If Donald J. Trump wins big on “Super Tuesday” as expected, he will begin to accumulate a delegate lead that may be insurmountable, even in the later winner-take-all primaries beginning on March 15 (where Trump also is currently leading in the polls). Republican base voters have almost always coalesced around the candidate who smells like a winner to them in the early primaries. Cruz Warns ‘Trump Train’ Could Become ‘Unstoppable’.
Republican pundits are now openly talking about breaking up the Republican Party to stop Trump. The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin posts, The GOP will splinter:
Some cynics on the right and certainly the latest conventional wisdom in the mainstream media hold that Republicans will line up dutifully behind Donald Trump, should he be the nominee. Even before Trump’s stunning refusal on Sunday to denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, evidence suggested there is more likely to be a split, which will leave us with an Old Republican Party and, in one form or another, a New Republican Party.
The former will be the party of nativists and opportunists. The talk-show crowd that made nativism the defining feature of the far right can be the mouthpiece for its vile rhetoric (as it is now). On Trump’s side already are Jean-Marie Le Pen, David Duke and white supremacists whom he retweets and refuses (some of the time) to condemn. Trumpkins will also make up the party of imperial presidents, for that is what they are championing right now.
Trump has gone, in recent days, into full fascist mode…
All of this poses an insurmountable hurdle for most Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has already counseled Republicans up for reelection to run ads against Trump. He vows Republicans will “drop him like a hot rock” in the general election.
And that’s not the only barrier to falling in line behind Trump. His authoritarian streak has now morphed into full-blown Caesarism…
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Thankfully, you already have many conscientious conservatives declaring they will, under no circumstances, follow Trump. They even have a hashtag that is building a following: #NeverTrump. These Republicans are appalled by his bully-boy tactics and disgusted by his message. It will be easy to round up anti-Trump adherents.
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On Sunday, rising conservative star Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) put out an open letter making the case against Trump (including some of his more heinous rhetoric) and explaining why he could never support Trump . . . He continued, “Given what we know about him today, here’s where I’m at: If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate — a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.”
In fact, efforts are underway to explore the potential for an independent run. A group of donors has already engaged a firm to figure out the timing and logistics, Politico reports. (“A memo prepared for the group zeroes in on ballot access as a looming obstacle for any independent candidate, along with actually identifying a viable, widely known contender and coalescing financial support for that person. The two states with the earliest deadlines for independent candidates, Texas and North Carolina, also have some of the highest hurdles for independents to get on the ballot, according to the research.”) Despite Republicans’ inability to come up a coherent approach to defeating Trump early on, the New York Times reports: “Resistance to Mr. Trump still runs deep. The party’s biggest benefactors remain totally opposed to him. At a recent presentation hosted by the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch, the country’s most prolific conservative donors, their political advisers characterized Mr. Trump’s record as utterly unacceptable, and highlighted his support for government-funded business subsidies and government-backed health care, according to people who attended.”
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Add in all the new #NeverTrump Republicans who have been outraged by Trump’s behavior in just the last few days. There will be libertarians, moderates and conservatives — the foundation of the Old GOP, before Trump came along — who will need someone to vote for, finding Trump and Clinton entirely unacceptable.
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For downticket Republicans, an alternative presidential candidate would be the most effective damage control tactic if Trump were the nominee, and maybe the only way to avoid a landslide of 1964-esque proportions. At least principled Republicans would come to the polls to vote against Trump and Clinton, and then cast votes for downticket races as well. If, however, these voters stay home, it is possible the GOP will lose the Senate, and maybe even the House.
To recap, the media has concluded that Trump is unstoppable and his takeover of the GOP is a certainty. We find that absurd, transparently wishful thinking. Republicans — real ones and not xenophobes and haters — have only begun to fight. This weekend we began to see the #NeverTrump movement blossom. It has a persuasive leader in Sasse, and other respected voices will join. There is no rule that says a national Republican Party must always exist. And if Trump wins its nomination, there will be a moral imperative to break up the vehicle he would use to win the White House.
Rubin continues with The benefits of a Republican Party breakup:
It is impossible for some in the media and in the conservative movement to conceive of American politics without a Republican Party. It is a failure of imagination but also of moral spine.
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[People] fail to recognize that there are only two choices in 2016: Someone other than Trump gets the nomination, or there is no unified GOP (at the least for the 2016 presidential race, and perhaps permanently). Ironically, it is sometimes more difficult to recognize a tectonic shift is underway than it is to recognize small shifts. The former prompts denial and a desire to cling to what is known, even if it what is known is on the verge of extinction.
Nevertheless, conservatives and the larger grouping that makes up the GOP should understand more is at stake than a single election and a single Supreme Court opening. For one thing, if Trump gets the nomination, he will lose, overwhelmingly. Someone with negatives as high as his and as temperamentally and ideologically erratic as he is will not get 270 electoral votes. Many Republicans will stay home; others will vote for Hillary Clinton. With his nomination and the ensuing landslide, the Senate and possibly the House would be lost.
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As we have discussed, if Trump is the nominee. all sorts of interesting possibilities unfold. A third presidential candidate is quite likely, but more important, a new party. Let’s face it: There is a lot deserving of abandonment in the GOP right now. Nativism has thoroughly infected its agenda, turning otherwise well-rounded conservatives into small-minded xenophobes. The inability to recognize lost causes (reversing gay marriage) and the refusal to address real ones (e.g. poverty) have paralyzed too many Republicans. The search for ideological purity and support for fringe candidates as well as a nihilistic approach to government personified in the shutdown have gripped vast swaths of the party. The opportunity now may present itself to leave all of this behind, to form a 21st-century party reflective of today’s United States and with a coherent vision of governance.
Some would prefer a “Constitutional Party” stressing limited government, federalism and the rule of law. But frankly, this does not have enough “sell” for a national party and is not tailored to a positive agenda. The successor to the GOP cannot be merely be against things; it must be for ideas that address needs of ordinary Americans.
The answer should come from the reform agenda that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is championing . . . We have discussed at length its intellectual underpinnings in the reform conservative movement. But constitutionalists need not fret. Both Ryan and the larger reform conservative effort rely on restoring the proper balance between federal and state power and between executive and legislative action. However, as former Texas governor Rick Perry elegantly put it during his run, conservatives should be as concerned with the 14th Amendment as they are with the 10th.
Whatever follows the GOP would also mark a change in tone and temperament. Restraint, tolerance and a preference for gradual innovation over radical revolution — the original hallmarks of modern conservatism — should predominate. In other words, everything that Trump is not.
In sum, Republican primary voters tomorrow and for the weeks that follow have more than a choice among four or five candidates. They actually have a binary choice: Rejection of Trumpism or the dissolution of the GOP, which will inaugurate a new party and a new phase for center-right politics. For those on the right appalled by Trump and the primordial proto-fascistic goo from whence he emerged, the bad news is that they may well lose the next election. The good news is that what follows may be better for center-right politics and, more important, the country.
Nobody has been more vocal about Trump’s threat to the GOP than Republican consultant Rick Wilson, whose angry, impassioned article, “With God as My Witness, I will Never Vote for Donald Trump” went viral last week.
Rob Garver of the Fiscal Times adds, Trump victory could mean end for the GOP – Business Insider:
Rick Wilson has been speaking hard truths to the GOP since The Donald entered the race last June, and in an interview Monday, he dished out more: The Republican Party, he said, has to recognize that it may have lost hardcore Trump voters for good.
“Trump voters are informed by fury and alienation,” he said, a lot of which has been manufactured by a hard right conservative talk radio media establishment that, according to Wilson, has “monetized” the creation of outrage.
“They’ve been sold on ‘the stab in the back’ — the idea that the evil elites are betraying you over and over again,” he said.
“They’re a lost cause and may be lost forever,” he continued. Trump supporters, he said, “assertively reject” key conservative principles like limited government and checks on executive authority. “They want a strongman, they want a Caudillo.”
He added, “They may be gone for good in terms of being part of the coalition.”
At this point, the Republican candidates that are left in the race, Wilson said, are not even trying to take away Trump’s voters anymore, but rather to consolidate the remainder behind a single candidate.
To a longtime GOP activist like Wilson, watching Trump tear the party apart is obviously painful.
“This could have been a year when people were looking at the Republican Party as the aspirational mirror of what America is.”
Instead, he said, Trump has “distorted” the face of the party with appeals to bigotry, fear, and a sense of betrayal.
“I got in so much trouble last year when I said there is a ‘whiff of fascism’ about Trump,” Wilson says with grim humor. “Now, when people ask, ‘Is Trump a fascist?’ everyone says, ‘Of course he is.’”
This is just a small sampling of the discussions going on among conservatives right now. Google it. They are just now coming to grips with the realization of what I have been saying for years: This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. Your father’s GOP is long since dead.
This election may be one of those redefining moments that come only once, maybe twice, in a century in which a new political party emerges from the ashes of an old failed party. It should be fascinating, and perhaps terrifying, to watch.