For the 2016 election, I have a threshold issue. One which, if you answer incorrectly, will foreclose the possibility that I ever vote for you for any office, or respect you as a politician ever again:
Will you support Donald Trump for President?
Now, for me, this isn't a terribly tough choice. Nearly every candidate who I am inclined to support for any office would never dream of supporting the vile, racist demagogue who is poised to win the Republican nomination for President. For those on my side of the aisle, the question is flipped, ever so slightly to say "Will you oppose Donald Trump for President?" so as to close off the possibility of supporting a third-party candidate who would ultimately help Trump win. But that is a slim possibility here, and it's not what I'm writing about today.
In just under two weeks, Nebraska voters will go to the polls and vote for the Republican nominee for President. Ted Cruz is widely expected to do well here, though that's mostly based on demographic trends in similar states. Nate Cohn of the New York Times still rates it as Trump's worst state, even under the most optimistic of scenarios for Trump. But I've talked to pros on the ground here who aren't so sure that Cruz will win.
What has been interesting in the run-up to the Republican Primary in Nebraska is that there has been very little activity in terms of endorsements for President. Until yesterday's somewhat surprising announcement that State Sen. Beau McCoy endorsed Donald Trump, very few Nebraska Republicans have spoken up about who they support. Sen. Ben Sasse, as the most prominent face of the #NeverTrump movement, has made clear that he won't support Donald Trump for President, and voted for Ted Cruz, but stopped short of endorsing him. State Sen. John Murante is part of the official Cruz campaign in Nebraska. Gov. Pete Ricketts' parents launched a Super PAC to run ads against Trump, and Cruz endorsed Ricketts in his 2014 race for Governor, but Ricketts has not endorsed Cruz for President.
But the distinction is academic. Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. There isn't much of a question about that except among those who have been wishcasting all along in the face of ever-steeper odds. So the question becomes: If Donald Trump is the nominee, will you support him?
So far, only Sasse and former Gov. Kay Orr have been able to say, unequivocally, no. More than a few have said, if he wins the nomination, I will support him. (List of Nebraska Republicans Supporting Donald Trump). Including Sen. Deb Fischer, and both candidates challenging Rep. Brad Ashford in Nebraska's 2nd District.
I suspect we're going to see even more of these after Trump locks up the nomination, and I'm disappointed in all of them.
I recognize that it won't be an easy choice. Politicians don't want to get blamed for torpedoing their party's nominee by publicly saying they won't support him. Loyal Republican voters feel like they have to vote the party line, and many of them feel that no matter what happens, Hillary Clinton would be even worse.
I'm of a strong belief that the 2016 election is an either-or choice, and that voting third party is a half measure, but I'm also realistic in understanding that few Republicans are likely to go that far to stop Trump, when they've done so little to stop him in their own primary. In any case, I speak mostly of the politicians here.
Sitting on the fence, or pretending that Donald Trump is in any way an acceptable choice, demonstrates to me that you lack the judgment to be trusted with even the most basic decisions, and should not be trusted to represent anyone in any elected office. Over the next few months, I expect we're going to see a lot of Republican politicians who reluctantly support Donald Trump. They will be either genuine supporters of a proto-fascist demagogue or cowards. I suppose it's up to them which they would prefer.