Press: Trump: A party of one

Press: Trump: A party of one
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Former President Abraham Lincoln is celebrated for the soaring prose of his Gettysburg Address and his speech at his second inauguration. But he uttered some of his most famous words before he became president. 

On June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Ill., upon accepting the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, he warned: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”


Watching the chaos within the Republican Party today — is it any longer his party? — Lincoln might well say: “I believe this party cannot endure, permanently, half Trump and half never Trump.”

There is, in fact, not one Republican Party today. There are two Republican parties. There is presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE, and then there is everybody else.

Trump does, indeed, stand alone. He listens to no one. He answers to no one. He mocks or simply ignores Republican Party leaders. He scorns long-held party doctrine on the minimum wage, same-sex marriage, trade deals, healthcare and maybe even abortion. He rejects the Republican National Committee’s recommendation to reach out to Hispanics and alienates them instead. In no way except his New York voter registration form is Trump a Republican. 

This puts every other Republican, especially every Republican member of Congress, in quite a pickle: To endorse or not to endorse? Even having to ask that question about the party’s de facto nominee is strange enough, but the contortions Republicans have twisted themselves into trying to deal with the controversial billionaire are downright bizarre.

For now, Republicans are divided into three camps over Trump: those who have already endorsed him; those who say they’ll never endorse him; and those who say they “kinda, sorta” endorse, but only with a variety of conditions.

Yes, there’s a handful of Republicans who’ve actually said they’ll vote for Trump, but even they are split into factions. A tiny few, like Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE of Alabama, give their enthusiastic support. Others, like Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report The Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump Juan Williams: Obama's dire warnings about right-wing media MORE of Arizona, admit they don’t like Trump, but say the will of primary voters must be respected. Still others, led by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.), call Trump a textbook racist, but insist he’s still better than Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's Valadao unseats Cox in election rematch MORE.

In the middle are those who are, well, still in the middle. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism MORE of Maine hasn’t endorsed yet, but she might. Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' MORE of Tennessee has endorsed but is waiting for Trump to be more presidential. Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE of New Hampshire says she will vote for Trump but has not actually “endorsed him.” Texas Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report Top GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results MORE has taken perhaps the most creative approach, telling reporters that, while he endorses his party’s nominee, he will not talk about him until after the November election.

And then there are those who have already crossed the Rubicon to Never Trump Land, including Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report Profiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race MORE (Ariz.), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Let's give thanks to Republican defenders of democracy MORE (S.C.), Jeb Bush and former Presidents George W. and George H. W. Bush. They won’t vote for Trump. They won’t vote for Clinton. Apparently they just won’t vote.

For his part, Trump doesn’t seem worried about hopelessly dividing the Republican Party. In essence, he told Republican critics this week to shut up: “Don’t talk. Please, be quiet.” Because, after all, the Republican Party, “C’est moi.”

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”