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When 2016 is over, the GOP will pretend trump never existed...

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The Plum LineOpinion
When 2016 is over, the GOP will pretend Donald Trump never existed
By Paul Waldman October 5
The vice-presidential debate, in three minutes Embed Share
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Here are key moments from the face-off between Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence and Democratic rival Tim Kaine at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

At Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate, in which Mike Pence bravely denied that Donald Trump had ever said any of the many appalling and offensive things everyone knows he said (and for which there iscopious video evidence), we got a hint of what will happen to the Republican Party once this election is over, and how it will understand everything it has been through over the past couple of years.

To put it simply: There will be no reckoning with what Republicans have done. There will be no accountability, no comeuppance, no penitence, no purges, no grappling with how they sold their souls to the most despicable and dangerous presidential candidate in modern history. Heads will not hang in shame, fingers will not point at the guilty, excuses will be neither demanded nor offered. Once Trump loses, the entire GOP will join hands and wade together into the baptismal waters of a new day and emerge clean and pure, their sins washed away by a collective agreement to pretend the whole thing never happened.

If Trump does lose, we’ve assumed there will have to be some serious soul-searching on the right, and there will be — but it will be circumscribed in this critical way. They’ll wonder and argue about how they can reach out to minority voters, or how they might appeal to the young, or what combination of strategies might put the battleground states they keep losing back in play. But one thing they won’t do is hold themselves to account for standing behind Trump.

They all know who he is — that he’s an ignoramus, that he’s a liar, that he’s a bigot, that he’s a vulgar sexist, that he’s a con man who ropes ordinary people into scams and cheats the small-business people who do work for him, that he has the attention span and impulse control of a toddler, and that making him the most powerful human being on earth is not just a bad idea but outright lunacy. But each for their own reasons, they lined up behind him. His stench will be on all of them, so the best thing for them will be to say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about — I don’t smell anything.”

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If Mike Pence can get up in front of 50 million people and deny that Trump ever praised Vladimir Putin or said women should be punished for getting abortions, or even say that Trump isn’t the one running a campaign of insults, how hard will it be for other Republicans to act like there was nothing unusual about their party’s 2016 nominee and nothing they have to distance themselves from?

That’s not to say there haven’t been dissenters. You can find an elected official here or there, such as Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.), who proclaimed that they’d never support Trump. But the other Republicans who did the same were those without much to lose, such as writers and pundits whose livelihoods aren’t dependent on loyalty to the party or retired officials no longer interested in another run for office or an administration position. And of course even within the party, there are those who have been less and more enthusiastic about Trump. Mitch McConnell has refused to answer questions about his party’s nominee for president; Paul Ryan struggles to find ways to gently criticize him for his latest odious statement while not being too harsh lest other Republicans become displeased; candidates such as Kelly Ayotte contort themselves to explain why they support Trump yet aren’t blind to what a loathsome human being he is. But in the end, they all arrive at the same place.

Or look at Trump’s primary opponents. One after another, those who had who had called Trump a dire threat to to their party and the republic lined up to endorse him. Even Ted Cruz, who in preparation for his 2020 presidential bid was positioning himself as the One Honest Man who opposed Trump, came around in the end as well.

So when the election is over, just about all Republicans will share an incentive to follow the same path: pretend that Trump and Trumpism never happened, or that it was no different from what we’ve seen in any other election. That goes for Republican voters too. There won’t be hard-fought primary campaigns pitting anti-Trump candidates against incumbents who had supported the nominee. And in 2020, the debates between the party’s presidential contenders won’t devolve into arguments about who was behind Trump and who wasn’t, or who embodies the cleanest break with what Trump represented. They’ll all be in the same boat — and they’ll know they don’t want to alienate all those angry Trump voters, whose anger will not have abated. Their main point of contention will be whose hatred of Hillary Clinton burns the hottest.

For their part, Democrats will try to remind voters of who and what Republicans stood for in 2016. Those memories won’t disappear, particularly among the minorities and women who have been such special targets of Trump’s contempt. But against this, Republicans will present a united front of denial. And as hard as it may be to believe right now, there will come a time when Donald Trump is not the subject of endless news coverage every day. As time passes and new issues consume our politics, Trump will become an amusing character out of a movie whose details the public is slowly forgetting. It may not be enough to enable the GOP to take back the White House, but they’ll find pretending that 2016 never really happened easier than you’d think.



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They aren't waiting for 2016 to be over. Hell of a prediction when it is already taking place since he earned the nomination at the convention. When nothing stays the same now, why wait for reality to catch up reliving the past over and over again expecting different results socially as genetically nobody lives forever as displaced now when here.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I say replace all republicans with green party thinkers and 90% of democrats with new PDA democrats each voting cycle.


Why do we americans vote in the rich which are supported by the rich to make decisions for the entire upper middle class, middle class and low income? Hey middle class republicans you too are getting duped make no mistake about it.


Wealthy Incumbents, famous political names say NO to the 99%, live in glass houses and digest corrupt money.


Why do we americans vote in the rich which are supported by the rich to make decisions for the entire middle class and low income?


Is it possible we're not getting the most ethical choices on the block?


Too many of the rich want to destroy the middle class. They have sent tens of millions of middle class jobs abroad with no job replacement in sight.


Isn't their something wrong with this picture?


Ask yourself why do we voters tend to vote for the largest spending candidates?




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