Back when Donald Trump announced he was running for president as a Republican, most people assumed he was running as a joke. Well, the joke stopped being funny. Trump is getting closer to securing the nomination and has become a Gordian knot for the Republican Party.
The Republican establishment had three options to stop Trump. The first option to deal with Trump was simple: ignore him. The party believed that the electorate would do away with Trump for them. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
Trump had a successful night on Super Tuesday, winning seven of the 11 states up for grab and securing 237 delegates.
He now has 384 delegates, after picking up two more states this past weekend. In total he would need 1,237 delegates to lock up the nomination. So, the first option is off the table. This now leaves the establishment with two more options, both of which are less than desirable.
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney fired the opening salvo of the Republican Civil War, calling Trump a phony and saying his promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have also unleashed a barrage of criticism aimed at Trump, echoing the words of Romney.
The overarching goal here is to hurt Trump at the polls and deny him as many delegates as possible. The projections of most pundits show that is Trump barely on the path to get the needed number of delegates. If Trump loses or underperforms in the upcoming primaries in Ohio and Florida, it would knock him off track. If Trump cannot capture enough delegates, the result would be a contested convention, the GOP’s second option.
How this works is simple. If Trump cannot reach 1,237 delegates on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention, a second ballot will be cast. However, for the second ballot delegates are no longer bound to the candidate their state voted for. So, in theory these delegates could vote instead for Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, Romney or whoever the Republican establishment wants. The risks associated with this option are high though.
This shows the nation the party cannot even decide on someone to lead them, and the fighting could turn off general election voters.
But the most damaging outcome of a contested convention is the possible blowback of denying the nomination to the candidate with the most votes. A similar situation occurred at the 1968 Democratic convention, and it took the party 24 years to recover.
Another negative side effect of the second option is that Trump could run third party out of spite. While this is unlikely based on the costs of an independent run, nothing should be put past Trump. Now, if he does run independently, the Democrats could nominate a shoebox and still win the election.
The final option is to run an independent third party candidate who gives Republicans an option besides Clinton or Trump.
This spells doom for Trump, as a recent CNN Poll shows 48 percent of Republicans who do not currently support Trump will not support him in November. Similar to the second option this would also give the Democrats the White House come November.
The last thing the Republican establishment wants is another Clinton in the White House, but to them that may be a better alternative than having Trump as the Republican nominee. Trump signals the death of the Republican Party. Perhaps in this case, it would be more beneficial for the Republican Party to save face rather than endorse or support Trump. His platform stands in contrast to the social and economic conservatism that the party has preached for decades. He is not a true Conservative.
He is leading the party in a new direction that cannot be controlled. This direction takes radical turns that are not representative of any one party’s beliefs. He shames the Republican Establishment. Trump has offended women, Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and a host of others. He has done nothing for down ballet Republican candidates.
Republican donors like the Koch brothers are hesitant to donate money to a candidate who is unpredictable. All the strides the party has made from their crushing defeat in 2012 are being undone by Trump.
Whether it is a contested convention or running a third party candidate to sabotage Trump, he needs to be stopped. The Republican establishment needs to bite the bullet, concede the White House to the Democrats and then try again in four years. He would be an embarrassment to the party of Lincoln and Reagan.