J Street at the RNC: Day Two – Ron Johnson Sides with Trump, and Against Diplomacy

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Ben Shnider
on July 20, 2016

J Street’s blog aims to reflect a range of voices. The opinions expressed in blog posts do not necessarily reflect the policies or view of J Street.              

Until just a few days ago, Senator Ron Johnson claimed that he was going to skip the Republican Convention to campaign in Wisconsin. He had clearly calculated that he stood to lose politically by publicly associating himself with Donald Trump’s exclusionary brand. After all, Senator Johnson has already tied himself in knots trying to distinguish between his “support” for Trump and any sort of “endorsement.”

But, in the end, Johnson just couldn’t help himself. He took to Donald Trump’s stage last night in Cleveland and proudly echoed Trump’s fear-mongering and visionless national security rhetoric to attack his opponent, JStreetPAC endorsee Russ Feingold. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise from one of the signatories of Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to the Ayatollah that sought to obstruct the diplomacy that has now blocked Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

But one thing we can all agree on is that Johnson had it right with his initial political intuition. Come November, those candidates who wed themselves to Donald Trump’s ruinous national security agenda stand to lose politically. Americans want leaders who will keep the United States, and allies like Israel, safe in uncertain times – and mindless chest beating won’t do it for voters.

Responsible candidates, like Feingold, who embrace effective diplomatic interventions like the Iran deal stand to prove that such hard-nosed diplomacy is wise politics in addition to being sound policy. Reckless candidates, like Johnson, who obsessively obstruct such measures and resort to scaring voters on the campaign trail are in serious political trouble.

In sum, Johnson would have done well staying off Trump’s stage last night. But I presume we can at least mark him down as a full-fledged endorser now?