The great likelihood is that Donald Trump will take the GOP nomination. Whether we like it or not, this is becoming, each day, more of a real probability, in the realm of “going to happen” versus an outlier.
Unless either Cruz or Rubio exit the race quickly, and swing all their support behind the remaining man, their voter split will open the path for Trump to take most of the delegates through March 15, when the winner-take-all Florida primary starts the huge delegate hauls.
By then, it will be too late to stop Trump. Hence my thought on the force of the Trump campaign. Newtonian physics has a simple formula: F=ma where F is force, m is mass and a is acceleration. The mass of the Trump phenomenon is–as Trump would say–tremendous. The acceleration is constant. Unless acted upon by a larger outside force, it will win the nomination out of pure inertia.
If Trump wins, the GOP will face the end of the conservative movement as we know it. Noah Rothman envisioned this scenario over at Commentary Magazine, and it wasn’t such a bad thing. It was kind of like death; a relief after the struggle.
So it may be conservatism’s lot to return to the wilderness. A movement that does not promise its adherents one favor save for the threat of total independence and the fruits of their own labor should be comfortable in exile. But while that prospect is a terrifying one, conservatives should not surrender to the challenges of the moment. If their lot is to lose, then the right should do so with the understanding that theirs is a timeless ideology. It can and has survived setbacks and struggles, and it will survive this. If the conservative revolution that began with the Tea Party dies in Cleveland this summer, conservatives should not succumb to fatalism. They should however be clear-eyed about the challenges they will face in again trying to wrestle the Republican Party back from the grips of a charlatan pretender and his coterie of flatterers. Compromise is the true American virtue; it is the stuff that makes the republic run, and Republicans are skilled compromisers. If this election cycle has demonstrated anything, though, it is that Republicans are not necessarily conservatives.
That’s wonderful, poetic, soaring and encouraging prose. But it flies so high it ignores the harm of the daily march away from First Principles. By Rothman (and I agree), conservatives should never, never, never, never, never give up, and never support a candidate such as Trump, who is anathema to our values.
Yet our own Josh Hammer voiced an equal, if pragmatic reasoning, suggesting that Trump could earn a conservative vote for only one reason: His potential to appoint a real conservative, pro-life Supreme Court justice.
I do not believe for a second that Donald Trump has any intellectual appreciation for conservative jurisprudence or for Justice Scalia’s life work in solidifying originalism as the juridical default for right-of-center jurists, but this was an excellent answer. Judge Pryor is a pro-life stalwart who has called abortion “murder” and referred to Roe v. Wade as “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” Senate Democrats tried to block his nomination at the time, but were unsuccessful. Judge Sykes is a similar stalwart and a staunch originalist when it comes to constitutional interpretation.
The problem with Trump saying things that resonate with conservatives and pro-lifers is that he’ll say them with the explicit purpose of resonating.
Rothman wrote that “there are almost no public surveys that suggest Trump could win the popular vote in November.” Gosh, that’s funny given that on June 2, 2015, there were zero polls that indicated Trump was anywhere on the map, because he wasn’t. Yet on July 20, Trump assumed the lead, and except for a brief time in November, has never relinquished it.
All the pundits assumed various reasons, like conservative anger at Washington D.C. and the Tea Party’s destruction of Eric Cantor and John Boehner. But those things in themselves don’t explain Trump’s ascendancy and persistence. It’s Trump’s ability to become a chameleon and take on issues that make him the center of discussion, always in a polarizing light, that best explain his hold.
And that’s how he plans to win the White House.
I keep returning to Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist and expert in the art of persuasion.
In the 2D world of politics, voters say they look at the issues and choose the candidate with the best platform. In the 3D world of persuasion, so long as a candidate isn’t bat-shit crazy, personality always beats policy details. So the question comes down to which of the three candidates can solve for their perceived personality flaws.
If Trump finds a way to be less scary, he wins. If Clinton finds a way to be more trusted, she wins. If Sanders accepts Jesus as his personal savior, he wins.
I don’t see any scenario in which Clinton regains trust or Sanders turns to Jesus. But Trump probably has several solutions to fix his scariness problem. Let’s talk about how he can do that and win in a landslide.
We have already seen Trump modulate his personality to fit any circumstance. He fights when he needs to fight, but he also shows empathy – with wounded veterans, for example – when the situation calls for it. Trump says clearly and often that he changes his approach to fit the situation. But can he change his approach enough to stop scaring the pants off of Democrats?
Trump has no plan to hew to the conservative line during a general election. As a matter of fact, once he’s secured 1,237 delegates–sometime in April, barring a larger force applied to stop him–he will veer left and start planning for November. At first, it will be slow, a blast on conservatives here and there, then it will pick up steam.
By the time we hit Cleveland, we’ll be praying for Trump to pick someone even as milquetoast as John Kasich as his running mate. Or Mike Huckabee.
Trump will run to the left of every GOP candidate in the race right now, and will out-conspiracy Sanders, and out-lie Hillary (if that’s even possible). He will appear the least scary choice of them all, sane, sober, and liberal as hell with an (R) after his name. (We call that a RINO for the rest of you readers who accuse Jeb Bush or Chris Christie of that particular sin.)
He will find the middle ground between the paranoid left and the paranoid right, and make it work for him. You think he can’t do it because too many people (two thirds of Republicans oppose him) will catch on. But if he’s running against Hillary, you won’t see the same Donald Trump, who said “I am very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.”
Unlike Adams, I don’t think Trump can win in a landslide. I don’t think he intends or needs to. But there’s a path for him and he will take it.
Now back to why that matters. Why not just let it happen, vote him in, keep Hillary out, and hope for the best? Batten down the hatches and weather the storm, play for influence in a Trump
organization administration, and start over from the wilderness of conservative exile. Why not that?
Because the world is really going to Hell in a hand basket (the capital “H” place where Satan will burn for eternity Hell). Every day, 3,000 unborn babies are murdered, and a Supreme Court packed with liberals will not overturn Roe v. Wade for another generation. We cannot trust Trump to do the right thing.
Syria, ISIS, Iran, Jordan, Iraq, the whole Middle East is boiling over, with Russia playing for influence. We can’t “make great deals” and expect statesmanship from Trump. We hear things that tickle our ears from him. Kill them, then take the oil; destroy the oil then take it, then kill them. Kill their families (which is immoral and a crime against humanity), then take the oil. Who knows what he’ll do?
My own personal reason for opposing Trump, at all–even sacrificial–cost, even the cost of having Hillary in the White House and battening down for four years of a Global Village with the Chief Nana Nixon, is this (as an aside, with Hillary we know what we get: lies, all the way down). I realize that means losing the Supreme Court. But we’ll also lose it with Trump, and lose a lot more.
Trump is a seriously morally flawed man, and not just personally morally flawed like Bill Clinton. He’s flawed in his conception of morality. He doesn’t understand the basis of forgiveness. He says the right things, but he really doesn’t “feel our pain.” He’s vindictive and grudge-bound. He’s a bully who threatens and hits so hard in response to small provocations as to deter others from dissent. (Go watch “Ender’s Game” and you’ll see what Trump with a conscience looks like.)
The antidote for Trump, the antithesis for him, is found in the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Whatever kindness Trump possesses (and he is, by all accounts, in person a kind and gracious man–or ingratiating at least) is canceled by his lack of Godly character in the definition of love.
America is so far away from the values and First Principles the founders invoked in our establishing documents and governing ethos. We cannot bury our conservative heads in the sand and allow the one party we’ve build up to take on the Left’s wholesale descent into socialism and identity politics die led by a charlatan.
Donald Trump has his eyes firmly fixed on the White House, and we, as conservatives, should, must, deny him from taking it. It matters because lives and our national character are at stake. If Trump destroys the GOP, what will we build to carry the banner? How long will we walk through the wilderness? If we go the way of the Whigs, will it take 100 more years to return? That may be too late.
I’d rather see the GOP lose and stand for something than win and stand for nothing more than winning. If that makes me a bad Republican, so be it.