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The Agony of the Republicans

WASHINGTON, DC – This is a grim time for America’s Republican Party. While most of the party’s rank-and-file members have embraced Donald Trump as their presidential nominee, Republican members of Congress are finding it hard to accept him as their standard-bearer. Nothing like this has ever happened in American politics.

It would be nice to believe that those Republicans who haven’t endorsed Trump (or have expressed misgivings) are acting on principle. And yet, while they may be concerned about his behavior and suitability for the job, most are more worried about his candidacy’s impact on their careers. They’re torn between their qualms about his inexperience, unpredictability, and vulgarity, and the fact that many of their constituents like him. Despite all the talk about Republican unity, only 11 of the party’s 54 senators have endorsed Trump. In the House, just 27 of 246 Republicans have done so.

Even if Trump hadn’t won the nomination fight, the Republicans’ control of the Senate would have been vulnerable this year. Twenty-four Republicans are up for re-election, an unusually high number, and at least ten are at risk of losing. Of that group, only six have endorsed Trump.

The main misgivings about Trump – among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike –are that he is not informed enough about the issues to be president and, even more worryingly, that he is abnormally self-absorbed, impulsive, and reckless. His lack of all compunction about using racism to advance his ambitions is no less a concern to his detractors, who worry that he is alienating large minority groups. Blaming the murder of 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, on Muslim immigrants, even though the shooter was born in Queens, New York, like Trump himself, is just the latest example of his tactics.