With the Trump train barreling through the South on Super Tuesday, racking up an impressive number of delegates and solid wins; it is safe to say that while the GOP presidential nomination is not yet secured, it is at this point Trump’s to lose.
What makes The Donald so formidable is that, unlike other Republican candidates, whose past comments, positions, and histories are dissected on a molecular level for evidence of ideological impurities which render them unfit for the nomination, nothing Trump has ever said or done seems to affect the support of his loyalists.
Three marriages? He loves diversity! Bragging about serial adulterous affairs. Oh, isn’t that so “Donald”? Health care more socialized than ObamaCare? At least people won’t be dying in the streets! Support for partial birth abortion and Planned Parenthood? He’s changed! Trade war with China? Bring it on! Appointing leftists like his uber-liberal federal judge sister to the Supreme Court? He wouldn’t do that. Legalizing millions of illegals? Not on Trump’s watch (though he has said repeatedly that he will do just that). A Christian who claims he has no need to ask God for forgiveness? Well, people interpret the Bible many ways…
Yet his support is strong because an angry Republican base thinks he will be different, and that he will “win”.
To be sure, the Republican Party “establishment” gave birth to the Trump phenomenon. Under George W. Bush we watched the size and cost of government grow, especially when he had a Republican-majority Congress. No Child Left Behind, huge non-defense spending increases, TARP bailouts; those were all Bush babies. Under Obama, the conservative/TEA Party base gave Republicans historic routs in the 2010 and 2014 midterms, returning control of both the House and Senate to the GOP. Instead of taking that mandate and fighting the unconstitutional and extra-constitutional Obama agenda, the GOP all too often gave token resistance and rolled over and played dead.
Now they are paying the price.
Yet while his supporters gleefully cheer the prospect of a President Trump, there are some very concerning signs as to what would result from a Trump nomination. As in, a loss to Hillary in the general election, and the drag he may create on down-ticket races, especially with vulnerable Senate seats. It is conceivable, maybe even probable, that a Trump nomination results in the loss of the presidency to Hillary and the loss of control of the Senate to Democrats.
The Republicans this cycle will be defending twenty-four Senate seats to the Democrats’ ten, and a loss of control of the Senate would be nothing less than disastrous. With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans are temporarily able to prevent the confirmation of another far-left Obama appointee who would eviscerate 2nd Amendment rights, curtail free speech, erase 4th Amendment protections, and in short give government unlimited power. A Democrat-controlled Senate would easily confirm these leftist radicals, and they would be able to ratify treaties crafted by a Hillary Clinton-run White House, which would further weaken American security and interests.
Panicked GOP senators are already game-planning for a Trump nomination where they are constantly forced to denounce statements by their party’s nominee, and are even contemplating the necessity of running negative ads against him in order to create distance in the minds of the voters. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) worries about a “nominee [who will be] an albatross on down-ballot races.” Republicans thought they had it bad having to defend stupid statements by GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin a few years ago, but that will be child’s play compared to having to constantly defend Trump’s numerous controversial statements.
How will vulnerable GOP senators keep their seats while trying to walk the tightrope of trying to secure the votes of Trump supporters without alienating the large portion of the conservative base that detests Trump? What of the effect of further dividing an already fractured party, and alienating the staunch conservatives that have vowed #NeverTrump?
As Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) put it in an interview this week, “Donald Trump has one definite skill, and he knows organizations that are ripe for the hostile takeover. And the Republican Party has been way too vacuous and not nearly clear enough about first principles for quite some time, so he’s trying to wage a hostile takeover of this party. He’s attacking all of the core tenets of the Republican party’s platform.
This guy believes in abortion on demand, this guy says that he hates the concept of guns, this guy’s been for single-payer health care, he’s for a $6 trillion tax increase. That’s not the Republican Party. But right now, people are worried about [the] future of the country, and Donald Trump is screaming the loudest…I think a lot of people want a protest vote to scream Washington is broken, they need to realize, that if this becomes the Donald Trump/David Duke party, there are a lot of us who are out.”
With Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio splitting the bulk of the conservative, anti-Trump vote, Trump will continue to steamroll towards the nomination unless one bows out, and quickly. The allocation of the early states’ delegates are proportional, but on March 15th we enter the winner-take-all phase of the campaign and without this becoming a 2-man race, Trump will continue to take all of the delegates even in states where he gets less than 40% of the vote.
It is often said that the Republican Party is skilled at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and this may turn out to be the most painful example in living memory. For, though Cruz beats Hillary in a head-to-head match-up, Trump loses to Hillary by an average of 3-5 points. And though the media is riding Trump now for all the ratings revenue they can get, you can rest assured that as soon as he secures the nomination, that same media will play clip after clip of his most boorish behavior, his most misogynistic comments, and his changing positions, 24/7. In short, they will become Hillary’s most potent army.
The GOP leadership has earned the contempt, derision, and distrust of its base over the last two decades. Yet a Trump nomination may very well derail the conservative agenda just when it is finally gaining traction. We’ll have won the battle and lost the war.