Republicans have to let Donald Trump lose if they want victory

Watching Republicans walk off a proverbial cliff is stunning and stupefying at the same time. It is stunning because of their inability to appreciate the future ramifications of their current victories. It is also stupefying because of the national shifts that could transform the party for the worse. There is no real plan from Republicans in Congress, other than to distract from the scandals and dismiss the cries from inside their political house.

The lore of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE might be that of a survivor who broke every rule imaginable while managing to avoid removal. But to the majority of voters, he is an uninformed, unprepared, and unsteady leader in the midst of our historic crisis. Republicans in Congress are slowly starting to say publicly what many have said privately to me for years. “He is a sinking ship that is going to bring the whole crew down if we do nothing about it.”

Yet Republicans in Congress continue to do nothing about this. Symbolic gestures such as wearing masks despite erratic action from the president or pushing back on his calls to delay an election that few people think he can win come by every so often. However, the courage and criticism that many had expected in the wake of terrible numbers have failed to surface in any substantial fashion within the party in the recent months.

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Instead, after record unemployment, atrocious death totals, and the kind of behavior reserved for cartoon characters, Republicans have stunningly and stupefyingly decided to stick with the president in their decision that voters will not forgive and forget. Make no mistake, voters are angry. More than 160,000 families will be without a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, or a friend on this Labor Day. Because of the failed White House response to the coronavirus, an estimated 200,000 families will set one less dinner out at Thanksgiving. This was an absolutely avoidable tragedy.

While the campaign of the president would like Republicans to believe it, this election is not like 2016. As some forecasters have noted, Joe Biden is polling better than Hillary Clinton at her peak. There is no magic rabbit for Trump to pull out of his oversize suit and change his political fortunes. The president and the party which he calls home are headed toward a decisive defeat. Republicans are so desperate they have even enlisted the celebrity in the midst of a mental breakdown to drain voters from Biden.

Rather than admit that they overplayed their hand and allowed the cultish character of Trump to take hold of the party, Republicans use diversionary tactics that are simply destined to further turn away suburban women and minorities, the same people who handed Democrats control of the House two years ago. The 2018 midterm election was not some outlier.

It was a warning to the party of Abraham Lincoln. The country is not better off with the outsider candidate from New York as our leader. It has instead become much worse off. Racial divisions are increasing, the economy has been cratering, and faith in institutions is at historic lows. If the president wants America to resemble Russia, his mission was a success. For the life of me, I do not understand why Republicans have allowed this to happen, especially those in the Senate who face election every six years.

If Republicans want to win, they must first lose. It is the only way to shake the stench of the last four years. Manifesting unyielding loyalty to the man whose loyalty is simply to himself seems to me nothing short of a political offense. Much like the response to the coronavirus, things did not have to be this bad for the party. Voters might forgive Republicans for this craven power grab. But what they will not forgive and not forget is their doubling down on this terrible behavior to back the president at all costs.

Walking themselves off a cliff is one thing. Walking the country off a cliff is another. Pain in this election for gain in the future is the only strategy that allows Republicans to come out of this era with their party standing. It will not be pretty, however, it is absolutely necessary to remain alive.

Michael Starr Hopkins is the founder of Northern Starr Strategies and the host of “The Starr Report” podcast. Follow his updates @TheOnlyHonest.