GOP Must Destroy Itself to Save Its Soul
The Washington Post editorial board is urging the GOP leadership to stop Donald Trump from getting the Republican nomination for president by any means necessary.
DONALD TRUMP’S primary victories Tuesday present the Republican Party with a stark choice. Should leaders unite behind Mr. Trump, who has collected the most delegates but may reach the convention in July without a nominating majority? Or should they do everything they can to deny him the nomination? On a political level, this may be a dilemma. As a moral question, it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election.
We do not take this position because we believe Mr. Trump is perilously wrong on the issues, although he is. His proposed tariff on Chinese imports could spark a trade war and global depression. His proposed tax plan would bankrupt the government while enriching his fellow multimillionaires. But policy proposals, however ill-formed and destructive, are not the crux of the danger.
No, Mr. Trump must be stopped because he presents a threat to American democracy. Mr. Trump resembles other strongmen throughout history who have achieved power by manipulating democratic processes. Their playbook includes a casual embrace of violence; a willingness to wield government powers against personal enemies; contempt for a free press; demonization of anyone who is not white and Christian; intimations of dark conspiracies; and the propagation of sweeping, ugly lies. Mr. Trump has championed torture and the murder of innocent relatives of suspected terrorists. He has flirted with the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. He has libeled and stereotyped wide swaths of humanity, including Mexicans and Muslims. He considers himself exempt from the norms of democratic contests, such as the release of tax returns, policy papers, lists of advisers and other information that voters have a right to expect.
Does a respect for democracy require the Republican Party to anoint its leading vote-getter? Hardly. We are not advocating that rules be broken but that they be employed to maximum effect — to force a brokered convention and nominate a conservative candidate who respects the Constitution, or to defeat Mr. Trump in some other way. If Mr. Trump is attracting 40 percent of Republicans, who in turn represent about one-quarter of the country, that is a 10 percent slice of the population — hardly a mantle of legitimacy.
The Post is not advocating breaking the rules, but that's exactly what it would take to stop Mr. Trump. He will almost certainly arrive at the convention with enough pledged delegates for a first-ballot victory. At that point, the GOP leadership would have to throw out the rulebook to deny Trump the nomination.
The sad truth that has yet to be accepted by most anti-Trump Republicans is that no matter what happens at the convention, the GOP is toast. Deny Trump the nomination and an unprecedented rejection of his replacement by the rank and file would hand the White House and probably the Senate to Democrats.
On the other hand, allowing Trump to be the standard bearer for the party would not only be irresponsible, but result in a similar -- if not worse -- electoral disaster. The simple reality is people don't vote for people they strongly dislike. Trump's unfavorable rating is unprecedented. His RCP average is 61%, with an astonishing 56% giving him a "strongly unfavorable" rating in the latest Washington Post poll Any political pro will tell you that this is a recipe for catastrophic losses from the top to the bottom of the Republican ticket.
Trumpbots will point to all the Democrats and independents who are voting for The Donald, giving him a decent chance of winning, they say. This is very true. But it doesn't do any good if Trump only gets 75-80% of Republican voters instead of the 88-90% that Romney and McCain received. Exit polls show more than one third of GOP voters wouldn't vote for Trump under any circumstances.
So the leadership is damned if they do and damned if they don't. I would much prefer to see Trump trounced at the polls and his followers humiliated than see a blowup at the convention. If the party is going to melt down, better the lesson be given by the American people than the party elite.
And what of one nation, under Hillary? There will be less freedom, and more "justice" only for those favored Democratic groups who pay for the privilege. Hillary will be a terrible, awful president, but the republic is resilient enough to survive her far-left liberalism, much of which can be reversed if she's a one-term president. Can the same be said of Donald Trump?
WaPo urging Republicans to embark on a "moral"campaign to keep Trump from the presidency is unnecessary. The Republican Party is essentially finished. After the election, there will be some sort of entity that we will call the "Republican Party." But it will be unrecognizable from what came before. And whether that remnant of Republicanism can survive is an open question.