Republicans need to tune out the gleeful reports in the liberal press predicting the implosion of the GOP, the frantic chatter about blocking a Trump nomination through a brokered convention, and focus on defeating Hillary Clinton. Focus also on the good news in this cycle: Republican ranks are swelling while turnout for Democrats is collapsing. The GOP tent is getting bigger, and if the party doesn’t self-destruct, the country will elect a Republican president.
In 1968, at one of the last such gatherings, Democrats attacked each other savagely, riots broke out in the Chicago streets and Republicans won enormous help in electing a not very popular Richard Nixon. The contest pitted Vice President Hubert Humphrey (the establishment union-Daly-LBJ choice, perhaps the equivalent of Marco Rubio today) against ideologue Robert Kennedy (Cruz?) and against anti-war Eugene McCarthy.
Democrats lost because of real schisms on policy, and because Democrat George Wallace, running as an independent, captured nearly 14 percent of the vote. The race was close, with only half a million votes being the margin of Nixon’s win; Wallace cost the Democrats the election. Equally significant, Humphrey attracted 31 million votes; in the 1964 election, Johnson won with 43 million votes. Not only did Wallace hurt the party, a great many McCarthy fans stayed home.
That is what the Democrats want to inflict on the GOP. A convention that tosses the front-runner will likely throw the election to Hillary Clinton (or whoever runs in her place, if she is indicted for destruction or mishandling of government information). Trump’s supporters will not go quietly into the night--they will sit out the election or they will encourage him to run as a third-party candidate. Given the billionaire’s arrogance and self-confidence, and repeated threats to exit the party, no one will hold him back.
Given what is at stake – the remaking of the Supreme Court, and the future of Obamacare, for instance – keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office is the only priority.
Here is the real message to the GOP: give Trump a chance. There have been plenty of presidential elections during which candidates vent their spleen at one another, only to kiss and make up down the road. Think about Johnson and Kennedy, or George. H. W. Bush and Reagan, or Hillary and Barack; all bitter rivals who managed to swallow their animus and work together.
Could Trump haul Marco Rubio into his administration? Seems unlikely, but then it was only a few weeks ago that Chris Christie was telling the nation that The Donald was unfit to be president. Now the New Jersey Governor is Trump’s favorite backdrop.
Donald Trump is boorish, arrogant and reckless, but he’s not stupid. He understands that much of the country – even many in his own party – find him abhorrent. In the latest CNN poll, 29 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of Republicans combined with right-leaning Independents said they “definitely” would not support Trump. That compares with only 20 percent of Democrats and left-leaning Independents who will not vote for Hillary Clinton. The difference could prove the margin of victory for Clinton.
Trump needs to correct this, and he probably can. He must end the vulgar tit-for-tat with Rubio that affronts so many people, he needs to confront some of the issues raised by Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney by releasing his tax returns and the recording from his New York Times interview and he should provide more details of his policies.
The “Issues” section of his web site currently features 17 videos of Donald Trump talking into a camera on various topics. It’s clear the films were all made the same day, as his wardrobe remains constant. On education, the developer says Common Core is an absolute disaster and that education decisions should be made locally – solving our schools crisis in under a minute! On the drug epidemic, Trump vows to cure the drug epidemic by building a wall that will stop the flow of drugs into the country – done in 33 seconds.
It’s weak-- it’s not serious, and Trump owes the country more. My guess is he will begin to take his probable victory more seriously, and begin to flesh out his so-far flimsy platform. He actually needs to start hiring staff who can help him prepare for the issues he will confront in future debates, and especially if he is to face Hillary Clinton.
He should also start to reach out to people in the party, and to well-regarded business leaders, and try to bring them aboard. His is a forceful personality; he can probably do this. The only financial person he has referenced is Carl Icahn, a controversial short-term focused corporate raider. A recent piece by Steve Malanga from The Manhattan Institute points out that a survey by Chief Executive Magazine “found Trump leading all Republican candidates with 21 percent of support from top executives, followed closely by Marco Rubio.”
Moreover, Malanga reports, “campaign-contribution data by the Center for Public Integrity found that, other than retirees, the heaviest concentration of Trump donors were individuals identified as owners, presidents, and CEOs of businesses.” Some of those CEOs could be asked to join a kitchen cabinet, charged with laying out a plan to bring jobs back to the U.S.
Establishment Republicans are horrified that the nominee may not be one of them. My advice: get over it. Start to find common ground with Trump and help him beat Hillary, or he will indeed destroy the party.