Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

With less than a week to go before the first Republican primary debate, Donald Trump still refuses to sign the RNC’s “loyalty pledge” — and his supporters don’t care.

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Sometimes, a seemingly small thing can tell us a lot about a group of people. For example, during the World Cup, we learned that Japanese fans stay behind after their team’s matches to clean the stadium. You may not know anything else about Japanese culture, but this fact provides a real insight into the country’s collectivist nature. The Japanese simply believe that, generally, the needs of a group as a whole are more important than the needs of any individual. Republicans feel the exact opposite… at least if that individual is Donald Trump.

That was once again on clear display this week. No, we are not talking about Republicans flocking to the former president’s defense after yet another indictment for trying to shatter the bedrock of US democracy. Sure, that happened, too, but this is about a much smaller thing.

Let’s go back to June of this year, when the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced the rules that would determine which candidates are eligible to participate in its televised debates. These requirements included polling and donor thresholds as well as the need to sign a “loyalty pledge,” i.e., a promise every candidate had to make saying that they would support the party’s eventual nominee.

At the time, it was clear that a few of them would fail to qualify. For example, some of the lesser candidates would not be able to get the required donations from 40,000 different people… and it seemed highly unlikely that Donald Trump would sign an ultimately meaningless piece of paper saying that he would support anybody but himself.

Now, with less than a week to go before the first debate, both of these things happened.

And it’s pretty clear that the candidates who did not get enough donations or failed to attract enough support in the polls won’t be on stage. After all, the rules are the rules.

Unless your name is Donald Trump. Then, Republican voters think you should get a pass and the rules should not apply.

According to a new poll, more than three-quarters of them believe Trump should be allowed to participate even if he does not sign the loyalty pledge. Among his supporters, that figure is even higher. A whopping 94 percent of voters who said Trump is their first choice said the former president should be allowed to break the rule.

Granted, this may all be moot because Trump likely won’t bother to show up. However, if he did, it seems virtually certain that he would be allowed on stage. In fact, thumbing his nose at the RNC and demonstrating that he does not have to abide by the rules that apply to everybody else might be the only thing that gets the former president to make an appearance.

So, yes, in the end, this is a small thing. It certainly doesn’t rise to the level of all of the crimes Trump has been accused of (and many of which he has admitted to). However, it tells us a lot about who controls the GOP (hint: It’s not the RNC), the culture of lawlessness that surrounds the former president, and the willingness of his supporters to allow him to break any rule.

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