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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"If We Must Have an Enemy at the Head of the Government..."

On May 10, 1800, Hamilton wrote:
For my individual part my mind is made up. I will never more be responsible for him by my direct support—even though the consequence should be the election of Jefferson. If we must have an enemy at the head of the Government, let it be one whom we can oppose & for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures. Under Adams as under Jefferson the government will sink. The party in the hands of whose chief it shall sink will sink with it and the advantage will all be on the side of his adversaries.
Mona Charen wrote last month:
If Clinton is president, a united Republican Party will oppose her. Assuming Republican control of the House, she will not be able to pass a single piece of liberal legislation. She may attempt -- as she has promised on the campaign trail -- to rule by executive order, in the manner of Barack Obama. If she does, there will be pushback by Republicans. Just this month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the House of Representatives in its suit against Obama's use of executive orders in the implementation of Obamacare. If she nominates terrible judges to the federal courts, a Republican Senate (assuming Republicans hold the Senate) could decline to confirm. If she attempts to reprise or even exceed the many arrogations of power Obama has attempted, Republicans will block her as best they can. It will be ugly, and Republicans will not always be successful.

If Donald Trump is president, by contrast, there will be no united opposition among Republicans. As we've seen in the past few weeks, the urge to bend the knee is very strong. How much more intense will it be if he sits in the Oval Office? Republicans will actively assist President Trump in undermining conservatism. From entitlements to trade to NATO to nuclear proliferation to universal health care to abortion, President Trump will get a free hand. He thus has it within his power to sabotage the whole conservative enterprise.
At The Washington Post, Robert Kagan follows up:
Consider the reasons Republicans support Trump today. The first is party interest. Trump was chosen by the voters in a legitimate race and according to the rules of the Republican primary process. To abandon him, they fear, would destroy the party. Moreover, it would hand a victory to the “Obama-Clinton-Sanders” Democrats, who some Republicans insist would be an even bigger disaster. Finally, Republicans up for election fear that if they oppose Trump and anger his supporters, they will face dangerous primary challenges or lose in the general election.

Which of these motives will disappear once Trump becomes president? He will still be the Republican Party’s legitimately chosen leader, as well as the legitimately elected president. The election cycle doesn’t end in November. To oppose Trump as president will be even more contrary to the party’s interests than it is now. Will Republicans line up with Democrats to vote against Trump-inspired legislation — to ban Muslims from entering the country, for instance, or to deport 11 million illegal immigrants? To do so would only hand the opposition major political victories, setting the stage for Democratic congressional gains in 2018. Party interests will require that the party support its president.