A third candidate could lay the groundwork for a new political party. The Republican Party may right itself after this moral disaster, led by men and women of the caliber of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.). But the sad truth is that although the speaker has the qualities of a statesman, two of his Republican predecessors have indicated that they would vote for Trump without qualms, while a third is too preoccupied with his upcoming jail term to say much of anything.
The Republican presidential defeat that likely impends will reflect an entirely appropriate national revulsion at the GOP candidate, whose personal record of chicanery and wild rhetoric of bigotry, misogyny and misplaced belligerence are without parallel in the modern history of either major party. It is entirely conceivable that the damage done will be permanent.
And in any case, the party founded by Lincoln is sick. The influence on it of ranting reality-television players, talk-show hucksters and monomaniacs of various stripes may not recede. The temper that led a supposedly responsible party of governance to repeatedly attempt to shut down the government may, in turn, shut it out of executive power for a long time.