the ancient Rabbi Hillel the Elder: "If not me, who? If not now, when?"