Meanwhile, Trump has not grown into his new job. He has not adopted the stated values of the party, or the country for the matter. It is the party that has accommodated his contemptible character as he drags it, and the nation, into a chasm of coarseness, isolation, and weakness.
In 1964, Republicans enthusiastically responded as Reagan declared it “a time for choosing.” But in this moment, the Republican time for choosing has long passed. It is now a time for fighting: A time to fight for the soul of the party and the future of our country.
If the GOP is to be saved, it will require unconditional rejection of Trump, Bannon, Moore, and others, such as nativist Congressman Steve King of Iowa. It will require a recommitment to timeless, American principles and ethical leadership.
Republican leaders cannot simply wait for the base to do this on its own because a portion of the base will leave, perhaps permanently, if they do. Leaders must lead. Appeasement has never been a winning strategy for good over evil. Only in the fight can good prevail.
If no one rises to lead the party on a principled foundation, it will be unable and unworthy to lead America in the future. As it shrinks in size, the party will likely become more extreme and opposed to the ideals, norms and institutions necessary for free society until it becomes wholly irrelevant.
Before Democrats bask in the glory of the GOP’s ongoing immolation, all should understand that this is not merely one party’s existential crisis. Democracy is most vibrant and secure when multiple parties compete while sharing commitment to liberty, equality, and truth. Without such competition, the left will be prone to unaccountability and an inverse extremism that could carry them further away from the people they represent as well.
Republican leaders’ tolerance of Trump gave us Roy Moore. They must now fight vigorously for the soul of the party or watch it die a destructive death in the years ahead.
For the sake of the nation, I hope they’ll choose the former even if the latter now seems all but destined.
Evan McMullin is a former CIA operative who ran for president in 2016 as an independent. He is the co-founder of @StandUpRepublic.