“Power corrupts.” That doesn’t merely mean that having power can corrupt a person. It also means that people in powerful position can easily corrupt those around them.

We’re seeing that with Donald Trump today. The sad sight of conservatives, including Christian leaders, waving away the latest revelation about the Republican nominee, shows why endorsing Trump—and maybe even voting for him—is a mistake for conservatives.

Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women and trying to have sex with married women, and it was caught on tape. This corroborates reporting on Trump’s past (see here and here for instance).

When Ralph Reed waves away Trump’s comments, and when Michelle Bachmann does the same, they are showing the truth of the statement. They’ve been corrupted by the candidate they back. Many Trump endorsers, set on sticking with their horse, are following suit. Those Trump endorsers who have condemned Trump’s comments, like Paul Ryan, will now be asked relentlessly if they will unendorse Trump. If they don’t, they have to defend him in some way.

So if you see Trump for who he is, yet still prefer him to Clinton, endorsing him publicly makes you vulerable to this corruption. If you calculate that he is the lesser of two evils, then quietly voting for him seems more prudent, and less likely to rope you into his vice.

Now imagine if Trump weren’t crashing in the polls. Fewer Republicans would be condemning Trump and more would probably be defending him. This points us to a bigger question.

For a conservative, and for conservatism, what might be the harms of four years of Donald Trump? If his six months as the party standard bearer can contort free-traders into defending his protectionism, conservatives into crassly discarding the unborn, and Christian leaders into casually waving away this anti-marriage, sexually libertine, abusive misogyny, imagine what four years could do to the soul of conservatism.

I’m not a lesser-of-two-evils voter, and I live in Maryland, so I don’t feel pressure to be one. If I were, however, it’s unclear to me which is the lesser evil. Trump’s potential corruption of the Right—especially the Christian Right—is something to worry about.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.

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