To cut to the chase: Republican politicians and party leaders have two options and only two.
Option One) Risk supporting Trump on the grounds that you will get one or more reactionary appointments to the Supreme Court, all the while making the United States the laughing stock of the world (has it ever happened before that the leader of another country has announced publicly that one of our candidates makes him want to retch?).
Risk that re-election is more important to you and your party colleagues than promoting human decency, protecting a fragile planet, and taking responsibility for your part in permitting and feeding the growth of a confused, anger-torn society. Risk that a clearly unbalanced president might decide for nuclear war (it is not clear if he understands what nuclear weapons are or ever will) and possibly set off a hell that could mean the end of our species on this planet.
Risk reversing the momentum toward dealing realistically with the enormous threat and disaster already unfolding of climate change. Risk mocking the constitution and violating it in ways too numerous to include in this brief discussion. Risk drawing from most of the world even more hatred of, and exasperation with, this country and scorn for it which is already considerable.
Risk sanctioning, unleashing, and permitting increases in white supremacists, misogynists, gay and trans-haters, anti-Semites and other polarizing, hate-driven movements. Risk making deep and enduring enemies of the entire Muslim world, which accounts for about 1/6 of the people on Earth.
Risk making any effort at all to realize the sick joke of a wall between the US and Mexico to be paid for by Mexico. And more risks still. You can fill in the blanks.
Option Two) Renounce Trump, withdraw your support for him, admit that your party’s candidate selection process spun out of control (the head of your party could early on in the debate cycle have disallowed all insults and name-calling but did not).
Admit that our society is faced with something new in our history, which is a major party candidate who is completely unqualified in all ways to serve as president of the most powerful country in the world. Admit that your candidate for president is severely unbalanced mentally and emotionally and should seek professional help for his condition.
Admit that your candidate has the emotions and understanding of the world of a ten-year-old playground bully and admit that no country should have as its leader a ten year old bully trapped inside the body of a seventy-year-old man.
Announce to one and all that assuring right wing justices in the Supreme Court majority and your re-election is less important in every conceivable way than preserving the integrity of our planet and our nation.
Recognize that if you do choose option One, then if Trump is elected, the Republican Party will become so reviled as to end its history altogether. Realize if he is not elected, violence and havoc from Trump’s followers may follow.
Maybe, just maybe, it is time for a party that has built its base on racism, redistributing wealth upward from the 99 percent to the 1 percent, and trying to suppress the votes of people who will not vote for it is thereby explicitly anti-democratic as well as anti-Democratic and will go down in history as one of the greatest disasters to befall the United States and the world.
What do you choose? Option One or Option Two? You have no other choice.
Gordon Fellman, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies program, Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.