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 TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview 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 SessionsTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE of Alabama, give their enthusiastic support. Others, like Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCummings to lie in state at the Capitol Elizabeth Warren should concern Donald Trump 'bigly' Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show 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 RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.), call Trump a textbook racist, but insist he’s still better than Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJill Stein: 'I am not a Russian spy' Trump criticizes Clinton for suggesting Jill Stein was Russian asset Graham: I'm seeking to make Trump successful 'but not at all costs' MORE.

In the middle are those who are, well, still in the middle. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE of Maine hasn’t endorsed yet, but she might. Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong George Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid MORE of Tennessee has endorsed but is waiting for Trump to be more presidential. Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE of New Hampshire says she will vote for Trump but has not actually “endorsed him.” Texas Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Succession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head 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 FlakeTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment Are Senate Republicans certain that Trump can return to office? MORE (Ariz.), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamErdoğan got the best of Trump, experts warn Graham: I'm seeking to make Trump successful 'but not at all costs' The Memo: Trump's sea of troubles deepens 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.”