Anti-Trump Republicans should get behind Ted Cruz, not plot a ruinous third-party candidacy.
How far are supporters of Donald Trump willing to go? Apparently some would destroy the Republican Party in order to “save” it.
We have heard this kind of talk before: if Republicans lose national elections they will get the message that conservatives are fed-up with their failure to perform as promised and will embrace more conservative policies. Republicans have lost the last two presidential elections and risk losing a third. Maybe it’s time to try another approach. All signs suggest Trump is more a wrecking ball than one who can unite a divided party.
A recent CNN/ORC national poll finds a growing gap between those supporting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Trump. Fifty-three percent now favor Clinton while a declining 41% are for Trump. And this is before the political attack ads begin, featuring volumes of Trump sound bites.
With this in mind, establishment Republicans have been conducting a series of private meetings to plan a strategy or strategies (there appear to be more than one) to derail Trump before he can get to the 1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination. One of those strategies is to find a way to nominate someone else even should Trump get the delegates he needs.
A recent meeting of top CEO’s of technology firms, politicians and media moguls at the luxurious Sea Island, Ga., resort included Tim Cook from Apple, Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Sean Parker of Napster, Google co-founder Larry Page, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ariz.), former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, billionaire donor Philip Anschutz, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and the editor of The Weekly Standard, William Kristol.
According to the Huffington Post, the gathering “included a presentation about Trump from Rove, who shared focus-group findings that indicated Trump’s biggest weakness is that he can be erratic and that voters don’t consider him to be ‘presidential.’” One source told the Huffington Post that conversations about Trump "centered on ‘how this happened, rather than how are we going to stop him.’"
How this happened should be obvious. Members of the Washington establishment have ignored the rising anger of voters who sent Republicans to Washington only to see their major concerns ignored and themselves patronized. This establishment appears to be embarrassed by the religious and pro-life beliefs of this significant constituency. It would appear they would prefer to lose elections and feel good about themselves than to win them and have their discomfort multiplied.
So we have one wing of the GOP — social and religious conservatives — who might like to see a third presidential election loss to “send them a message” and another wing — secular and “moderate” Republicans — who appear willing to lose another national election to send a message to social conservatives that the elites don’t want them around.
This is worse than political suicide. It is cannibalism. While Donald Trump is serving up red meat to his followers, establishment Republicans are eating their own.
The New York Times reports some Republican leaders opposed to Trump are planning a 100-day campaign to keep him from the GOP nomination, beginning with the April 5 Wisconsin primary and lasting until summer. The newspaper reports these leaders are canvassing individual delegates in an effort to convince them that Trump would be a disaster for the party and the country.
Having changed the rules from 2012 to make it easier for a strong GOP nominee who would be chosen early, party elites are aghast that Trump has taken advantage and now leads in delegates. If they want an alternative, why aren't they getting behind Ted Cruz instead of talking about changing the rules at the convention, or a possible third party candidate (which columnist George Will favors)?
The answer is they know they can't control Cruz, either. The GOP establishment is about preserving its own influence, power and position. They are Trump's co-conspirators in the process of destroying their party.