Last night, Donald Trump schlonged the competition. Again.
Then he got up and lied about pretty much everything. Again.
He trotted out a bottle of Trump Water, a Trump Steak, and Trump Wine, as well as a copy of Trump Magazine. But Trump Water went under years ago, as did Trump Steak and Trump Magazine. Those Trump Steaks were bought from a local butchery and repackaged. The Trump Water bottle Trump held up was actually produced by a different company, and Trump slapped a label on it. The Trump Magazine? It’s just an annual publication distributed at Mar-a-Lago. Trump Wine? It’s produced by a company unaffiliated with Trump.
But Trump’s winning!
So, here’s the pressing question of the day: if Trump doesn’t draw a majority of the delegates before the convention but still carries the most delegates, ought the Republican Party to cave and just hand him the nomination? Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), apparently under the mistaken impression that he will end up with the most delegates before this process is over, said that there would be a “manifest revolt” if the top delegate finisher didn’t take the nomination. Glenn Beck has said the same: “If [Trump] gets close enough and the GOP tries to play games, I won’t vote for Donald Trump ever, but I will stand with his right, because the people have spoken.” Erick Erickson, the #NeverTrump founder, wrote, “Trump, though I do not like him, has brought swarms of people into the GOP. Putting out a ‘No Trump voters allowed’ sign is Jim Crowing the GOP – a convention equivalent to segregated water fountains and delegates.” Rush Limbaugh has warned of insanity if Trump is deprived of the nomination as well.
Is this right?
Let’s say that Trump has won, say, 1,100 delegates but not 1,237. What happens? Here are three scenarios:
The Republican Establishment Hands The Nomination To An Establishment Figure. Right now, RNC rules require that a candidate win eight states in order to be eligible for the nomination. Let’s say that nobody but Cruz and Trump has won eight states, but the establishment insiders hate both so much that they decide to hand the nomination over to somebody like Mitt Romney. Trump goes third party, conservatives stay home, and Hillary wins the presidency. The outrage percolates against the Republican establishment.
Great! They deserve it. And we’ll have another shot at an anti-establishment conservative candidate in four years who isn’t a disreputable con man.
Now let’s say that Romney somehow ekes out a victory. How exactly is this a horrible, terrible thing? Romney, for all his establishment tendencies and weaknesses, is significantly closer to conservative ideas than the egocentric authoritarian Trump -- and significantly more susceptible to pressure from the right.
The Republican Establishment Settles On Cruz. Let’s say Trump comes in first and Cruz comes in second, but the GOP decides not to change the rules and instead gives the nomination to Cruz. Trump takes off and runs third party. Again, great! Clarity over agreement. This is a far better alternative than the conservative brand being permanently sullied with Trump’s nasty brand of populist nationalism. If Cruz loses to Hillary, Trump people will blame the establishment and conservatives – but they’ll do that if Trump loses, too. And if Cruz gets the nomination, at least the votes of the 65+ percent of Republicans who can’t stand Trump aren’t taken for granted -- and the establishment won't have the ability to blame conservatives for the nomination, since they'll have approved it.
The Republican Establishment Hands The Nomination To Trump. Allahpundit at Hot Air rightly points out:
The argument, I guess, is that it’s worth letting Trump have the nomination and lose to Hillary as the duly recognized GOP nominee because at least that’ll show his voters that the party is fair and that they should stick with it even after Trump has passed from the scene. You’re running two big risks with that, though. One: If Beck is right, you’re handing a dangerous authoritarian a much more viable path to the presidency, as a major-party nominee, than he would have as an independent after having been robbed of the GOP nomination. And two: Even if Trump loses to Hillary, you risk having the GOP rebranded as, in Philip Klein’s words, the party of “open-ended government entitlements, socialized medicine, partial birth abortion, gun control, private property seizures, trade protectionism, authoritarianism, vulgarity, mindless policy pronouncements, celebrity worship, and white male resentment.”
This is the worst available option. For those who are #NeverTrump, the purpose of stopping Trump is maintaining conservatism, not maintaining the misimpression of honesty in a weak and vacillating Republican Party. And you watch: if Trump gets the nomination and loses, the establishment will blame conservatives for the rest of time for Trump's nomination, and bring us ever more left-leaning candidates as a consequence.
So yes, Trump should be stopped by any legal means necessary. The rules weren’t constructed to simply greenlight whoever has the most delegates. If Trump wants the nomination, he can do what he always says he’s doing: win. Otherwise, he’s just as much a loser as anyone else he decries.