It’s time for Republican leaders to consider a negotiated endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
Barring a Wikileaks revelation showing Clinton to be a secret member of ISIS, she seems to be on a glide path to the White House. Instead of Donald Trump attempting to expand his base since securing the Republican nomination, he is politically self-immolating on a national stage. Trump apologists keep saying he will soon change course. But the only way for Trump to change course is to change who he is. That’s not going to happen.
Meanwhile, Trump keeps humiliating the Republican bigwigs who reluctantly endorsed him, be it by attacking the parents of a fallen U.S. soldier or refusing to immediately reciprocate their endorsements of him.
Why do Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans continue to allow Trump to sap their dignity, especially as it becomes increasingly clear he is going to lose? And even if he did win, what would there be to celebrate? Trump stands against so much of what conservatives have been fighting for since Ronald Reagan. (RELATED: Hillary Is Preferable To Trump Just Like Malaria Is Preferable To Ebola)
So what to do? The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza recently posed an interesting question on Twitter.
“What if Hillary offered Republicans one SCOTUS pick? Would that open the floodgates for skeptical Republicans to rescind support for Trump,” he asked.
Why not go one step further? Given that Trump is on track to lose and given that his presidency might very well be worse for the country and conservatism than Hillary’s anyway, why don’t Republican lawmakers band together and see if they can come to some sort of deal with Hillary?
More precisely, top Republican and conservative leaders should band together and offer Hillary a deal to rescind their endorsements of Trump and endorse her in exchange for some policy concessions.
What would a possible deal look like, you ask?
In exchange for an endorsement, Hillary might promise Republicans the right to choose whom she nominates to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. She should also be pushed to agree to some entitlement reform, perhaps in the form of Simpson-Bowles (not the best fix to our entitlement crisis, but better than anything Republicans can hope for when even the Republican presidential nominee rejects the need for entitlement reform). Maybe Republicans could even get her to commit to putting together a bi-partisan (or non-partisan) national security team to include widely respected figures like former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and retired Gen. James Mattis.
In addition to a public endorsement, the Republican legislators might agree to do everything they can to push through a Gang of Eight-style immigration bill if Hillary is elected. They might also promise to do their best to get her an up-or-down vote on any Supreme Court nominations she makes during her first term. If she demands it, they even agree to help her achieve a federal minimum wage increase.
This wouldn’t be a bad deal. In fact, it would be a pretty damn good deal given where the Republican Party finds itself.
Ideally, the Republican delegation would include a wide range of respected Republicans and conservatives from both the establishment and anti-establishment, but for it to matter to Hillary, it must also definitely include Republican congressional leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (and as many other members of Congress as possible) who would actually be in a position of fulfill the commitments of a deal.
The real question isn’t whether such a deal would be good for Republicans given their current circumstances, but why Hillary Clinton would even contemplate such a deal at this point? Every day, Trump seems to do something new to ensure he will lose in a landslide, and possibly take the Republican Senate and House with him. As the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg recently observed, he is not so much running a national campaign as a national speaking tour.
Given all this, Hillary might say, “no dice. I am on track to win this election with possibly a Democratic Senate and even a Democratic House. I don’t need to come to any accommodation. Thanks, but no thanks.”
But there are a couple reasons why Clinton might be inclined to come to an agreement. For starters, while Trump looks like he is tanking, you can never be so sure. A deal would make it more likely Hillary wins the White House, something she cares more about than any policy initiative.
Beyond that, a deal could be good for Hillary’s presidential legacy. If she can enlist Republican support in achieving some of her big policy goals before she is even sworn in, why not take it? Even the entitlement reform plank is something deep down she must know is necessary. History would remember her fondly for breaking from party orthodoxy to achieve something important for the country.
No matter who wins in November, conservatives have very little to look forward to politically over the next four years. A deal like this, fanciful as it may appear, would temper the pain.