The long-awaited Republican National Convention is only twelve days away. We still don’t know exactly who will speak, who will show up to support Trump, and what surprises are in store. However, we do know a few things.
First, at least 600 delegates are bound to (559, officially) or unbound and voting for Ted Cruz, who has made no indication that he’s releasing them. Cruz has indicated that he will be at the convention, unlike Jeb Bush. Marco Rubio is on the fence at this point, along with the sitting governor of Ohio John Kasich.
Second, of the 2,472 delegates present, 1,542 are bound to Donald Trump, and even if all the unbound delegates vote for someone else, Trump still wins on the first ballot. Therefore, barring changes to the rules, he will be the nominee.
Third, according to current rules, Ted Cruz has enough delegates for his name to be placed into nomination, which would earn him a speaking slot without paying the piper by endorsing Trump. At least 1,000 delegates are solid Cruz supporters (whether they are bound to him or others). Should Cruz speak, what he says is going to be carefully negotiated between himself, Reince Priebus, and Trump.
Fourth, Chairman Priebus wants to run a clean, honest, and scandal-free convention. I can imagine his bar tab might be quite high given the stress level. (Does he drink? If not it would be a good time to start.) Priebus has personally appointed his longtime go-to person, Enid Mickelsen, to run the all-important rules committee. Normally, this is a job picked by the presumptive nominee.
Fifth, there will absolutely be a “Dump Trump” effort in Cleveland. If Mickelsen is a fair player (which by all accounts she is), she’ll allow the 112 committee delegates enough latitude to do what they need to do, but not so much as to overturn procedure. In other words, the Trump whips will be free to make their case, individually with delegates and as a group in committee meetings.
Sixth, if the rules committee sends a bomb to the floor to wipe out Trump’s first ballot advantage, there will be bedlam.
And, finally, none of the above six points matter one bit.
The Republican Party is finit for this election cycle as a unified body of like-minded political inclination. It’s not going to gel. The Titanic has months ago struck an iceberg and the ocean is flooding in with ever more intensity.
All the intrigue at the convention is nothing but seeing who can scramble for the lifeboats, who keeps bailing, and who goes down with the ship. Nothing, at this point, can save the GOP from abject failure. If the delegates anoint Trump, it will be at the barrel of a political gun, under duress.
If the delegates dump Trump, it will be a very public repudiation of every politician who pandered to the Orange Throne, and every party leader and office-holder who gritted their teeth “for the team.” It will permanently swing every Trump-loving voter to–I’m honestly not sure. They might stay home; they might beg Trump to go third party. They might get violent.
But one thing is certain: the GOP will not unify behind any candidate coming out of Cleveland. I’m okay with that. Dumping Trump is doing the right thing, even if it means bailing the Titanic.