Calling All Mugwumps to Desert Trump

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Songs Grover Cleveland's Presidential Election 1888
Songs Grover Cleveland’s Presidential Election 1888

Seattle    The day’s papers told the story of Donald Trump’s self-inflected political barn burning pretty well. Here’s a sampling:

  • From Steven Law, a Mitch McConnell acolyte now running Crossroads America PAC: “The Republican Party is caught in a theater fire; people are running to different exits as fast as they can.”
  • From comedian Jena Friedman: “If only we could gauge American misogyny what percentage of American democracy would rather have a tweeting asteroid crash into American democracy than a woman leading.”

And, that’s about as nice as it gets. A Republican strategist, Steve Schmidt, commenting on MSNBC before the debates mourned the fact that we have never had a debate where there has to be a warning that the content was not going to be acceptable for children because it was going to be so X-rated. All reports indicate it was, if anything, worse.

Republican elected officials deserted Trump in droves over the weekend. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who has led the two-handed vacillator caucus in Congress as he chides Trump for bad behavior and then still “stands by his man,” found himself having to withdraw an invitation to Trump to campaign with him in his home district in Wisconsin. Senator McCain was finally clear that Trump would not have his vote. Women Republican Senators from New Hampshire and Nebraska jumped off the train. Utah legislators were calling for Mike Pence, the VP running mate, to step into the first chair.

None of that is going to happen. Trump is going down with this ship, and might take the whole Republican ship to the bottom of the sea. It seems like it is time for a revival of the Mugwumps.

In 1884, Republicans elites, moralists, and businessmen, calling themselves Mugwumps, deserted the Republican nominee in that contest, James G. Blaine of Maine, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, to support Grover Cleveland, the Governor of New York, for election. The reasons they did so were concerns about reports of Blaine’s corruption and his ambition. Let me know when anything sounds familiar? Cleveland went on to win the 1884 election, lose the 1888 election, and in a rare and little remembered comeback, win both the 1892 election and a second term in the 1896 election, being one of the few three term Presidents ever, and the only one in history to win non-consecutive terms. None of which is to say that he was great shakes, since he also was famous for intervention in the Pullman Strike, had some questionable moral issues of his own, and presided over a dismantling of much of the Populist movement, but we’re talking about the Mugwumps, and now should be their time.

With so many Republicans running for the exits, how could it be so hard for some Republican so-called leaders to jump to the front of that line, if for no other reason to try and save some of their gang with some late efforts at a kind of courage even as most still hide in fear of offending Trump and what’s left of his base.