Column: Trump’s nomination leaves the GOP with a tough choice

The Republican Party can either continue to divide or wake up and work to prevent a dangerous candidate from taking office.

T.S. Eliot once wrote, “This is the way the world ends. / Not with a bang but a whimper.” That’s what just happened to the Republican Party and, on a larger scale, America.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced he was suspending his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination Tuesday after losing the Indiana primary. The man who’s been jokingly rumored to be the Zodiac Killer murdered the possibility of a contested national convention that could have stopped the party’s nefarious frontrunner. Instead, there’s no competition for the nomination anymore. Although Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, said Tuesday night that he was sticking around, he never stood a chance, and he changed his mind and dropped out the next day. As the New York Times editorial board put it, “It’s Donald Trump’s Party Now.”

Neither journalists nor Republican leaders saw this coming when Trump, who’s never held elected office a day in his life, declared his candidacy less than a year ago. One of the other 16 more qualified candidates vying for the nomination had to overtake him at some point, right? Wrong. Thanks to his boisterous personality, his opponents’ collective lack of organization and the media’s excessive focus on him, Trump rose to the top. It didn’t help that GOP elites were reluctant to denounce him. Some of them still are.

Minutes after Cruz’s exit, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted that the party needed to unite and focus on defeating the Democratic frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He even mocked the #NeverTrump movement by writing “#NeverClinton.”

Seriously? Is the GOP really willing to abandon morality for the sake of ideology? It would appear so, and that’s sad. The party is apparently willing to elect a racist, sexist xenophobe with zero political expertise over an experienced, accomplished, respectful politician just because the former calls himself a conservative.

Not all notable Republicans are on board with Trump. The past two Republican presidents, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, have refused to endorse Trump despite supporting the last two GOP nominees. Other Republicans are leaving the party or simply backing Clinton, albeit begrudgingly. Mark Salter, a strategist for 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, tweeted Clinton’s slogan, “I’m with her.” But many, including former candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, are just as begrudgingly resigning themselves to Trump, even while acknowledging that he is unqualified to lead a country.

Trump’s nomination leaves the GOP with a choice. It can continue to divide, or it can wake up and work to prevent a dangerous candidate from taking office. Trump is unknowingly offering the party an opportunity for serious positive change. Putting pride aside and uniting against Trump, even though that means voting for a Democrat, is the best the Republican Party can do to avoid complete collapse.

I said in my first column that it’s important for students to care about politics, and I’m reiterating that point now in my last column of the semester. For the vast majority of MU students, this is our first opportunity to vote in a national election. Back in January, I didn’t tell anyone who to vote for out of respect for people’s various beliefs and because there were so many more candidates at the time. But now that Donald Trump has nearly secured the Republican nomination, I say this not from a political standpoint, but from a moral one: Please, regardless of party affiliation, do not vote for him. Do your part to keep him out of the Oval Office, and I’m sure America will thank you later.

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