My Turn: GOP should leave Trump at the altar

  • Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Centerin Cincinnati on July 6. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 7/11/2016 9:00:13 PM

Have you ever had a friend who got engaged, and your private reaction was to hope they break it off before going through with the wedding? This is how I feel about the Republican Party’s announced intention to marry Donald Trump in Cleveland.

Maybe you never liked the guy to begin with. Maybe you just didn’t think he was the right person for your friend. You wondered, what does she see in him?

You watched the relationship turn serious with misgiving, then alarm. When you heard they got engaged, you couldn’t suppress a reflexive grimace. Your sense of dread outweighs the happiness you want to feel for your friend.

You catch yourself thinking, I hope they don’t decide to start a family right away.

You mention your reservations to some mutual friends and discover you’re not the only one who reacted to news of the engagement this way. They started living together and even that’s not going well. There have been several nasty public arguments about core values. They’ve started fighting about money. Fights about money are the No. 1 cause of divorce.

No, this marriage is not likely to end well, your fellow wedding guests privately agree. It may outlast a Kardashian marriage, but it’s still probably going to result in a messy divorce four months from now with lots of recriminations. Is it true he made his first three wives sign pre-nups? That’s never a good sign.

But what to do about it now? This is where the mutual friends disagree. The minister gives us a command: Speak now, or forever hold your peace. Some friends say we should bite our tongues and hope for the best. Others think someone should talk to her privately. Some go further. This marriage is going to be such a disaster, with too many innocent bystanders affected, to be passive. Actively trying to break up the wedding is in the best interests of the bride and wedding guests and is the responsible thing to do.

Yes, calling off a wedding is awkward. The Republican National Committee has hired a caterer and a DJ. They rented a place for the reception. They mailed out the invitations and put the announcement in the paper. The loyal groomsmen will go ballistic. Feelings will be hurt. Longtime friends may never speak to each other again.

But the embarrassment of canceling a doomed marriage before it is consummated is still better than going through with the ceremony. It’s preferable to lose a couple deposits than pay for the divorce and therapy later.

This is not a marriage only between two consenting adults. The Republican Party has millions of children from previous relationships. The most unlucky are candidates facing voters this fall. Most are, like me, longtime members of the party who share no ideological or temperamental DNA with the guy who is going to become our legal stepfather until the eventual divorce.

When it comes to Trump, most Republicans are choosing the path requiring the least courage and the least principle and saying nothing. This is what Reagan referred to as feeding the crocodile hoping it eats you last.

Other Republican leaders, most commendably former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey, are choosing to speak up, lest our silence be mistaken for endorsing this marriage as good for anyone involved. We are speaking candidly to the bride about her fiance’s personal and policy failings and why his history suggests he is ill suited to marriage. We’re saying he is unworthy of her. Don’t go through with it. Get out while you still can. Jilt him. Leave him at the altar.

If she doesn’t, one day she’ll wish she had.

(Fergus Cullen is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.)

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