Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Donald Trump is the Republican Nominee...and We Need To Realize the Consequences

Polling for today's Indiana primaries are kind of all over the board for the GOP.  Both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have, in recent days, taken the lead away from one another and quite frankly, not since Wisconsin have I been this curious over who will end up taking the statewide vote, and with that a large amount of delegates.  Considering who the polls are coming from, I'd suspect that Trump (with massive momentum at his back) is the more obvious contender to take the Hoosier State, and with that, likely the Republican nomination.

Even if he doesn't win, at this point it's hard to imagine anyone other than the New York business magnate winning the Republican nomination.  John Kasich has become such a footnote at this point he's basically just a protest vote for Republicans who can't fathom not voting but can't bring themselves to pick between chopping off their arm or their leg.  Ted Cruz has had a dip in his support at literally the worst possible time-not since Marco Rubio's faltering in a debate against Chris Christie have we seen a candidate have such poor timing.  The decision to pick Carly Fiorina rather than someone who might have shaken up the race a bit more forcefully (John Kasich or Marco Rubio come to mind) reeked of him trying to shape the narrative, and he's received little to no bounce from the announcement.  It's going to be next to impossible for the Republicans, regardless of how many delegates are trying to be stacked in Cruz's favor, to deny Donald Trump, who clearly has the support of the majority of their parties' voters, the nomination.  He's won the most popular votes, will head into the convention with the most delegates (likely exceeding or at least very close to approaching 1237), the most popular votes, and the most won contests.  Quite simply, the voters want him, and it would feel undemocratic and false to go with Cruz, Kasich, Paul Ryan, or any other Republican that the powers-that-be are hoping to see on the Cleveland dais.

As a result, this is going to be a come-to-Jesus moment for the GOP.  Many members of the party, including members of Congress like Ben Sasse, Scott Rigell, and Mark Sanford, have pledged that they will not endorse Trump even if he is the party's nominee.  People like Reps. Bob Dold and Carlos Curbelo, who have said the same thing, are likely signing away their careers in Washington as they live in districts that went for President Obama but it's difficult to imagine Trump telling his supporters to back candidates who don't back him in return; considering that coalition-building in that scenario is next to impossible, both are near certain to lose with Trump at the top of the ticket.  George Will has gotten to the point where he has implied that Hillary Clinton is a better option than Donald Trump (and that's saying something coming from the poster boy for conservatives).

The question here is-what do Republicans do?  I tweeted this the other day, but really the only person who is actually going to help the #NeverTrump movement is Hillary Clinton.  The reality is that the former New York senator is the only person who can actually stop Trump from taking the White House-elections have consequences, and even if you don't like who wins them you're stuck with them, and Trump is near certain to take the GOP nomination.  A third party option isn't really there-getting Ben Sasse or Mike Bloomberg suddenly into the race under an independent banner isn't going to be feasible, and has too much potential to backfire.

And the reality is that, while it's anathema for die-hard Republicans to support Hillary Clinton (it's not even a Democrat they haven't learned to hate yet like a Martin O'Malley or Mark Warner-it's the woman they've loathed for decades), Donald Trump is a dangerous man.  If he does half of the things he's promised on the campaign trail while in the White House, the country is headed for an international incident, potentially deeply discriminatory practices against women and minorities, and quite frankly I don't want a man that is as hot-tempered, quick to change positions with no grasp on international policy, and quick to incite incendiary speech within twenty miles of the nuclear codes.  Sarah Palin being vice president, despite having zilch grasp on foreign policy, international diplomacy, and most key issues of the day, was scary enough; at least John McCain was still in charge in that regard.  Here we would have a man who has shown no humility, grace, or concept of foreign policy outside of what is written on his teleprompter.  Those who praise his foreign policy speech are clearly grasping for straws-in an interview he couldn't do that, and it still reeked of a relatively simplistic point-of-view.

I'm not necessarily asking conservatives and establishment Republicans to get out and vote for Hillary Clinton.  That seems like an enormous ask, but at least espouse not voting for Trump or casting a protest vote for a third-party candidate or leaving that line on the ballot blank.  The reality is that while Trump is definitely an unknown factor (I figured we'd see hundreds of articles coming out saying "well, Trump can actually win"), the odds are stacked against him in a way that they never were in the GOP primary.  The media is going to have a harder time, with the stakes considerably higher, overlooking his gaps in policy, and even if they don't he has encountered a party that was going to be more receptive to his calls for change as they loath the current administration.  The reality is that, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton also has record low approval ratings, the country has voted for the Democratic candidate for president in five out of the past six popular votes, and George HW Bush, Bob Dole, George W Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all enjoyed universal support from their party, something that Trump doesn't have.  To speculate that Trump could bring out people who don't vote normally ignores the fact that there could well be a number of people who don't normally vote that will come out and vote against him.  Already we're seeing an enormous increase in the number of Latino voters who are registering to vote compared to past contests, which will affect not only the presidential race in states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada, but also the down-ballot Senate and House races in those states.

This is a major election, and perhaps finally that maxim of "most important of our lifetimes" is going to be true, despite it being trotted out literally every two years.  Do we (Democrats, Independents, and moderate-leaning Republicans) pick an admittedly flawed woman who has held multiple high-level positions, even if she wasn't our first (or in the case of those Republicans, "anything other than last") choice for the nomination, or do we stand by and watch a man who quotes Mussolini, who espouses hatred toward his fellow countrymen and relishes in chaos, take on the highest office in the land just because of the letter behind his name?  It's a question everyone should be asking, and while I don't envy Republicans who have to make such a painful decision, I know what I'd do in their shoes.

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