Will Trump Inadvertently Make Us A Bipartisan Nation?

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Lanny Davis Former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton
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America has great divisions, exemplified by the red states and blue states on presidential election maps.

But ironically, thanks to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s willingness to insult and offend virtually everyone, there appears to be a growing chance that an unprecedented number of Republicans will decide to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president.

Here are three issues/reasons why.

First, Clinton and most Republicans reject Trump’s willingness to add as much as $30 trillion to the national debt, according to experts who have analyzed his tax and other proposals. They are repulsed by his boasts of being the “king of debt” and concerned about his statement that he wouldn’t mind if America defaulted on its debt.

Second, Clinton and most Republicans oppose Trump’s plan to retreat from our NATO allies, essentially a form of the “America First” isolationism that preceded World War II. There is bipartisan dismay at Trump’s praise of the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin and shock at his ignorance.

Third, Clinton and most Republicans believe in the politics of civility, not insult and abuse practiced by Trump.

Clinton was known for her collegiality bipartisan work with many Senate Republicans. In contrast, Trump has been consistently divisive and insulting. For example, he disparaged Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a war hero, because he had been “caught” and imprisoned as a prisoner of war. He challenged a federal judge’s objectivity because of his Mexican heritage. He attacked Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly, who had asked him a tough question, by declaring that she had “blood coming out of her eyes, coming out of her … wherever.”

Worst of all, Trump attacked Khizr Khan, father of a Muslim American soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004, after Khan criticized Trump during the Democratic convention for Trump’s proposed “temporary” ban on Muslim immigration. Then he mocked Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star mother, for her silence while her husband spoke, suggesting she was not “allowed” to speak. Ghazala Kahn subsequently explained her silence was due to her grief at memories of her slain son, whose photo was behind the podium.

In recent days, more and more prominent Republicans have joined both former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush; the last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and many other leading Republicans in refusing to endorse Trump.

Now there is evidence that many more Republicans will go further and say they will vote for Clinton. Last Tuesday, Republican Rep. Richard Hanna from upstate New York wrote in an op-ed that Trump “is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country. Secretary Clinton has issues that depending on where one stands can be viewed as great or small. But she stands and has stood for causes bigger than herself for a lifetime. … I will vote for Mrs. Clinton.”

On the same day, California’s Meg Whitman, a Hewlett-Packard executive and top Republican fundraiser, called Trump a “dishonest demagogue” and said that she, too, would vote for Clinton.

More Republicans are likely to do the same before November. They Republicans understand that not voting at all, or throwing their votes away on third-party candidates who can’t win, will not accomplish their ultimate objective: not only to defeat Trump, but to defeat him so decisively that his brand of hateful and demagogic politics will never gain the Republican nomination for generations to come.

So it is possible that Clinton will be elected with the help of such Republicans as well as Democrats and independents. And if that happens, maybe — just maybe — we can see Democrats join with Republicans in Congress to work with President Hillary Clinton on purple solutions and compromises to solve our problems.

In other words, maybe – just maybe – out of the horror of a possible Trump presidency could come something positive: the long-overdue spirit of bipartisanship in Washington that most Americans yearn for.

Lanny Davis is co-founder of both the Washington law firm Davis Goldberg Galper PLLC and Trident DMG, a strategic media firm specializing in crisis management. He served as special counsel to President Clinton in 1996-98 and is a regular columnist for The Hill newspaper. He has been a friend of Hillary Clinton since they were students at Yale Law School together in 1969-70.