Donald Trump has broken through every traditional political ceiling, which is as unprecedented as it is startling. His approach though has helped him secure support from over 14.5 million primary voters as well as endorsements from major party leaders including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and former presidential candidate and Senator John McCain. As a lifelong Democrat and the son of former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, watching Trump’s candidacy unfold has been nothing short of alarming and upsetting.
Today’s Republican Party is not the GOP of Ronald Reagan or of George H.W. Bush. Today’s Republican Party is clearly looking for a change and an opportunity to reinvent themselves to better reflect America’s rapidly changing electorate. However, Trump is not the solution. Now that he has all but officially secured the Republican Party nomination, Trump is widening the divide within his party more than ever at a time when he should be bringing everyone together as a united front. Many Republicans are refusing to endorse Trump or are walking back their endorsement, opting instead to abstain from voting altogether.
The most pressing question as we head into the general election is not what happens in November, but rather what does Trump’s candidacy mean, especially for the future of the Republican Party and of the United States of America?
Above all, Trump has demonstrated that the political ceilings that he has destroyed with his campaign – such as the behavioral expectations of a presidential candidate, alignment with the party’s ideology, and a comprehensive understanding of policy, to name a few – were already weak to begin with. In recent decades, the Republican Party has chipped away at these ceilings with their refusal to compromise and their hardened partisanship. Now, party leaders must find a way to move forward and redefine themselves, understanding that no matter what happens in the coming months, these political norms are forever broken.
As a nation, we need to understand that what unfolds in this race – driven so much by Trump’s unpredictability and coarse rhetoric – will become the face of the United States of America to the world, and will set an international precedent for how others proceed. For all of the changes of the last few decades, the United States still plays the dominant leadership role in our world, and people from every corner of the globe will undoubtedly be affected by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, and by what it says about our country, our values and our leadership.
As political instability, acts of terror, and ideological extremism continue to wreak havoc in other parts of the world, it is of the utmost importance that we have a president who understands the issues, knows the players and can defuse the threats that face all of us – which is why I’m proud to support Hillary Clinton.
Every vote cast in this election counts, and I encourage you to exercise your right to vote. But, before heading to the polls, I hope that if you choose to cast your vote for Trump, you will consider what that truly means for our country and how it will impact the future of the United States and the rest of the world. This summer, with Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, we can’t afford to wait until September to pay attention to how his candidacy has impacted the Republican Party and our nation.