Even if you don’t like Donald Trump, seeing Ted Cruz get chased out of a restaurant by an angry mob—or watching protesters scold and lecture normal Republicans like Susan Collins and Jeff Flake—can spark an expected backlash. (Note to liberals on Twitter: The proliferation of comments like: “Don’t let any Republican politician have any comfort. Chase them out of restaurants. Picket in front of their houses. Shame them!” is counterproductive.)
When under attack, you circle the wagons. This is an understandable emotional response, but there is also a somewhat rational explanation: simple acceptance. As Ben Shapiro (a former Never Trumper who says he’s “more apt” to vote for Trump in 2020) told me a while back, most of the damage Trump could do (to the party’s brand and the social fabric of America) has already been done. It’s water under the bridge. If you’re going to suffer the downside of Trump, why not reap the benefits?
It’s not like Democrats are going to seize the ground abandoned by Trump and become the civil alternative, arguing for making peace with conservatives, preserving our republican institutions, and returning to civility. In fact, just days after allegations that Brett Kavanaugh was present at a gang rape were lodged against the Republican nominee, Democrats are wondering if it’s time to be more ruthless.