George P. Bush learns the GOP's Trump lesson the hard way

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George P. Bush.
George P. Bush. Illustrated | AP Images, iStock

In the end, George P. Bush was left with nothing.

Bush — the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and now a candidate for Texas attorney general — worked hard to get Donald Trump's endorsement for his race against the incumbent, Ken Paxton. He did so even though his family, which also includes former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and his father, famously disdains Trump and his influence on the party they once dominated. He did so even though Trump had insulted his own mother on Twitter in 2015. And he did so by selling merch amplifying the fact that Trump had pitted him against his family. All in all, it was a nakedly amoral performance: If you'll sell out your loved ones in pursuit of power, why on earth would voters trust your integrity in office?

It didn't work. On Monday night, Trump endorsed Paxton.

"Ken has my Complete and Total Endorsement for another term as Attorney General of Texas," the former president said in a statement. "He is a true Texan who will keep Texas safe — and will never let you down!"

What happened to Bush is a microcosm of the Republican Party's failures during the Trump era. GOP leaders prostrated themselves before a cruel and coarse man in hopes of gaining power, only to emerge with their dignity and power diminished. The more the party has bound itself to Trump's grievances and lies over the years, the more it has lost the confidence of voters — surrendering the House of Representatives in 2018, then the Senate and the White House in 2020. Bush isn't even the only Republican to surrender their family loyalty to the former president: Trump insulted the wife of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and accused his father of participating in JFK's assassination, but Cruz remains doggedly loyal. It's both ominous and pathetic.

Yet Republicans continue to follow Trump's lead. What — besides feeding his ego — have they accomplished? "I can tell you the president enjoys the prospect of knowing how much it kills Jeb that his son has to bend the knee and kiss the ring," a source told Politico in May. "Who's your daddy? Trump loves that." George P. Bush learned the hard way you lose more than you gain by throwing yourself at Trump's feet. We're still waiting for the Republican Party to do the same.

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