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Should the party of Lincoln be leveled?

By Rich Lowry on

"Burn it down" is rarely a wise or prudent sentiment.

A cadre of Republican opponents of President Donald Trump is nonetheless calling for a purifying fire to sweep through the GOP in the fall, taking down as many Republican officeholders as possible.

Only this willy-nilly bloodletting will teach the party the hard lesson it needs to learn for accommodating Trump over the past four years. As a Soviet commissar once put it: "We must execute not only the guilty. Execution of the innocent will impress the masses even more."

These Never Trumpers, as my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru puts it, are becoming Never Republicans. Their ranks run from columnist George Will, to Charlie Sykes of the anti-Trump website The Bulwark, to the operatives of The Lincoln Project.

Their hoped-for GOP electoral apocalypse doesn't make sense on its own terms, and their advocacy for one bears all the hallmarks of this perfervid time in our politics -- it, too, is rageful and extreme, but satisfyingly emotive.

Let's stipulate that Republicans have often excused or looked past the inexcusable during Trump's presidency, and almost every Republican senator has a dimmer view of Trump than he or she will let on publicly. GOP officeholders have been especially loath to speak of the character defects that blight his presidency.

 

All of this deserves to be called out, but should the party of Lincoln be leveled?

The Never Republicans refuse to account for the practical calculations of practical politicians hoping, in difficult circumstances, to achieve practical results.

Was Mitch McConnell supposed to say after Trump's election, "I can't work with him," and, to borrow a phrase, burn down any chance of achieving anything constructive during a rare instance of unified Republican control of Washington?

McConnell obviously bites his tongue about the president all the time, but his main project has been working with the White House to confirm judges to the bench who are thoroughly committed to faithfully interpreting our laws and Constitution and will be doing their jobs when Trump is a distant memory.

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