When Donald Trump refused to agree to support the eventual Republican Party nominee for president during the first debate, that move upset the Republican Party establishment. After all, many worried that, given Trump’s current popularity in the polls, he could end up bolting the party and siphoning away enough voters to lead to a Democratic victory in 2016.
As such, many state parties, including Virginia, considered making each candidate sign such a pledge in order to be included as a choice on their primary ballot. With the deadline to appear on the “first in the south” South Carolina primary approaching, after some tough decisions, or perhaps merely theatrics, Donald Trump ended up signing the pledge.
If case you haven’t read it, here is the text of the pledge:
I (candidate’s name), affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is.
I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.
Think about this pledge for a moment if you will. It doesn’t pledge any of the Republican candidates to a certain set of principles. It doesn’t even pledge the candidates to uphold the Republican Party platform. Instead, it encourages unquestioning allegiance to the GOP and whomever ends up being their standard bearer.
The current field of Republican candidates appeal to different and diverse groups of voters, ones that increasingly don’t have much in common. Are you telling me neoconservatives, like Lindsey Graham, will support a libertarian nominee? Will constitutional conservatives, like Rand Paul, support a neoconservative nominee? Will social conservatives, like Mike Huckabee, support a pro-choice candidate like George Pataki? Will a candidate who has railed against the establishment, like Ted Cruz, end up supporting the establishment choice Jeb Bush? Does it matter to any of them if their ideological opposition is elected?
Along those same lines, does it matter to you if the Republican nominee is a liberal… or a conservative… or a libertarian…or perhaps an authoritarian? Is it important if he or she will work to shrink the size of the federal government…or expand it? Or are you happy so long as a Republican is elected over a Democrat regardless of his or her positions?
When it comes down to it, do principles guide Republican politicians? Or, like the Mafia, does blind and unquestioning support for the party and their candidates hold the greatest value? As long as people like Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell have a willing accomplice in the presidency, is that all that truly matters to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and the Republican Party?
Will the Republican Party win the presidency in 2016 or will it fall for the third election in a row? Although voters gave the party control of both Houses of Congress, given the GOP’s repeated failures to accomplish anything of substance, the 2014 election is a decision that more and more citizens are coming to regret. According to Quinnipac, support for the Republicans in Congress has reached a six year low, with a 12% favorability rating and 81% disapproval.
Given this foolish pledge that the Republican Party has forced upon all of its potential nominees, one has to wonder if the party cares about anything other than gaining power for itself? And, if principles don’t really matter, why would the American people send a Republican to the White House ever again other than as a protest to express disapproval of the Democratic Party?