Anyone who wants to understand just how much Donald Trump has transformed the Republican Party should look no further than the GOP’s candidate for Indiana secretary of state, Diego Morales.

Morales, it seems, is a dues-paying member of the scandal-a-day club.

The most recent one to dog his campaign involves questions about his service in the National Guard. Morales has called himself a “veteran,” even though his time in uniform doesn’t meet the federal definition for using that term. There also is uncertainty about how he left the service.

In and of itself, this wouldn’t be that big a deal. Politicians have been using—and inflating—their service to country as campaign props ever since the Revolutionary War.

But it’s part of a pattern.

Virtually every part of Morales’ resume has come into question.

He was dismissed from the staff of the office he now seeks to hold not once but twice, under two different secretaries of state. He’s called himself an “adjunct professor” when in fact he was an adjunct instructor. He calls himself a “Business Executive, Consultant, Entrepreneur” but can’t list places he’s worked.

Then there’s the matter of how he’s handled his campaign money.

He used more than $40,000 of it to buy a new car that he uses.

Yet, Morales touts himself as the guy who can restore integrity to state government and trust in the political process.

He even sounds serious when he says it.

Thus, in almost every way, he is the perfect embodiment of a Trump Republican. He exemplifies almost every trait of the former president.

Trump, after all, touted himself as a business mastermind even though he has declared bankruptcy at least six times—and the tax filings his niece Mary Trump released showed that he once lost more than $1 billion in a single year.

He claims to revere family values even though he has been married three times, has boasted about cheating on his wives and just buried his first wife—the mother of his oldest children—on a golf course he owns simply so he could get a tax break.

He touts his devotion to the military even though he avoided going to Vietnam by claiming he had bone spurs that prevented his service and later claimed that dating in New York in those days was the equivalent of seeing combat. Somehow, I doubt the guys in wheelchairs or the families who sent loved ones off to die in Southeast Asia would agree with him on that one.

And, in the spirit of Morales and the car, Trump saw running for office as a way to enhance his lifestyle. While both running for and serving as president, he spent a lot of time—and massive amounts of campaign and taxpayer money—staying at properties he owned.

When Trump was in the White House, he spent one-third of his nights—more than a year in total—staying at Trump properties. He made the taxpayers foot the bill for him and his entire entourage on these stays. Millions of tax dollars flowed into his pockets this way.

This does not count, of course, the millions of other dollars that flowed his way when special interests, many of them foreign, stayed at Trump hotels to curry favor with the then president.

All of this is the Trump way—and the way of Trump acolytes such as Morales.

Down is up.

Night is day.

Wrong is right.

And saying you’ve done something—serving in the military, seeing combat—is the same as actually doing it.

The pity of all this is that it is the antithesis of what the Republican Party once was.

Not that long ago, the GOP was both the bastion of and the bugle for the meritocracy. If there was one core value that united the party, it was that achievement mattered.

The rewards in life should go to those who genuinely had accomplished things.

Not to guys who have been fired from the offices they now seek to lead or guys who veer from one bankruptcy to another. Not to people who claim military status they haven’t earned or say they revere the family while walking away from marriages whenever honoring their vows becomes too difficult.

Yesterday’s Republican Party believed one should live the values one espouses.

But the GOP of Donald Trump and Diego Morales?

Apparently not.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The opinions expressed by the author do not represent the views of Franklin College.

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