I used to think like Paul Gigot, Alex Conant, Terry Sullivan Todd Harris, Chip Englander, and Mitt Romney (Conant, Sullivan, Harris and Englander being the core of Team Rubio). I thought that all the GOP had to do to stop El Trumpo (aka Der Apfelstrudelfuhrer–God I love that moniker) was to keep him from getting 1,237 delegates.
I thought 1,237 was the magic firewall. The convention in Cleveland, after all, will be packed with non-Trump delegates. My local precinct caucus was loaded with Cruz and Rubio supporters. I imagine it played out the same in many other cities, because Cruz’s operation at least has been calling likely first-time delegate candidates to go to their caucuses and get the process started. What you load into the front hopper of the machine comes out the back end in Cleveland.
The plan was to deny Trump 1,237 and on the second vote, Cruz would win–or Rubio. But then the party elites had a different plan. A truly brokered back-room-deal convention where all kinds of strings and pulled and we could be directed to vote for a “party candidate.” Directed, my lily white ass–if I’m in Cleveland, I’ll vote for who I want to.
But now, I realize that my own attitude is exactly how everyone else in the country who went to the polls and voted for Trump in the first place will react if we end up with a brokered convention that doesn’t yield Trump as nominee. We no longer own the GOP–Trump has wrested it from our control. “Us” being the people who, year after year, advocated for Republican candidates, defended them publicly in writing and in personal conversations, participated in party politics, and generally sustained the GOP as it clawed its way out of a massive hole (since 2008 at least).
“Us” is the group who helped the Tea Party knock RINOs and dealmakers out of office, who saw blue states flip to red, who put Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse and Mike Lee and David Perdue in the Senate; and Jim Bridenstine and Justin Amash and Dave Brat in the House; and Bobby Jindal and Greg Abbott and Matt Bevin in their governors’ mansions.
But now all of that is at risk, because “us” doesn’t have the keys to the front door anymore. Those keys belong to Donald Trump and his Trumpkins. The only way to get those keys back is at the ballot box. Stealing the keys at the convention is no longer a possibility. As Erick wrote, it will lead to potential (actual) bloodshed and the end of the GOP.
What does the “end of the GOP” mean, in real terms?
It means that nobody voting today will trust the Republican Party again for a very long time, if it ever recovers at all.
It means that every Republican governor, senator, congressman, state legislator, mayor or dog catcher will be at risk in down ticket elections. And they will be voted out because of the (R) after their name. The “(R)” will in fact become the Scarlet Letter of adultery and betrayal.
That’s what is meant by the “end of the GOP.” It means that the Republican Party will go the way of the Whigs. I actually wrote that back in August.
Trump is a direct result of the GOP’s inability to define itself as a party with a purpose. If the GOP is defined as “everything that isn’t Democrat” then it’s nothing more than the Whigs of 1854. Dead.
There are at least five solid conservative candidates who have real policies, who aren’t Stryofoam in the party. But if voters continue to fuel Trump’s ego-driven jags into personal attacks and obnoxiousness, his Styrofoam candidacy will continue to grow and increase the size of the void when it finally self-annihilates.
GOP, it’s time to grow up and look down into the grave that the Whigs fell into before our party goes the way of the Know-Nothings.
I meant it in an academic, definitional sense, that the GOP won’t stand for anything. But now I see that it applies in a very real, concrete, brick-thrown-at-your-head way. If Trump is denied the nomination through a brokered convention, and not at the ballot box, things are not going to go cleanly.
Trump may exit to a third party, which I thought was a useful outcome. But it’s not. It’s Ross Perot times ten thousand bad. It’s a guaranteed win for any Democrat. Hillary could win from actual jail. Not only that but the scorched earth of the GOP in every down ballot race for the next four years or longer will be visible from the International Space Station. The GOP will be a smoking hole, and whatever third party Trump starts will take its place.
Trump will make Tammany Hall look like the Girl Scouts. By losing the nomination and the presidency, he will take his revenge in the likely permanent and fatal wounding of the party that rejected him. Trump has the keys to the GOP’s front door. It’s no longer our GOP.
There’s only one way to take the party back, and that’s for Rubio and Cruz to put down their axes, and for Gigot, Conant, Sullivan, Harris, Englander, and Romney to stop advising Rubio to continue in a Quixotic battle for a brokered convention. I see the light now (it’s a train coming down the dark tunnel, sporting a big “T” on locomotive’s pilot).
We (as in “Us”) must do everything we can to warn the others gathered at the end of that tunnel to see the light too and consolidate a Cruz/Rubio unity ticket before it’s too late. And after March 15, it will probably be too late.