News & Politics

No, Mr. Trump, You're Not the Presumptive Nominee... Yet

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, seen in reflection (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In his victory speech after winning all five of the Northeast primaries on Tuesday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump declared himself the “presumptive nominee.” As much as his fans liked it, the statement is, strictly speaking, just not true.

Despite big wins in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, The Donald still lacks the 1,237 delegates required to secure the nomination. It is true that his last remaining challengers, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, cannot gain enough pledged delegates to win outright, but that does not mean that Trump wins by process of elimination. The Donald cannot assume he wins just because his competition cannot claim the crown — he still has to pass the finish line himself.

That said, Trump is roughly on track to win the nomination. Even if Ted Cruz defeats him in the must-win states of Indiana and California, The Donald will only be about 100 delegates short. This is the scenario necessary to push the race to a contested convention, but even that does not guarantee a Cruz victory.

The Texas senator has the strongest grassroots operation focused on electing delegates who are friendly to Cruz. This is a brilliant strategy, so long as it does not distract from winning the two remaining states to block Trump’s nomination. On the first ballot at the convention, all pledged delegates will have to vote in the way their states decided. These are the raw numbers you see everywhere: Trump 950, Cruz 560, Kasich 153. After the first ballot, those delegates can start to decide for themselves.

As Nate Silver pointed out, “Delegates are people!” While they are pledged to support the winner in their state or congressional district for a time, eventually they will be free to back anyone. This is why it matters who the delegates actually are. This is the game Cruz has been winning, to a certain extent. But he has to win this game big, and I mean really big, in order to clinch the nomination on the second or third ballot.

If the convention moves beyond a third ballot, all bets are off. At this point, John Kasich — or even a dark horse like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney — will start to look appetizing to delegates, or they might just go back to the devil they know and back The Donald. With Paul Manafort, the political wrangler who got Vladimir Putin’s man elected in Ukraine, Trump’s campaign might just recapture the wind after a few bad votes.

Next Page: The reasons why Republicans should fight Trump to the bitter end.

There are good arguments for fighting Trump until the bitter end. His vulgar insults and absurdities — “I like people who weren’t captured” — really should matter, even though political correctness has gone off its rocker. The man brags, not just about sleeping with other men’s wives, but about buying off politicians. The Donald tried to use the power of government to steal an elderly widow’s house — for a limousine parking lot. But most importantly, he has yet to articulate a real political platform, and has often supported liberal causes — even just a few years ago.

I want to believe in Donald Trump the way some people believe in him, but it is just insane to think that a politician will keep the promises you happen to like, and break the ones you don’t. Because he has made a vast array of off-the-cuff promises, Trump represents less a political platform and more a seething tide of resentment. He has become the symbol of anger at the establishment, at the absurdities of political correctness, at the “progressive” acid that is eating our culture from within.

Republican leaders deserve to be rebuked for giving in too quickly, political correctness deserves to be flouted and destroyed, and the ideology of progressivism needs a good kick in the pants to send it back where it belongs — in the dark ages with other oppressive statist ideologies. But Donald Trump is not the man to do this. The man is a deal maker, not a battering ram. He is a failed businessman, and all the bravado in the world can’t save you from a history of bankruptcies and broken relationships. There are few solid reasons to put our trust in this man, no matter how many votes he wins.

It may be impossible to stop him, but God bless those who risk life and limb to try. And God help us all — and most importantly help him — if he wins.