I can’t think of a more cringeworthy scene than Donald Trump at the podium in Cleveland, blathering on about winning to a room full of stone-faced, arms-crossed delegates hurling catcalls and boos. But here we are.
“These are the jokes, kid.” Billy Crystal’s go-to line when his act hits a dead spot. The GOP is going to be one enormous dead spot for Trump. I mean it’s hard to barely win a primary when you’re the only candidate running. The only remaining candidate got to where he is by leveraging delegate allocation rules to maximize his “bound” delegates without actually fielding those party delegates at the local and state level.
Between now and Cleveland, the peer pressure on delegates to get on the Trump Train will be immense, but disingenuous. It will be more like frat kids telling the pledges to drink or face shame, or get that co-ed drunk and take her up to the bedroom or you’re not a man. Or jump off that cliff into the deep, cold, dark water filling the quarry. Don’t be a wimp.
I suggest that the wimps are the people who go along with the crowd because the crowd wants to feel validated. Most of the delegates in Cleveland will be dispirited Cruz or Rubio supporters who don’t necessarily mix well with each other, never mind Trump cultists. They’ll be there with gritted teeth. They’ll be likely to boo and heckle instead of clap and cheer.
Nothing Trump could say or do, short of dropping $100 bills as confetti over the convention floor, would move these delegates to be happy for his coronation. Saying bad things about Hillary Clinton can only go so far.
Either the party will free the delegates and force Trump to negotiate positions with the party about to nominate him (which by the way might offer him a better chance of–you know, winning–than he has running to the left of Hillary), or it will hold the delegates prisoner in Cleveland.
Delegates, you’re being sent a message: You will be made to unite. You don’t have to accept that message. Demand your freedom and demand your party be made to stand with you, not against you.