Way back in olden times (2015), before the primaries, one of the best predictors of success for the presidential candidates was the number of endorsements they'd earned. At least, we all thought that was the best predictor, but then Donald Trump broke all the rules and there was no way to predict anything for a while.
Since then, endorsements have driven even deeper into Crazytown, with some Republicans defecting, others hung out to dry, a handful insisting that they don't want to be endorsed, and at least one making a low-speed escape from reporters in an RV. It's getting hard to know what endorsements even mean at this point, but they certainly have provided everyone with opportunities to behave like petulant teenagers.
Sidenote: I haven't watched a lot of episodes of Saved by the Bell, but surely there must've been one where somebody ran for student president and the power struggle turned all the friends against each other, right? I'm really hoping for a metaphor about the current race where politicians can be cast as Mark Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani Thiessen. (Jeb Bush would be Hayley Mills.)
A few newspapers, bless their crumpled little hearts, are still doing their best to endorse the politicians who they think are the most qualified. That's led to wacky outcomes like the Houston Chronicle switching from their old endorsement of Jeb Bush to a new endorsement of Hillary Clinton. It's an unusual move for the paper; it had endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 (mostly because they objected to Sarah Palin), but prior to that the last Democrat they liked was LBJ.
Aside from well-meaning editorial boards, most people seem to be using endorsements as cudgels in an arsenal against each other. As you'll recall, some Congressional leaders refused to give Trump their endorsements during the primaries, and now he's refusing to give them his. Donald might not remember that his pal Putin invaded the Ukraine, but he sure as hell remembers that Paul Ryan wasn't 100% cooperative: "I'm not there right now," is how Ryan explained his reluctance to endorse Trump back in May. And yesterday, Trump mocked Ryan by repeating that very same line: "I'm just not quite there yet" on endorsing Ryan in his own re-election bid.
Ryan's campaign fired back that they never even asked for dumb old Trump's endorsement, so there. Adding to the weirdness: a bunch of former Trump staffers have gone to work for Ryan's primary opponent, a kook named Paul Nehlen. When reporters tried to ask Nehlen about that, he scurried into his campaign RV, promising to be "right back." The RV then drove away. Could someone just check and make sure he wasn't kidnapped?
Elsewhere in the Republican party, unsettling billionaire Meg Whitman has decided that she'll not only endorse Hillary, she'll donate money to her. "I will vote for Hillary, I will talk to my Republican friends about helping her, and I will donate to her campaign and try to raise money for her," said Whitman. What's going on here? When she ran for governor of California, Whitman said she'd suspend environmental protections, opposed marriage equality, opposed legalizing pot, and fought with unions. Now she's a Democrat?
Then there's Richard Hanna, a Republican Representative from New York. He too is supporting Hillary now. "I think Trump is a national embarrassment," he said. "Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?"
Noooooo, definitely not, especially after Trump reportedly said he didn't see any reason not to use nuclear weapons. Eek.
But let's just cast our minds ahead a few years here — let's say that the Republicans completely implode, leaving the country with only a single dominant party. And that party, which is maybe still called the Democrat party or maybe called something else, is controlled by rich and powerful figures who no longer have to waste time appealing to voters because there's nobody else to vote for.
That seems maybe not so great after all.