Another reason to stay is to rebel against the utter cowardice and ineptitude of the current GOP leadership. Almost a year ago, I called for excommunicating Trump from the GOP, much as we did with David Duke in the 1990s. But Reince Priebus and the GOP panjandrums, like the hapless and doomed Harry Ellis trying to negotiate with Gruber, believed they could get Trump to deal.
This was not only idiotic, it betrayed the very idea of a “party” as something that communicates a message besides “whatever you want.” Indeed, it one of the greatest ironies of this election season that people who claimed to be fighting the “GOPe”—and who insisted they had no voice—were in fact pandered to relentlessly. The Republican Party, far from ignoring these voters, was too responsive to them. Parties should lead as well as follow. They are not just public utilities where anyone can wheel and deal away the party’s principles.
The Republican Party leadership, far from stopping Trump, was his enabler. They made it possible for him to hijack debates, go to war with other Republicans, and generally to do everything parties are supposed to prevent. (Compare how the Democrats handled Bernie Sanders and finally extinguished his ridiculous run at the White House.) As another Twitter wit, paraphrasing Gruber, put it: “You ask for miracles, Theo? I give you the G…O…P.”
The Republican Party used to stand for something. The only way it will continue to stand for something is if the people who care about ideas and principles stay in it.