Wow. Just wow. We have been following politics for a very long time (too long, perhaps), and we honestly have never seen anything quite like the insane gyrations currently rocking the presidential race. We always knew that the triumph of Donald J. Trump over a field of hapless Republican losers in the primaries was going to be the gift that kept on giving, but never in our wildest dreams did we expect things to get as truly unhinged as they are right now.
With so many choice events to choose from, it’s hard for us to pick our favorite recent political development, but there’s definitely one thing that perfectly encapsulated the volatile, unprecedented position the elephants find themselves in. It happened outside the Republican National Committee headquarters, where Trump’s Virginia campaign chair Corey Stewart recently staged a protest against the RNC for purportedly failing to support The Donald. The Trump campaign responded by immediately firing Corey Stewart.
Think about that. Trump’s state chairman actually organized a protest against his own party’s national committee, even though RNC chairman Reince Priebus is one of the few GOP talking heads still offering unqualified support for the unstable, foul-mouthed, misogynistic rage machine who sits hunched atop the Republican ticket like a coked-up King Kong, unwilling (or unable) to admit that he’s mortally wounded. And Trump rewarded Stewart’s initiative by throwing him off the campaign’s swiftly sinking ship.
Although we have never wavered in our conviction that Hillary Clinton will be our next president, we would be lying if we didn’t admit to a few moments of nervousness leading up to the first presidential debate. The negative narrative that the press has long loved to spin around Clinton seemed to be hardening, and Trump’s relentless hammering of her was dragging her down to his subterranean level.
But then came Clinton’s masterful debate performance. And Trump’s meandering meltdown. And his unhinged attacks on a former Miss Universe. And his 3am tweets telling the world to check out a fictional sex tape. And the leaked “Access Hollywood” audio of Trump bragging that he likes to sexually assault women. And the second presidential debate, which Trump kicked off by appearing with women who had accused former president Bill Clinton of sex crimes, and capped off by threatening to abuse the power of the presidency by sending his political opponent to prison.
The result? A stampede of Republican rodents fleeing the S.S. Trumptanic as fast as their little feet could carry them. It began as a trickle, with Virginia’s very own U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock, who is locked in a tight race to retain her congressional seat, taking to Facebook to urge Trump to quit the race in the wake of his hideous “locker-room talk” scandal. It swiftly ballooned, however, until even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in a conference call with colleagues, declared that he would no longer defend his party’s pumpkin-hued, presidency-seeking pustule, and informed members fighting for political survival that they were free to run as far and fast as possible from Trump’s dumpster fire of a campaign.
This, of course, sparked a huge backlash from Republican base voters who still love Trump, and think Clinton is the devil incarnate. And thus does one of America’s most successful and durable political parties find itself coming apart at the seams, with a monster dragging it steadily into darkness, and a horrified host of now-regretful enablers struggling fruitlessly toward the light.
But for Donald Trump’s Republican Party, that light is fading fast.
Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, twice-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics.