If you’re a prominent Republican who takes issue with Trump but you’re so scared that you’ll upset your base, what should you do? Sen. John Cornyn has embraced a cowardly exit ramp, and he’s lighting the way for his GOP colleagues to follow.
Cornyn’s path is perfect for Republicans who have wished to jump off the Trump train but were afraid it would require having to criticize the oaf and suffer consequences. For Republicans who are more interested in keeping their job than saying what they think or standing up for what’s right, Cornyn has a solution: make it all about electability.
In a call with reporters on Thursday, Cornyn complained that “President Trump’s time has passed him by and what’s the most important thing to me is we have a candidate who can actually win.” Cornyn then insisted that Republicans “need to come up with an alternative.”
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to support a candidate whom you think can win an election. So, when Cornyn tells reporters that “I’ve been through quite a few elections in my life. And there’s no prize for coming in second. In other words, losing” and “Unless you can win an election, you don’t get to govern your priorities,” he appears to sound like the voice of reason.
The problem is that Cornyn is trying to move on from Trump by framing it to be necessary as a matter of political pragmatism. Shortly after Donald Trump’s infamous CNN town hall, Cornyn told the network he was “happy to let the process play out” during the primaries. But just a week later, Cornyn has suddenly decided it’s time to ditch Trump — not based on principle but on his belief that Trump can’t win.
Presumably, if Cornyn thought Trump could win, he wouldn’t hesitate to support him. Apparently irrelevant are the fact Trump was twice impeached, inspired a deadly insurrection against the United States, and is now getting hit with indictments, a sexual abuse verdict, and more. To quote Cornyn, “I just want to win.” (Even though Cornyn is only criticizing Trump’s electability, the insult was apparently grave enough for Trump spokesman Steven Cheung to fire back by labeling Cornyn as part of the “deep state.”)
Like many Republicans in government these days, Cornyn is showing he cares about attaching himself to whoever and whatever might win. This is not how nations make progress, and it’s not a way to run an enlightened democracy. Cornyn’s cravenness is no shocker — it’s emblematic of his rotting Republican Party.