The publisher of The Federalist, Ben Domenech, declared that Marco Rubio cannot defeat Donald Trump and should pull out of the race immediately to back Ted Cruz. At a private breakfast event with students and alumni from Hillsdale College, he described the 2016 presidential race as a “political realignment.”
Speaking to a small crowd, Domenech declared, “I think Lindsey Graham is correct — we have to coalesce behind Ted Cruz. Rubio’s voters would coalesce behind Cruz.” He insisted, “The only way to stop Trump is for Rubio to back Cruz TODAY.” He also noted the irony of Graham calling for this, since it was Lindsey Graham who said a choice between Trump and Cruz is akin to “being shot or poisoned.”
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) February 24, 2016
At the same time, the Federalist publisher encouraged conservatives to sympathize with Trump’s supporters. “Middle Americans see hope for their own lives in Trump’s promise to ‘Make America Great Again,'” Domenech explained. He argued that this is a general movement — people are finding personal worth in their support of politicians and political movements, especially with Bernie Sanders and Trump. Domenech warned that this is unhealthy.
Nevertheless, people are right to feel that elites have failed them, he added. This angry sentiment drove the Tea Party, and the Occupy Movement, and it propels Black Lives Matter and the Trump and Sanders campaigns.
“Remember how Super PACs were going to change everything?” Domenech asked. “Well, we have a leading candidate who campaigns on Twitter.” In light of this, “we have to reassess the way we look at politics — the force of earned media versus political advertising.”
Domenech argued that, despite his anti-establishment background, Trump is an authoritarian. “This realignment is based on people backing the authoritarian Trump who they believe fights for them,” he explained. This is the way politics usually works, historically. Classically liberal coalitions, which are based on cutting the size and scope of government, are usually less popular than coalitions based on identity politics, which demand special favors from government. He added that “Bernie Sanders is just as authoritarian as Trump, but we have forgotten history.”
History shows that some political realignments succeed (Andrew Jackson) and others fail (William Jennings Bryan), but it also demonstrates that socialism does not work, while free-market capitalism propelled America to unprecedented prosperity. The Trump phenomenon requires conservatives to stand up and explain what totalitarianism looks like, Domenech said. He characterized Hillsdale College students and alumni as exactly the sort of conservatives who are equipped to do this.
Matthew Spalding, associate vice president for the college’s operations in Washington, D.C., declared that a Trump presidency might — ironically — be good for limited government. If Trump were president, Spalding explained, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress would oppose his policies and wrest back some control over rulemaking.
Nevertheless, Domenech was insistent that Trump should be stopped. He mentioned his participation in the National Review special issue “Against Trump.” While Domenech wants to stop Trump, he also said a convention battle would be worse — Trump would feel cheated and run for president in a third party.