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With the violent incidents at Trump’s recent rallies and the violent rhetoric he’s employed unlikely to abate, GOP establishment figureheads have softly denounced Trump for the outbursts—and have been sure to put blame on the protesters, too.

Paul Ryan had to say this:

“I’d make two points about this violence and these rallies: First, there’s obviously an effort by some on the left to shut down these rallies and to stir unrest. We should never condone that. We have a long history of peaceful protest, but creating this kind of drama isn’t good for anybody, and it’s unacceptable,” Ryan began.

“At the same time, I think the candidates need to take responsibility for the environment at their events. There is never an excuse for condoning violence, or even a culture that presupposes it,” he said.

And this video of Marco Rubio has gone viral in the last few days:

He’s completely demoralized here. Hard to tell if it’s because he doesn’t have a script to read from or if he’s feeling a twinge of regret. But he does the thing all other GOPers do when they half-heartedly denounce the violence: they blame the protesters and say Trump bears some responsibility. Sometimes they even blame Obama! But the one thing they never, ever do is blame Trump’s supporters who act violently for their own violence.

Perhaps it’s some sly attempt to retain Trump’s voters should anyone but Trump get the nomination. Truth be told, that would happen either way, but this seems more like a calculated move not to alienate Trump supporters more than has been done.

Only that doesn’t make sense as a strategy. Not that it can’t work—whether it can work is irrelevant. What doesn’t make sense is why the GOP wants to keep these people under their wing when they are the exact reason this splintering is happening in the first place.

The Tea Party movement from a few years ago was co-opted by the Republicans when Fox News ran to their support in opposition to Occupy Wall Street. That marriage obviously didn’t end well, as two of its starlets—Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio—are now running for President. Rubio, having flipped allegiance to the establishment, has been labeled turncoat by Tea Party faithfuls. Ted Cruz, while still being popular amongst that movement (though universally despised in the senate), has been denounced by a tea party leader for speaking out against Trump. Both Rubio and Cruz are far-right extremists, and yet neither of them are good enough for the fringe—which is large enough, apparently, that it isn’t so fringey.

So if those right-wing voters, once adopted by the Republicans, produced politicians such as Cruz and Rubio—easily among the furthest of the far-right—and neither of them is any longer good enough for the Tea Party and other like-minded fringe conservatives, why would the GOP try once again to bring them back in? If these people violently and unapologetically support Trump, and Trump—a crazy, far-right nutjob—is a result of the GOP adopting the Tea Party and not following through on their promises, and the GOP has no intention of fulfilling any of Trump’s promises, what can they expect from adopting an even crazier version of Tea Partiers?

I know they won’t, but the GOP should not only denounce Trump, but denounce his supporters, too. I don’t mean calling all of them racists, because they’re not, but they should make it clear that supporting Trump in any capacity means they endorse the darker elements of it, whether they like it or not.

I live in the South. Not the deep South, but the South nonetheless. Unsurprisingly, I know a lot of conservatives, and not one of them who isn’t a complete idiot is totally dismayed by this entire election. They’re embarrassed by Trump, think he’s a megalomaniac and a danger. Disavowing Trump supporters isn’t a strategy to stop Trump, per se. It’s a strategy to show the rest of the world they have at least one last shred of dignity. Based on their behavior so far, I don’t think they do.

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