The Fallout Surrounding the ‘October Surprise’

Recent events surrounding the presidential election have made the “October surprise” crystal clear: in this election cycle, the Republican Party is a sinking ship, and only the Trump campaign and its supporters believe it’s a submarine. With the release of a 2005 audio tape, Donald’s character and campaign hit a new low, a bombshell event that even he cannot recover from. Even worse than the tape is the fallout that followed.

More than 160 Republicans have seized the opportunity to drop their shaky support of Trump’s candidacy. Members of Congress, statewide elected officials, candidates and former elected officials have abandoned all hope. Outside of the political realm, voters flocked away from Trump after this revelation, giving Clinton a 10-point lead in new polls. The Trump camp responded in two very inept ways.

First, Trump made an apology video, where instead of actually apologizing, he acknowledged the video was bad and pivoted to “I care about the issues” and attacks on Bill Clinton’s past. Trump cared so deeply about the issues that he held a press conference with the former president’s accusers moments before the second debate. (As a reminder, Bill Clinton is not running for president and voters are sick and tired of hearing about his sex scandals.)

Overall, this was an egregiously bad strategy from the Trump campaign. His supporters, on the other hand, say that what Trump said 11 years ago shouldn’t matter now. They then point to Bill Clinton’s scandals of over 20 years ago. At this point, Trump supporters also take any criticism of Trump as praise and love for Hillary Clinton. Questioning the character and temperament of Trump and still disliking Clinton for her policies and scandals are not mutually exclusive. Oddly enough, the ability to hold both opinions exists. Conservatives who were not sold on Trump, who were reluctantly supporting him out of necessity, have been flocking away from voting altogether because of situations like this.

Second, the Trump camp immediately started attacking Republicans who couldn’t set aside their morals and values anymore. Trump personally attacked Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, not once, not twice, but three times. Trump and his supporters must have forgotten the part where the President must work with the Speaker of the House. They are fuming at President Obama for his executive orders, but consistently attack the leaders of the legislature, the only other viable option for federal policy. They often forget that Newt Gingrich, former Speaker and top Trump surrogate, worked with Bill Clinton to establish the “Contract With America.” They also forget when attacking once Tea Party icon Speaker Ryan as ‘establishment’, that he is the only person the House could agree on after forcing establishment John Boehner out.

Trump’s remarks and behavior further jeopardize the Republican majorities in Congress– something he could never succeed without. While the Trump camp keeps pouring gasoline on already fiery House and Senate races, Hillary Clinton has an 80+% chance of winning in November. This means when the polls close on Nov. 8,  America could likely hear the words ‘President- elect Hillary Clinton’, ‘Speaker Pelosi’, ‘Senate Majority Leader Schumer’ and even ‘Senators-elect Kander, Feingold, Strickland, and Bayh.’ The only people responsible are those voters who could never be satisfied, who would never listen to reason, and who would never consider working across the aisle (or even within their own party).

Just as guilty is the party leadership: Reince Priebus, Sharon Day, and those who had the chance to prevent a second Clinton era by stopping Trump. It would have been easy as the Clinton camp was literally scared of any Republican except for Donald Trump. (They were especially scared of Marco Rubio.) Yet Trump walked out of the primaries, never winning a clear majority in any state until nearly all other candidates had dropped. After the primaries were finished, he never even received a majority of all Republican primary voters.

Many people can understand the anger that Donald Trump embodies. We have a $20 trillion debt, a broken immigration system, high racial tensions, shattered schools, and so on. However, Donald Trump is not the end-all be-all he promises to be. With his past comments and blatant ignorance towards actual policy positions or knowledge of how the government actually works, there is no way, if elected, that his administration would survive four years. Instead, we will have to work to rebuild the Republican Party and refocus ourselves on limited government, personal liberties, lower taxes, and a stronger tomorrow.

Whether your candidate wins or loses, whether we keep our majorities in Congress or not, whether or not all seems to be lost, our work will start on Nov. 9. The conservative movement depends on you.

Author’s Note: This article does not represent the views of any of the organizations I belong to, nor does it represent the views of my employers. If you agreed with this article, check out Evan McMullin.

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