In the most surreal moment in modern American politics, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told panicking Republicans that the GOP would actively destroy Donald Trump’s election chances if it came to that. That rush of warm air you feel on your face? It’s the wave of radiation from the Republican Party’s nuclear meltdown. We’re witnessing the death of a major political party.
Things are getting truly desperate in conservative camps and the grim acceptance that this isn’t a bad dream and that Trump is almost surely going to win the nomination has begun to set in. It’s led to an odd plan. In a stunning report by the New York Times, Republican sources confirm that party leadership is planning to destroy Trump and give Hillary Clinton the win rather than let him have control of the GOP.
To rally depressed Republicans, McConnell has hatched an unthinkable tactical retreat: Let Hillary Clinton win and focus on maintaining control over the Senate.
While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches.
Did you catch that? Mitch McConnell floated the idea of tanking his party’s own candidate for president over sandwiches at lunch.
McConnell’s thinking is this: If Republicans accept that Trump will never win the general election, they can devote their energy towards running against Clinton at the senate level. If that sounds insane, then welcome to the Republican Party in 2016.
The saddest part in this scheme is that McConnell’s plan probably won’t even work – at least not in the way he hopes. For one thing, Trump has run his entire campaign on being anti-everything the current “establishment” Republican Party stands for. If his rabid supporters catch wind of the fact that loathed senators like Mitch McConnell are lining against him, that will only make him more popular. Trump’s been saying the party is against him all along. This only confirms it.
Making matters even more dire, McConnell’s tenure as Senate Leader has been defined by such egregious levels of obstructionism that Republican lawmakers are roughly as popular as athlete’s foot. In just the last few weeks, sources leaked McConnell’s plan to literally do nothing during this year’s legislative session. If that “do nothing” strategy is shameful, he only made it worse by following it up with the announcement that he would be blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee to score political points. Neither decision was popular with Democrats or Republicans.
As a result, polls suggest McConnell is leading Senate Republicans into an epic defeat on election day. Having destroyed Trump to save the jobs of Senate Republicans, he will be left with nothing to show for it. A fitting end to a Republican Party that rushed so fast to the bottom that they didn’t realize they had jumped off of a cliff.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr