“Physician, heal yourself!”
Those familiar with the Bible passage (Luke 4:23) know the quote is from a story about Jesus returning to Nazareth, where word had spread about miracles he performed in another city. Although we’re using it mostly out of context here, it seems an apt phrase when reflecting on last week’s rather bizarre string of episodes erupting from Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign for president.
We won’t recount the entire week – anyone paying attention to the race has heard it all by now – but it remains startling to consider incidents range from the candidate’s false claims about a video shown on Iranian TV, to his apparent bullying of a crying baby at one of his rallies (an incident later walked back as a joke). Some stunned spectators have used the word “surreal” to describe the events of the last week, and this despite the fact that these occurred in front of live TV cameras and microphones.
For anyone who did miss the events, it’s all there online for viewing on archived video and audio clips.
The way we see it, it is not Donald Trump who emerged most damaged by the fallout, nor his campaign, but Republican voters. We find it hard to imagine that Republicans here in South Carolina and nationwide envisioned a standard bearer who would become incrementally less competitive before the confetti was even swept up after the GOP national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, ended less than a month ago.
Yet, it appeared that Trump squandered nearly every opportunity to capitalize on opportunities to undercut momentum for his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. For example, after Clinton gave a widely criticized response to a question from a Fox News interviewer two Sundays ago – she’s been accused of blatantly lying with her answer – Trump zeroed in on a number of other targets instead. The result was more self-inflicted wounds to his campaign. He even left himself open to an easy jab from President Obama after complaining the this election, which is still about three months away, is “rigged.” That complaint could be interpreted as a preemptive strike by someone who either doesn’t believe he can win or, worse, doesn’t want to win.
These repeated unforced errors have prominent Republicans worried not only about their party’s chances to re-take the White House this year, but also about their majority in Congress. There has even been talk about an “intervention.” Some of the older Baby Boomers who remember the drama of the 1964 and 1968 elections say those incidents, perhaps unprecedented at the time, pale in comparison. It has reached the point that well known Republicans with established conservative bonafides, including former members of the Reagan and George H.W. and George W. Bush administrations, have publicly pledged their vote on Nov. 8 to Clinton.
This is astonishing and it is why we are asking Republican voters – or anyone else who does not want to vote for Clinton – to take a stand. Add your voice to the growing cacophony of voices calling for Trump to resign from the race. Multiple media sources have reported that if Trump steps aside, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee can convene and elect a new candidate. Presumably, Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, would get top consideration.
We do not suggest this lightly. The idea of not allowing primary voters who democratically chose their party’s candidate the opportunity to vote for him in the general election is abhorrent. What’s worse, however, is the thought of another three months of the spectacle Trump’s campaign has become leading into a landslide Clinton victory after a race that was anything but competitive.
Clinton may be pulling away in polls after last week, but the lead is not insurmountable for a Republican candidate who is in it to win it. Clinton as a candidate has many vulnerabilities, if only her opponent would take advantage of them. It is not too late to make this an actual contest. But Trump needs to do the right thing and resign to allow it to happen. If you agree, call on his campaign and tell them how you feel.
American voters should have a viable choice on election day.