Via streiff at Red State, who notes correctly that a call for mutiny is surprising coming from someone like Hewitt who’s always been a good soldier for the GOP. Although, shouldn’t that make it less surprising? The more convinced you are that the GOP’s DOA in the general election with Trump as nominee, the more determined you should be to dump him now and replace him with a Republican who can win.
Except … there’s no Republican who can win. At least not amid the rubble that would be left after the delegates nuked Trump.
Read this if you missed it last night. Dumping Trump means declaring war on his supporters, which means a schism that guarantees Clinton’s election. Never mind all of the Trump fans who are hollering lately at #NeverTrumpers that anything is better than President Hillary; they’ll drop that argument instantly once “anything” means Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan or Ted Cruz instead of the godhead Donald. And no matter how many hosannas you sing to the idea that the GOP empowers delegates to choose its nominee instead of a popular vote count for a reason, to exercise their independent judgment in situations like this one where the presumptive nominee is, ahem, problematic, millions of Republicans will view dumping Trump at the convention as a coup, nothing more or less. Damon Linker writes:
The fact is that Republican politicians are in a terrible bind. Trump is very bad news. But he won the votes. He was the clear choice of the Republican electorate — just as every presidential nominee since the 1970s has been the clear choice of the party’s voters…
Which means that Republican politicians who take a stand against Trump are ultimately taking a stand against the voters — telling them, in effect, that they made a mistake, and that their will deserves to be thwarted.
That’s not something done lightly in a democracy. It’s not even clear that it can be done successfully.
The GOP doesn’t have a “Trump problem,” Linker concludes, it has a “voter problem.” That “voter problem” would have still been there had Trump been held under 1,237 delegates but it wouldn’t have been as sharp. Many Trumpers would have refused to back Cruz or whoever after he won on the second ballot but there’d be no arguing with the fact that the rules were clear and well known to all candidates before voting began — the nominee needs a clear majority of delegates and Trump failed to achieve that. Instead Cruz dropped out after a series of crushing losses to Trump and Trump crossed the 1,237 mark easily. This is what Republican voters asked for, knowing full well from the past year of national polls that Trump is deeply disliked by the wider public and understanding from experience that he’s prone to outbursts like the one against the judge. He followed the rules. He won. Now you want to change the rules?
If your only metric in deciding whether to support Trump is finding a Republican who can beat Hillary, never mind whether he’s grossly unfit for office in terms of his grasp on policy and his temperament, he remains your best bet in November. For all the windage this past week in conservative media and among Republican pols about his war on Judge Curiel, he’s already unified the party to almost the same extent Romney had at this point in the 2012 cycle. That won’t hold if the party crowns an eleventh-hour dark-horse nominee instead, especially if Trump runs some sort of informal write-in campaign in the fall or sues to get on the ballot as an independent. His judge comments were in poor taste but most voters won’t care; we’re so far out from the election still that I wonder how many will even remember them this fall. Either Republican voters, contra the pundits, are right that Trump is the party’s strongest candidate against Hillary or they’re wildly wrong and deserve to have that demonstrated to them in the most excruciating way possible this fall. That is to say, if Linker’s right that this is ultimately a “voter problem,” the solution to that problem isn’t to have Reince Priebus swoop in and overrule the voters. All that’ll do is further convince populists that the elites are stupid and don’t play fair. The solution is to let them learn the lesson the hard way. And it will be hard, for everyone.
You can’t fault Hugh or Jay Cost, who’s begging Romney to reconsider yet again today, for despairing and looking for an escape hatch, though. Until Trump’s nomination is formalized at the convention, there’s no reason for any anti-Trumper to force themselves into stage five of the Kubler-Ross model. Continuing to bargain is a natural human reaction. Still: Given the certainty of a party crack-up in the aftermath, dumping Trump only makes sense if you’re (a) prepared to lose to Hillary in the name of blocking him from the White House and (b) willing to accept the risk of a lasting schism on the right, possibly involving the creation of a third party, that’ll all but guarantee Democratic victories in 2018 and beyond as a consequence. If your top priority is beating Hillary, whatever that means and whatever moral, ideological, and political compromises it entails, you’re much better off at this point sticking with Trump.