Could this finally be the moment? After four long years of watching him scream, spit, pout and pontificate in primary debates, national debates and on Twitter, can this Ukraine-gate story of President Donald Trump trying to bury his political enemies by withholding foreign aid to the Ukrainian people unless President Volodymyr Zelensky gives up dirt on Joe Biden’s son? For the liberals still whining and conservatives still crying, this might be the way Trump goes down. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is lining up her ducks, and the nation is waiting to see what comes to light. Yet, this might be the time for the GOP to get ready for a Plan B without Trump running for re-election. The very future of the party might be in the hands of the primary season.
William Kristol, one of the leading conservatives in the country, wrote in a New York Times Editorial the best summary of what is at stake: “The 2020 Republican nomination is an open question. It is a decision of great consequence on which all Republicans have a say, and all have a responsibility. Republican leaders in particular — Republican elected officials and former elected officials, Republican activists and donors, appointees of this administration and of former Republican administrations — bear a weighty responsibility. They can support Donald Trump and put a stamp of approval on his tenure in office. They can keep quiet, a stamp of approval of its own sort. Or they can step up and act for the honor of their party and the good of their country.”
What makes Trump’s Ukraine-gate so frustrating is that this is exactly what the #NeverTrump people like me, Kristol, George Will, etc., were really scared of. Russian collusion was always a muddy, messy, illusion of a sin no one could put a clear finger on. Racist border plans and caging families isn’t anything America hasn’t talked about or done before. Allegations of being part of Jeffery Epstein’s sex trafficking troupe involved names too big to bring down as a whole. All of those associations come with being a powerful man before office and during office. Hell, even Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were part of Russian collusion in the 1940s. While all those things are wrong, with Epstein’s tie-in being the most hideous, we knew he was a deviant. What many really feared was his unhinged ignorance in using presidential power to blackmail our allies and other world leaders.
To use the Ukrainian government as a catapult in mud slinging against a political opponent, Trump has completely tarnished the idea that the government serves the citizens, and he applied unethical corporate practices of squeeze a weaker nation. He might be the president, but he isn’t presidential. He’s a whining, bombasting, citizen-attacking, woman-grabbing, self-centered narcissist who promised a bill of goods to the uneducated and a false sense of security to the evangelicals. If he gets impeached and tossed out, so be it. He wants to be a martyr.
What the Republican Party needs to focus on now is gearing up for a “back-to-normal” candidate that can restore the general public’s faith in classical conservatism. Even though Trump ripped to shreds “Lil” Marco Rubio, “Low Energy” Jeb, and “That Face” Carly Fiorina with name calling and ad hominem attacks, the country did that dance and the exhausting idea of repeating another presidential election season with such undesired bravado will only create a more cynical and divided country.
If Trump is removed from office, which would be as early as January, the GOP has only a few months to restore the party and find a candidate. Vice President Mike Pence is as about as inspiring as a vanilla-colored crayon. What we’ve learned is that the country likes a fighter, but not a complete bruiser. We want the class of Muhammad Ali, but not the temper of Mike Tyson.
Even if Trump survives, he’s now completely damaged goods. The case against him is too easy. America deserves a real choice between two political philosophies. If the GOP doesn’t gear up soon then only the voters in the Democratic primaries will be selecting the president.