Editorial: Job No. 1 for GOP: Come together

The Detroit News

Republicans have one task this week in Cleveland: Finding unity. That sounds simple enough, but whether members of the party can band together at their national convention and beyond will have significant consequences come November. The presumptive presidential nominee can’t trump the GOP platform.

We get it. Donald Trump is hard to love. He is offensive and unpredictable, and has made it clear he doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks — even leaders of the Republican Party.

While some in the Republican establishment are offering their support to Trump with varying degrees of enthusiasm, many in the Never Trump movement may find it too far a leap to ever support the nominee.

After a failed last-ditch effort on Thursday to change party rules that could have freed delegates bound to Trump, he’s going to be leading the ticket, like it or not.

Trump’s not helping ease the tension.

“Anti-Trump people get crushed at Rules Committee,” his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, wrote on Twitter, following the vote. “It was never in doubt: Convention will honor will of people & nominate @realDonaldTrump.”

Such taunting is unfortunate at this critical point for the GOP. Trump this week should take it on himself to show Republicans he’s more than just a one-man reality show and that he gets the bigger picture.

Even if Trump isn’t up to tempering his message and demeanor, it remains essential that party members, including anti-Trump advocates, not let their distaste for him hinder their enthusiasm for the GOP and their commitment to supporting down-ballot candidates, including races for Congress and state houses. There is more at stake in this election than just the White House.

When asked about the potential of losing the GOP majority in the Senate, Trump told the New York Times he doesn’t mind being a “free agent.” Trump should care more than that, but regardless, others in the party should.

What’s at stake? The majorities in both chambers of Congress. In November, voters will choose who will fill 34 Senate seats — 24 of them held by Republicans — and all 435 House seats.

If Trump falters at the top of the ticket, it will be a challenge to keep Republican majorities.

The other challenge for Republicans is to clearly define what it means to be a Republican. Trump has taken a menu approach to the party’s principles, embracing some and discarding others.

But with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lurching further to the left, the GOP must stand strong behind its conservative principles.

The core values of the Republican Party still serve it and the country well: Individual freedom, limited government and entrepreneurship, to name a few.

In Cleveland this week, the GOP must make certain it unites behind those ideals, regardless of how divided its members may remain on Donald Trump.